Piccione Pastry’s Coconut Cassata Cake

Piccione Pastry’s Coconut Cassata Cake
piccione pastry's coconut cassata cake photo by carmen troesser

Sauce reader Matthew Brown begged us to get the recipe for the decadent coconut cassata cake at Piccione Pastry. Brown described the bakery’s signature cake as “liquor-soaked.” Your buzz isn’t coming from booze, Mr. Brown, but rather the rich combination of coconut milk and heavy cream. Oh, and sugar. And eggs. And vanilla …


For the sponge cake
6 oz. cake flour
11 oz. granulated sugar, divided
9 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
½ Tbsp. cream of tartar
½ Tbsp. vanilla extract

For the coconut pastry cream
¼ cup cornstarch
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 14-oz. can coconut milk, divided
4 egg yolks
1 pinch kosher salt
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
Toasted coconut flakes, to garnish


For the sponge cake
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 9-by-13-inch cake pans with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.

• In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and 5 ounces sugar. Set aside.

• Using a mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 6 ounces sugar and whip on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

• Using a mixer, whip the egg yolks on high until they are light in color and doubled in volume, about 1 minute. Then, with the mixer running, add the vanilla extract.

• Use a spatula to fold the whipped egg yolks into the egg whites. Slowly fold in the flour-sugar mixture in batches, making sure there are no flour pockets in the bowl. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans, smoothing the top slightly.

• Bake 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake another 15 minutes until the cake is golden and pulls away from the pan. Set aside and let cool.

For the coconut pastry cream
• Stir the cornstarch and ¼ cup sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in half the can of coconut milk, then add the egg yolks and stir until blended. Set aside.

• In a saucepan, combine the remaining coconut milk with the remaining ½ cup sugar and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove pan from the heat.

• Temper the egg mixture by gradually whisking in one-third of the hot coconut milk mixture. Whisk in the remaining hot coconut milk, then return the entire mixture to the saucepan.

• Continue cooking over medium heat about 5 to 7 minutes, whisking constantly. (Do not stop whisking. The cream will change from a liquid to custard consistency in 1 minute. If you aren’t whisking, the mixture will turn into a chunky mess.) Whisk until the mixture comes to a boil and the whisk leaves a trail in the pastry cream or when the pastry cream coats the back of a spoon.

• Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and butter. Place the saucepan in a shallow ice water bath and stir occasionally until the pastry cream has cooled, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pastry cream to a covered storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.

• In a mixing bowl, make whipped cream by whipping the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

• To assemble the cake: Carefully transfer one of the sponge cakes to a serving plate. Frost the cake with the chilled pastry cream, then place the second cake on top. Refrigerate 1 hour.

• Frost the cake with whipped cream and garnish with toasted coconut flakes.

Tags : Coconut , Cake