May 23 Photo credit: Quentin Bacon

These snow-white little cakes are as delicious as any coconut candy I’ve ever tasted.

Unsweetened coconut is available both as long shreds (like the sweetened coconut you can buy in the supermarket) or more finely ground. The shreds retain more moisture than the ground coconut does. Either may be used in this recipe, but if you use the shredded variety, pulse it in the food processor half a dozen times, not to grind it to a powder, but to reduce the shreds in size to about 1/8 inch.

Lately I’ve been baking this as a single cake (see the end of the recipe) and serving wedges with a sliced mango half.  These are the flat slipper-shaped, yellow mangoes imported from Mexico.  They’re not fibrous like the large egg-shaped Indian mangoes and are very much like the ones in season right now in Thailand.

Makes 24 individual cakes or one 8-inch round cake

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (about 2 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

1 1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) unsweetened dried coconut

4 large egg whites

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut or unsweetened ground or shredded coconut for topping the cakes before baking

Two 12-cavity mini muffin pans, buttered and floured

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour and coconut; set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until smooth, then whisk in the lemon zest and butter. Whisk in about half the dry ingredients, then use a rubber spatula to fold in the remainder.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling them about two thirds full. Sprinkle the top of each cake with a pinch of shredded coconut.
  5. Bake the cakes until they are well risen and deep golden and they are firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 15 minutes. Invert them to a rack, then immediately turn them right side up and let them cool completely.

SERVING: Serve these after dessert with coffee, or as part of an assortment of desserts.

STORAGE: Keep the cakes loosely covered with plastic wrap on the day they are made. Arrange them in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover in one layer and refrigerate them for longer storage. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Substitute ground blanched almonds or a combination of ground hazelnuts and ground almonds for the coconut.

Before baking, sprinkle the top of each little cake with a pinch of shredded sweetened coconut (substitute chopped almonds or hazelnuts for the variation above).

Bake the batter in a buttered and paper-lined 8-inch diameter 2-inch deep pan. It will take about 5 minutes longer to bake; test for doneness with the point of a paring knife in the center of the cake. Unmold, cool and serve in wedges.