This situation right here is amazing! A moist upside down chocolate cake with a rich dark caramel and sweetened coconut flakes! The best part? It’s baked in a skillet!
This morning I was thisclose to a breakdown. I’m OK now, but today it got real. I had to take a few deep, deep breaths.
I’m feeling overwhelmed, friends. Just a bit.
I’m here to evoke that feeling. That feeling of anticipation as your fork cuts through a layer of frosting and into the fluffiness of a delicious slice of cake. The feeling of utter bliss as that piece of cake meets your taste buds in an explosion of flavor. That temporary carbohydrate-fueled release of serotonin. Yes, the inevitable crash will come later, but who cares?!
First, I hope the cast iron skillet passed down from your great-grandma is cured and free of rust, as this cake takes place in a skillet.
I love skillet cakes. They’re super low maintenance and most of the work takes place in that one skillet. For this cake we plan to make a quick caramel situation with light brown sugar, butter, and a little vanilla extract. Once the caramel has achieved its desired hue, sweetened coconut flakes are sprinkled on top of the caramel. Yes, don’t be shy, just sprinkle it on. You know, make sure it’s even. Set that aside and mix your cake batter situation.
The cake batter is simple – Creaming method – Sugar and butter. Add your eggs, your vanilla extract. Finally, you alternate a ‘heavily laced with cocoa powder’ flour situation with milk. This batter gets spread over the coconut flakes and baked.
Now here’s the good part – The part you’ve been waiting for. Once the cake cools slightly, you invert it onto a serving plate. You’re going to stare at it a bit. It’s all shiny. The reaction will be Pavlovian, visceral – Just flow with it.
Slice into that nicely darkened caramel, past the coconut flakes, and into that moist chocolate cake situation.
Hold on to that feeling.
Coconut Caramel Chocolate Upside Down Cake
- For the topping
- Unsalted butter - 1⁄2 cup (1 stick)
- Light brown sugar, packed - 3⁄4 cup
- Vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
- Sweetened flaked coconut - 2 cups
- For the cake
- All-purpose flour, spooned then leveled - 3⁄4 cup
- Unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder - 6 tablespoons
- Baking soda - 3⁄4 teaspoon
- Salt - 1⁄4 teaspoon
- Unsalted butter, room temperature - ½ cup (1 stick)
- Granulated sugar - 1 cup
- Large eggs - 2
- Vanilla extract - 2 1/4 teaspoons
- Whole milk - 2⁄3 cup
Make the topping:
Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit. VERY LIGHTLY spray the edges of a 10" cast iron skillet with cooking spray.
In your prepared cast iron skillet, heat the butter over medium heat until butter has melted and is foaming. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, whisking constantly for about 2-3 minutes until the brown sugar has melted, the mixture has bubbled, and has thickened to a nice bubbling caramel. Add the vanilla extract, but be careful because the caramel will start to sizzle and possibly spatter. Whisk until the vanilla extract is fully incorporated.
Remove from heat and set aside for about a minute to cool slightly. Sprinkle the sweetened flaked coconut over the caramel mixture, distributing evenly. Set aside while you make the cake.
Make the cake:
To a medium bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, less than 2 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and mixing well after each addition. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is light and increased in volume, about 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla.
At this point your mixture might looks to look sort of curdled. Its ok – We’re going to fix that.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in 1⁄2 of the flour mixture, followed by ½ of the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk. Mix until just combined. You should still see some dried flour bits. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the batter on high speed for NO LONGER THAN 8 SECONDS. I mean it!
Pour the batter over the sweetened flaked coconut and gently spread it into an even layer using an offset spatula.
Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.
Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and let stand for about 5 minutes. Place a plate over the skillet and holding the skillet and a plate together with oven mitts, immediately invert the hot cake onto the plate.
Let the cake cool for 20 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.
This cake will last about 2 days, but its best eaten the day it’s made.