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Benne’s Coconut Cake – “The Best There Is!”

a person cutting a cake

If you’re a fan of coconut cake, then you need to try the coconut cake at Benne’s in Charleston, South Carolina. This legendary dessert is made with 12 layers of fresh coconut cake and cream cheese frosting, and it’s topped with toasted coconut flakes. It’s so delicious and decadent, and it’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

The history of the coconut cake:

The coconut cake at Benne’s was created in 1997 by Peninsula Grill pastry chef Cynthia Wong. She was inspired by the flavors of her childhood growing up in Hawaii, and she wanted to create a cake that was both delicious and beautiful. The cake was an instant hit, and it has since become one of the most popular desserts in Charleston.

The ingredients:

The coconut cake at Benne’s is made with the freshest ingredients, including:

  • Heavy Cream 
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Toasted coconut flakes

The preparation:

To make the coconut cake, the heavy cream is first heated until it is very hot. Then, it is combined with the butter, sugar, and eggs. The dry ingredients are mixed together in a separate bowl, and then they are added to the wet ingredients. The batter is mixed until it is just combined, and then it is poured into a greased and floured cake pan.

The cake is baked in a preheated oven until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once the cake is baked, it is allowed to cool completely.

To make the cream cheese frosting, the cream cheese is beaten until it is smooth and creamy. Then, the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a small amount of milk are added. The frosting is mixed until it is smooth and spreadable.

The assembly:

To assemble the coconut cake, the cake is first cut into 12 layers. Then, each layer is spread with a layer of cream cheese frosting. The cake is stacked, and the remaining frosting is spread on the top and sides of the cake.

Finally, the cake is topped with toasted coconut flakes.


The coconut cake at Benne’s is typically served in individual slices. However, it can also be purchased as a whole cake. The cake is best served at room temperature.


  • For the best results, use heavy cream. If you can’t find heavy cream, you can use fresh coconut milk. However, be sure to shake the can well before using it.
  • To make the cake extra moist and flavorful, add 1/2 cup of coconut extract to the batter.
  • To make the frosting extra creamy, use full-fat cream cheese.
  • To toast the coconut flakes, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
  • The coconut cake at Benne’s is best served the day it is made. However, it can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  • For a chocolate coconut cake, add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder to the batter.
  • For a lemon coconut cake, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest to the batter.
  • For a pineapple coconut cake, add 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple to the batter.
  • For a toasted coconut cake, toast the coconut flakes before adding them to the batter.
  • For a coconut cream pie filling, combine 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 can of coconut milk, and 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Spread the filling over the top of the assembled cake.

The coconut cake at Benne’s is a delicious and decadent dessert that is sure to please everyone. It’s the perfect way to end a meal, or to enjoy as a special treat. So next time you’re in Charleston, be sure to stop by Benne’s to try this legendary dessert.

Additional information:

  • The coconut cake at Benne’s has been featured in numerous publications, including Bon Appétit, Saveur, Martha Stewart Living, The New York Times, and The Today Show.
  • The cake is also available for online ordering and at select retailers across the country.
  • The coconut cake at Benne’s is a popular choice for weddings
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