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Peninsula Grill Coconut Cake

There is a special place in the very heart and soul of Charleston's Historic District, where copper carriage lanterns flicker and guests pause to wonder what awaits on the other side of the wrought iron gate. The lovely sounds of soft laughter, palmetto fronds rustling in an evening breeze, and a gurgling fountain beckon from within the charming garden courtyard. A meandering, hand-pointed historic brick alleyway leads to a gleaming green door adorned with a burnished gold fleur-de-lis. This resplendent and romantic sense of arrival is without peer in Charleston.

Welcome to the very heart and soul of Charleston's Historic District.

Welcome to Peninsula Grill.

2 cups coconut flakes, medium shredded
1 pound unsalted butter
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut oil
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Sliced strawberries, for garnish

5 cups heavy cream
3 cups granulated sugar
1 pound unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 cups coconut, medium shredded

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
½ pound cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut Crème Anglaise
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, medium shredded
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spread the coconut evenly onto a medium sheet pan, and bake until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve for the cake assembly.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs three at a time, mixing well after each addition, until light in color.
In a separate bowl, combine the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Starting with the cream mixture, alternately add the wet and the dry sifted ingredients until all are incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Spray 2 (10-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray, and divide the batter evenly among them. Bake until toothpicks inserted into the cakes come out clean, about 50 minutes to an hour.

For the Filling
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and butter and bring to a simmer.
In a separate bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water together to form a slurry.
After the cream comes to a boil, remove it from the heat. Stir the slurry into the cream mixture, bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and coconut.
Place in the refrigerator overnight.

For the Frosting
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese until light in color. Mix in the vanilla extract until incorporated.

For the Coconut Crème Anglaise
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and coconut over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Set aside to steep for 20 minutes, then strain, and discard the coconut. Return the cream to the saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar dissolves, and the eggs are lighter in color. Pour 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream into the egg mixture very slowly, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture into the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Stir constantly over low heat with a wooden spoon until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat, strain, and chill.

For the Simple Syrup
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, and cool completely before using.

For Assembly
Carefully cut the thin, browned tops off the cooked cake layers, and discard. Cut each of the two cakes into three equal, horizontal layers. Place the chilled filling into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low until the filling softens, then mix at medium-high until the filling is pale, creamy, and soft enough to spread.
Drizzle the first cake layer with simple syrup, then spread the filling evenly across, and top with a second cake layer. Repeat with the remaining layers, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and chill two to three hours or overnight. Coat the top and sides of the cake with the frosting, then press the reserved toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake.

To serve, drizzle Coconut Crème Anglaise on the plate, top with a slice of cake, and garnish with sliced strawberries.