19 Coconut Desserts to Go Crazy For

Coconut cake? Coconut ice cream? We're loco for coco

Beneath the hard shell of the coconut lies a refreshing nectar and rich meat well worth the trouble of cracking it open. Skip the canned stuff and make your own coconut milk from freshly grated coconut meat. Pro tip: Use the tools you already have in your kitchen to make it infinitely easier.

Coconut is used extensively in traditional Southeast Asian recipes: from curries to coconut rice, fresh coconut milk adds subtle sweetness and silkiness to dishes like no other. And while savory coconut recipes are delicious, you can't beat coconut desserts made with coconut milk. Our favorites range from steamed coconut-pandan cakes to coconut ice cream—here's how to make them.

Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Cream
Sticky rice
Black sticky rice, which like wild rice is unhulled, makes a rustic rice pudding loaded with far more flavor and texture than usual. This version from chef Peerasri Montreeprasat at Sugar Club, a Thai grocery and cafe in New York, adds in cubes of nutty taro and is sweetened with palm sugar. Get the recipe for Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Cream »Matt Taylor-Gross
Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake (Khanom Chan)
khanom chan
Think of these silky, chewy, coconutty gummies as richer, more flavorful Jello jigglers, made with a steamed batter of coconut milk with sticky rice flour and tapioca and arrowroot starches. It's a labor of love: to form the neat layers, you have to let the previous layer steam enough until set but still a little tacky before adding the next. The cake also benefits enormously from making your own pandan extract; though you can buy pre-made extract in Thai groceries, it won't compare to the unique sweet herbal fragrance of the fresh leaves. (You can buy fresh or frozen pandan leaves online or in well-stocked Thai groceries.) Get the recipe for Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake (Khanom Chan) »Matt Taylor-Gross
Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake
Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake
Thick Italian meringue is sandwiched between moist layers of cake, which is topped off with sweetened shredded coconut in this recipe from chef Thomas Keller. Get the recipe for Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake »Matt Taylor-Gross
Semolina-Coconut Cake with Orange and Rose Waters
Semolina–Coconut Cake
This North African cake is baked with dried coconut and sweetened condensed milk and then soaked in a fragrant lemony syrup with orange blossom and rose waters. Get the recipe for Semolina-Coconut Cake with Orange and Rose Waters »Matt Taylor-Gross
Brown Coconut Pie
brown coconut pie
The original recipe for this pie, adapted from Princess Pamela's Soul Food Cookbook, was a mere few lines—devoid of even a dough recipe and intended for laid-back, confident bakers. Using fresh grated coconut is essential: It creates the ideal texture and keeps the sugary filling from skewing too sweet. Use the fine side of a box grater, or place small pieces of fresh coconut in a food processor. Get the recipe for Brown Coconut Pie »Matt Taylor-Gross
Coconut Pistachio Semifreddo
Coconut Pistachio Semifreddo
Anna Watson Carl relies on sweetened condensed milk to add richness to this frozen dessert flavored with coconut milk, lime zest, and toasty pistachios. Simply macerated peaches provide a fresh, fruity counterpart. Get the recipe for Coconut Pistachio Semifreddo »Matt Taylor-Gross
Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches
Popular throughout Latin America, this milk-soaked cake is thought to have originated in Nicaragua. Get the recipe for Tres Leches Cake »Matt Taylor-Gross
Rice Cakes Stuffed with Coconut and Brown Sugar (Yi Bua)
Rice Cakes Stuffed with Coconut and Brown Sugar (Yi Bua)
Like a tropical version of mochi, these chewy rice cakes, often eaten on sweltering Hainan days with a tall glass of coffee, hold a brown sugar and coconut filling. Get the recipe for Rice Cakes Stuffed with Coconut and Brown Sugar (Yi Bua) »Jason Lang
Top Pot Triple Coconut Donuts
Top Pot Triple Coconut Donuts
Coconut milk gives these donuts from Seattle's Top Pot donut shop a super-moist interior and a gratifying crust. Get the recipe for Top Pot Triple Coconut Donuts »Todd Coleman
Coconut "Macaroonies"
Coconut Blondie Cookies
With their powerful coconut flavor, chewy texture, and crisp edges, these gluten- and dairy-free all-coconut bar cookies (made with coconut extract, oil, and flour) are the ultimate macaron. Get the recipe for Coconut "Macaroonies" »Matt Taylor-Gross
Omani Coconut Cookies
Omani Coconut Cookies
A simple combination of sugar syrup and unsweetened coconut cools and hardens into sweet, crunchy treats that are perfect served alongside tea or coffee. Get the recipe for Omani Coconut Cookies »Felicia Campbell
Sesame-Topped Semolina Cake with Coconut (Shwekyi Senyinmakin)
Sesame-Topped Semolina Cake with Coconut (Shwekyi Senyinmakin)
This sticky-sweet cake, made with semolina flour and coconut milk, is commonly served at holidays and special occasions in Myanmar. Get the recipe for Sesame-Topped Semolina Cake with Coconut (Shwekyi Senyinmakin) »Laura Sant
Danish Dream Cake (Drømmekage)
Danish Dream Cake (Drømmekage)
This delightfully basic white sponge cake, encrusted with a coconut and brown sugar topping, is a dream to make and eat. Get the recipe for Danish Dream Cake (Drømmekage) »Matt Taylor-Gross
Smoked Coconut Cheesecake
Smoked Coconut Cheesecake
This coconut cheesecake with a thick whipped cream topping looks typical enough, but it's perfumed with musky, flowery aromas and flavored with notes of caramel and smoke. Get the recipe for Smoked Coconut Cheesecake »Todd Coleman
Pandan-Coconut Ice Cream
Pandan-Coconut Ice Cream
Often used in southeast Asian curries and Indian rice dishes, pandan leaf lends a subtly fragrant savory note to this coconut ice cream. Get the recipe for Pandan-Coconut Ice Cream »Laura Sant
Goan Coconut Cake (Baath)
Goan Coconut Cake (Baath)
A hint of rosewater adds sweet, floral aroma to this moist, dense semolina cake, packed with four types of coconut. Refrigerating overnight gives the semolina time to soak up the sweet coconut liquid, resulting in a softer, more tender crumb. Get the recipe for Goan Coconut Cake (Baath) »Matt Taylor-Gross
Lamingtons
Lamingtons
The Lamington, an Australian favorite, is a cube of butter cake dipped in chocolate, then rolled in coconut flakes; some versions are filled with cream or jam. Get the recipe for Lamingtons »Todd Coleman
Coconut Lime Custard Pie
Coconut Lime Custard Pie
This cream-topped pie is filled with a thick coconut milk custard that perfectly complements the zip of fresh lime juice and grated zest. Get the recipe for Coconut Lime Custard Pie »Andrew Ingalls
Lane Cake
Lane Cake
This recipe is based on one in Emma Rylander Lane's Some Good Things to Eat (self-published, 1898). Get the recipe for Lane Cake »Todd Coleman