Do you love coconut? Chocolate? Read on.

In France you can enjoy a magnificent multi-layer cake, the Marjolaine, made with conventional flour plus ground almonds and hazelnuts.

Three years ago Alice Medrich wrote Flour Flavors suggesting alternatives to baking with conventional flours. For that Marjolaine, Alice suggests a combination of shredded coconut and white rice flour. The resulting cake, as you can see, has intense beauty. It offers intense flavor, too. This is a dessert for all seasons and times. After dinner? Sure. Brunch? Yes. Breakfast? Yes, just stay away from your spouse.

Coconut Marjolaine

Yield: serves 10 to 12


For the coconut meringue layers:

  • 2 ¼ cups (190 grams) unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons (30 grams) white rice flour or scant ⅓ cup (30 grams) Thai white rice flour
  • Generous ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 9 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the filling and frosting:

  • 1 ½ cups plus ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) 55% to 60% chocolate, finely chopped
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum


  • 16-by-12-by-1-inch half sheet pan or 11-by-17-inch jelly roll pan
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment
  • Handheld mixer


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F.

To make the meringue layers, in a medium bowl, mix the coconut, rice flour, salt, and ½ cup (100 grams) of the sugar. Set aside.

Combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar in the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. On high speed, gradually beat in the remaining ½ cup sugar until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Pour the coconut mixture over the meringue and fold with a rubber spatula just until incorporated. Spread the batter evenly in the lined pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan from back to front after about 15 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown and springy to the touch. Set the pan on a rack to cool. (The cake may be prepared up to this point 2 days ahead; cover tightly and store at room temperature.)

To make the ganache filling and frosting, bring 1 ½ cups of the cream to a simmer. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth. Transfer IV3 cups of the ganache to another bowl and stir the remaining % cup cold cream into it to make a lighter ganache. Chill the light ganache for at least 2 hours or until needed. Taste and consider adding a pinch of salt to the dark ganache; leave it at room temperature to cool and thicken.

To assemble the cake, cut around the edges of the pan to detach the meringue. Grasp the edges of the parchment liner and pull or slide the meringue onto the counter or a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut the meringue (and parchment) in half crosswise, then in thirds lengthwise to make 6 layers, each about 8 by 3 ¾ inches.

Flip one layer over and peel off the parchment. Set the layer right side up on a sheet of foil. Remove the chilled light ganache from the refrigerator and add the rum. Beat it briefly with the handheld mixer until it is light colored and stiff enough to hold a good shape for spreading. Spread one-fifth of the ganache (about ½ cup) evenly over the layer. Place a second layer, meringue side down, on top of the ganache and press it level. Peel off the parchment and continue alternating meringue layers and ganache (remembering to peel off the parchment each time before spreading the ganache), ending with a meringue layer. Wrap and refrigerate the cake until firm, at least 1 hour.

To finish the cake, remove it from the refrigerator. Peel the parchment off the top layer. Use a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to trim the sides of the cake evenly. Set the cake on a baking sheet (or lazy Susan or turntable if you have one). Spread the top and sides of the cake with a very thin coat of dark ganache just to create a smooth surface. If the ganache is too stiff, warm it gently by stirring with a spatula that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry. Frost the top and sides of the cake with smooth or swirly strokes.

Use a spatula to transfer it to a serving dish or a covered container. The cake keeps, covered in the refrigerator, for at least 3 days. Remove the cake from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before serving to soften the layers and open up the flavors.

NOTE: For a slightly more bittersweet filling and frosting, use 61% to 64% chocolate and make the following changes to the recipe: Increase the first amount of cream to 1 ¾ cups, and reduce the second amount to ½ cup. Reduce the amount of chocolate to 10 ounces. Bring the 1 ¾ cups of cream to a simmer and pour it over the chocolate. Mix well and transfer ¾ cup of the mixture to another bowl and combine it with the remaining ½ cup of cream. Continue as directed.

Source: Flour Flavors by Alice Medrich [Artisan, 2014]