Now that an entire year has passed since I started The Smart Cookie Cook, I have but one regret: that I didn’t start it sooner.
This website is the most gratifying, enjoyable thing I do in my life. I’m not ashamed to admit that college takes a backseat to Smart Cookie (but never fear, I still pull off good grades!). This is where my passion lies, in my food, my cooking, my baking, and in sharing it with you. I am so glad I have the opportunity to bring my Smart Cookie twists, tips, and tricks to all of you. When I make something delicious or think of something brilliant, my first thought is always, “I can’t wait to put this on Smart Cookie!”
My goal has always been, and will always be, to put smart twists on every dish, to make food the best it can be. From the start, I’ve wanted to bring you recipes that are both delicious and unique. I’m not satisfied with giving you good; it’s got to be great. Not only do I plan to keep on doing what I’m doing, but I plan to get even better. And you can bet your sticky buns that I’ll keep on churning out creative recipes, ingenious tips, and super fun videos. There’s nothing else I’d rather do. (Except maybe star on Food Network…)
Thank you so much to those who have supported me. And thank you to those who are just joining me. Nothing makes me happier than garnering new readers. I love to have you here. I hope you’ll keep stopping by in the years to come, because it’s only going to get better from here.
Now, we can’t have a proper birthday celebration without cake. I had a hard time deciding what flavor to choose until I asked myself an obvious question: What’s my favorite cake? I then realized this was a loaded question, because I have multiple favorites. If I had to narrow it down to two, I’d probably say strawberry cake and coconut cake. Rather than ripping my hair out over trying to choose between the two, I decided to fuse both flavors into one cake.
And man, was it good.
This Strawberry-Coconut Poke Cake is everything I love in one perfect dessert. I started with a moist and tender strawberry cake. That alone was fantastic, made with fresh strawberries, & worlds better than a boxed mix. I can also attest to it being the most delicious cake batter I’ve had, so much so that I’m freakin’ lucky I didn’t get salmonella.
I took that great cake and made it greater. How, you ask? I poked it and soaked it with sweet strawberry syrup and indulgent cream of coconut. It’s intensely infused with those fruity, tropical flavors. Plus, you know it’s going to be decadently moist and succulent. That’s the great thing about a poke cake; you never have to worry about it being dry.
Then comes the best part: Coconut Whipped Cream-Mascarpone Frosting. Yeah, sounds amazing, right? Well, it tastes even better. It’s light yet rich and creamy, then kissed with coconut flavor. This may be what the clouds in Jamaica taste like. But that’s just a theory.
This cool and refreshing cake = perfect for summer. It tastes so light, which may trick you into eating one honkin’ slice. Don’t fight it; this heavenly cake is worth it.
If this doesn’t say “Happy Birthday, Smart Cookie,” than nothing does.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- Make sure you watch the video to catch the step-by-step instruction, plus hear me (poorly) sing “Happy Birthday”!
- I can get around you using a boxed strawberry cake mix if you promise to make this AMAZING frosting. It’s the easiest frosting ever, and so darn good.
- You can add food dye to the cake and/or strawberry syrup to make the color more vibrant. I added a few drops to the syrup, but not the cake.
- Can’t find cream of coconut? Use coconut milk instead.
- You could make this as a 2-tiered round cake if you wanted.
- You should make this early the day you plan to eat it or, even better, the night before. It takes some prep time between the cooling and chilling. Plus, the longer it chills, the greater the flavor.
- “Hulled” simply means removing the green parts from the strawberries.
- The colder the cream, the quicker it will whip. In fact, I recommend putting your mixing bowl in the freezer for a few minutes before whipping.
Strawberry-Coconut Poke Cake
Makes 12-16 servings
For the cake
Cake adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Classic White Cake and Good Things Catered
- 16 oz. very ripe strawberries, hulled
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temp
- red food dye, optional
- 3/4 cup cream of coconut
For the strawberry syrup
Syrup adapted from Taste of Home
- 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup water
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. strawberry gelatin
- red food dye, optional
For the Coconut Whipped Cream-Mascarpone Frosting
Frosting by The Smart Cookie Cook
- 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp. coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
*Note: It’s a good idea to macerate the strawberries the day before so they don’t set you back time-wise when you’re ready to make the cake.
- Slice strawberries and toss with a teaspoon or two of sugar and cover. Let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, until nice and juicy.
- Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree until completely smooth.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch pan. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup puree, milk, egg, vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. If you have leftover puree, you can refrigerate for later use.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine. Beat in butter at low speed. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs. Add puree-mixture and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds. Note: The batter will not get any pinker in the oven, so if you’re disappointed in the color from your berries, add a drop or two of pink or red food coloring.
- Poor batter into prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely (about 1 hour).
- While the cake cools, make the strawberry syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the strawberries, water and sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes or until berries are soft. Strain into a small bowl, pressing berries lightly; discard pulp. Add gelatin to syrup, stirring to dissolve completely. Cool to room temperature.
- Use a knife sharpener or the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes in the cake, leaving a 1/2-inch barrier around the perimeter of the cake. Poor the strawberry syrup evenly over the cake’s surface, letting it seep into the holes. Give it a minute to absorb then pour the cream of coconut over top, using a spatula to press it down into the cake. Cover and refrigerate until fully absorbed and set, about 2 hours.
- Make the frosting: In a medium mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese until soft. Add the cream, vanilla, and coconut milk and whip until stiff peaks form. Make sure the mixture is homogenous and the mascarpone isn’t sitting at the bottom. Add a bit more coconut milk if you’d like it more coconutty. Immediately spread onto chilled cake in an even layer. Top with the shredded coconut. Refrigerate cake for at least 2 hours before eating. The longer it chills, the better the flavor will be. However, you can serve immediately if you’re on a time constraint.
- Store cake in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to four days.