So I have lived a lot of years and eaten A LOT of desserts. And I went too many years without knowing how amazing raffaello cake really is. A delicious Ferrero candy (the lesser known sibling of Ferrero Rocher) reimagined and reinvented into an easy almond coconut cake, bringing all the candy flavors into a simple, single layer cake recipe.
I am a huge fan of the single layer cake. They are simple to make, only require one pan, and are not overwhelming to frost or decorate. And let's be honest, most of the time (though not all of the time), we don't really need double or triple layers of cake.
Plus, if you are like me, and really enjoy a homemade cake, single layer is the way to go to keep your waistline in check...a simple small slice of my chocolate toffee crunch cake or carrot cake, or this almond coconut cake is just enough for a sweet weeknight treat.
What is a raffaello?
So this is a great question and one I only got the answer to recently. If you love coconut and don't know about Raffaello, then you're gonna want to kiss me now. Raffaello is a coconut candy made by Ferrero, the Italian company that also makes the ever so popular, Ferrero Roche.
But unlike the Roche candy, a Raffaello has no chocolate. It is simply an almond enveloped in a rich coconut cream inside a wafer covered in white chocolate and shredded (dessicated as some call it) coconut. Think, Almond Joy, but SO MUCH BETTER and more refined.
I didn't even know about them until someone gifted to me last Christmas. I have been hell bent on creating this confection into a Raffaello cake recipe ever since.
How to make this Raffaello cake
After many attempts, and several elaborate multi layer cakes, I have paired this down to a single layer almond coconut cake that brings out all the best flavors in the Ferrero Raffaello candy.
- Almond cake recipe - The almond in the candy is not overwhelming, it is simple and pure (just an almond). In keeping with this, I have created a light white cake scented with almond extract and a little bit of almond flour.
- Coconut cream frosting - Here's where the coconut comes in. To keep it single layer, still delicious and a true Rafaello recipe, we are topping the cake recipe with a light and delicious coconut cream swiss meringue frosting. This frosting has a little bit of white chocolate in it, just like the candy's coating.
- Shredded unsweetened coconut - You can use sweetened shredded coconut, but I prefer unsweetened, as I think it has more genuine coconut flavor. Also not - dessicated coconut is the same as shredded coconut. Americans (at the least in the Midwest) call it shredded coconut, while I believe internationally it is referred to as dessicated.
The almond cake couldn't be simpler to make with just a few basic ingredients.
- Almond flour. I like to include part almond flour, but you can leave it out if you don't have it or can't find it, simply go with 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of regular flour.
- Baking powder
- Oil. I prefer oil based cakes, I think it makes them more moist and better texture.
- Almond extract. Do not use this like you would maybe use vanilla extract. And I mean, using more than the recipe calls for because you love the flavor. ALmond extract is NOT like vanilla extract. The flavor is strong and a little goes a real long way. Thinking you will improve upon the almond flavor by increasing the extract is wrong, you will end up with a harsh and fake flavor to your cake (think cleaner or soap). Stick with what I recommend. And if you can't find or don't have it, leave it out and opt for a ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.
- Buttermilk. My favorite milk for cakes.
To make the coconut cream swiss meringue, you'll need:
- Egg whites.
- Coconut milk. Use the canned coconut milk, not the cartons in the refrigerated section.
Swiss Meringue is a buttercream frosting that is made with less sugar than its American counterpart (butter mixed with massive amounts of powdered sugar), and has a luxurious velvety smooth texture. Whipping warmed egg whites with sugar to create a meringue, and then beating butter into it is what gives it the silky smoothness. And the additional of a little coconut milk goes a long way to giving the frosting a true coconut flavor.
Tips for making swiss meringue frosting
I am including some tips to make swiss meringue frosting because I feel like you may find this to be hard or above your skill level, but I promise it is not. I have been makign Swiss meringue for years and it was one of the first frostings I learned, and I almost never make anything else.
My tips for perfect swiss meringue:
- Make sure all your equipment is clean. Like super clean. If there is any grease on the whisk or in the bowl, the meringue will not set.
- Be sure to gently cook your egg whites and sugar. Whisk them together slightly and then put them over a saucepan with simmering water. This will ensure delicate and slow heating of the mixture without turn it into a scrambled egg white nightmare.
- Don't overheat the egg whites. If you have a thermometer it should be between 160 °F and 170 °F. If you don't have a thermometer, this takes about 4 minutes on the simmering water. Look for the mixture to be thin, and not have any granules of sugar.
- Begin whipping the egg white mixture right away while it is still warm. This will take forever, literally forever. But I promise it is worth it and if you have a stand mixer this part is totally hands off.
- After whipping the meringue, be sure to cool it down. If you don't and you add the butter to warm meringue you will melt the butter and it will not emulsify. The meringue largely cools in the eternity it takes to whip, but be sure it is at least room temp before adding that butter.
- Make sure the coconut milk is room temperature, and add the salt, vanilla and coconut milk after all the butter has been incorporated.
Follow these tips and you should be foolproof with your frosting.
Tips for success
Turning Ferrero Raffaello into a great cake recipe isn't hard at all, I promise. Here are a few things to remember:
- This recipe is for an 8-inch round single layer cake. You can of course make in a square cake pan, but the larger you go with the size (ie. 9-inch pan) the thinner the cake and the less the cooking time, so please keep that in mind.
- While a Raffaello cake is an almond coconut cake, you don't want one to overpower the other. What I am getting at is...DO NOT OVER DO THE ALMOND EXTRACT. If I can make one big tip, it would be this one.
- Stand mixer
For the cake
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup almond flour
- 2 tablespoon almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoon oil
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/16 teaspoon almond extract a literal drop
- 6 tablespoon buttermilk
For the frosting
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 10 tablespoon butter cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- ⅓ cup coconut milk canned coconut milk shaken well
- 1 cup shredded (dessicated) unsweetened coconut flakes use sweetened if preferred or if it is what you can find
For the cake
- Heat oven to 350. Spray an 8- inch round cake pan with baking or cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder,and salt and combine.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the oil and sugar, then add eggs one at a time fully beating them in after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extract.
- Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mix in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, alternating each. so do ⅓ of the dry, half the buttermilk, another ⅓ dry, the other half of the buttermilk and the last third of the dry.. Make sure to incorporate after each addition.
- Bake for about 35 mins on the middle rack, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out basically clean (not wet).
- Cool cake in pan for five minutes, then invert on a cooling rack, remove the pan and cool completely.
For the frosting
- In a small, glass mixing bowl (or one that is heatproof), whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water, filled a quarter of the way (water should be low enough that the bowl doesn't touch any water). Warm the egg whites and sugar, whisking a bit, for about 8 minutes. If using a thermometer, it should be 160-170; if not, mixture should be hot to touch and sugar should be dissolved.
- After cooking the mixture, pour it into the bowl of your stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar for a really long time. Like 8-10 minutes on medium-high. They are ready when they are light, bright white, shiny and fluffy like a cloud (aka a meringue). They will have cooled down almost to room temp. If they have not cooled down enough hold off until they are room temp or really close to it (to not melt the butter.
- Turn the speed to low and add the butter two pieces at a time. Make sure the mixer is on low and that you are adding just two pieces at a time, or it will slop over the sides. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another 5 minutes. The butter should be thoroughly emulsified with the meringue. The frosting should be smooth and shiny.
- Tip: If the frosting looks separated and curdled at first, don't freak out, this is how it goes. If your butter is room temp and the meringue is room temp, it will come together. Mine always looks gross and separated until I get all the butter in and totally emulsified.
- Add in the vanilla and the coconut milk and continue beating until both are totally incorporated (just about 3 more minutes).
To assemble the cake
- Take cooled cake and place on serving plate or a cake stand. Spread the frosting on top. Use as little or as much as you like. This frosting is so good that I always use all of it (plus it makes for a fun presentation).
- Sprinkle the shredded (dessicated) coconut all over the top of the cake (I really love coconut, so I use A LOT).