Wayne Thiebaud, Frosted Fractions, 1963

Here are 3 more coconut stories from Church Lady Cake Diaries and Eatonville Restaurant’s Makes-Me-Wanna SHOUT! Coconut Cake Semifinalists.  You can sample all the semifinalists’ cake memories Saturday, March 19 from 2 – 4 PM at Miriam’s Kitchen (2401 Virginia Ave., NW).  Tickets are $15.  Purchase tickets from this link.  Sales benefit Miriam’s Kitchen.  14 coconut cakes will compete in the semifinals.  Read all about it.  More stories to come.


I don’t remember what recipe brought me into that seldom-used room in my apartment, but I had to cook SOMETHING for a work potluck, and for the first time, I saw the pure joy in cooking and sharing food. Eating is meant to be communal and for so long I spent that time alone with my 5-WW [Weight Watchers] point pasta. How sad!    Now I find such joy in messing around in the kitchen. Sure, sometimes my food fails (I ruined pancakes once. How is that possible?) but it’s always at least a good story. I’m not only providing yummy food for my family and friends, I’m nourishing myself by finding joy in what used to be this horrific struggle. I get to create food my mom and grandma made (including this cake recipe) and I feel like I’m living up to their examples.    

Lindsey Wahowiak, Washington, DC

Everyone loved my mother’s coconut cake.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, church ladies, and in-laws.  The in-laws weren’t crazy about mom, but they loved her coconut cake.    As a child, I would sit and watch her grate coconut on an old box grater.  When those exotic brown shapes appeared in the kitchen, my brother and I knew we were in for a treat.  We would hang around waiting for the coconut ‘nubs’ — the pieces so small she couldn’t grate them down any further.  What a treat!    Mom is gone now, and her recipe with her.  For years I have been looking for that recipe, to no avail.  So, I finally decided I would have to create one of my own.  While this is not mom’s recipe, I feel especially close to her when making this cake.  I also have the satisfaction of sharing the coconut cake experience with one of my own daughters.

Decoyise Brown, Waldorf, MD

I was never a Girl Scout. Neither was my little sister. And yet, we have always been obsessed with Girl Scout cookies.  My favorites were Tagalongs, those delicious chocolate dipped peanut butter cookies. But my sister always loved Samoas.  She loved them so much that the second our mother brought home the box, she would grab it, run for her room, and no one would ever see those cookies again. I spent my entire childhood deprived of Samoas.

Just last month, in the midst of another Girl Scout cookie season, I finally bought my very own box of Samoas.   Then tragedy struck.  My little sister came home from college, and ate them all.  Instead of getting mad, I decided to get creative. My sister and I baked a cake inspired by the Samoa cookie.  And not just in taste, but also in appearance. We made a vanilla/coconut cake, covered in a layer of gooey caramel, with toasted coconut and a drizzle of chocolate ganache.  Now, I never have to be deprived of the delicious cookie. Because while my sister can eat an entire box of cookies by herself, she still has not managed to eat an entire cake.

Erin McDougal, Bethesda, MD

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