Despite living in a country practically surrounded by coconut trees, I don't recall ever eating coconut cake in any shape or form. Coconut and its byproducts have been mainly used here to create sweet native delicacies like pies (made with lard dough) or thickened and caramelized with either rice or certain root crops like cassava. I don't think coconut cake has ever caught on here or is even a dessert indigenous to countries where coconuts thrive the most. Well, not here in the Philippines anyway. I will even be bold enough to assume that this cake is purely a western concoction. But please do correct me if I'm wrong! :)
However, even with this bold assumption, I can surely taste the essence of the tropics in this wonderful coconut cake which you can find in Rose Levy Beranbaum's book Rose's Heavenly Cakes. The coconut flavor really shines through in both the batter and the whipped cream as I used the optional coconut cream powder. It really is an intensely coconut cake that truly seduces your palate (as the name of this cake suggests). The desiccated coconut adds a little texture to the cake as well and the absence of sugar in the whipped cream, which is merely sweetened by the existing sugar of the flaked coconut topping, just balances beautifully with the sweetness and richness of the cake itself. The coconut cream powder even did an amazing job stabilizing the whipped cream -- I left the cake in room temperature for a few hours and still looked perfect afterwards! My only complaint with this cake though is that it is a little on the dry side given the lack of egg yolks and perhaps because of the dry nature of the desiccated coconut. I wonder why Rose had not used a yellow cake for this one instead? Maybe she liked the look and concept of a monochromatic coconut cake?
By the way, I used Rose's Heavenly Cake strip when I made this cake and it really does a great job at keeping the crust light and even! Wish they came in more sizes.