Preparing the Cake Components

Preparing the Cake Components

To start, prepare two layers of the chocolate cake  recipe. Once baked, be sure to allow the cakes to cool properly before taking the next steps. Once cooled, wrap and chill the layers in the refrigerator. Always use cold cakes to assemble multi-layered cakes as the chill makes make them easier to handle and helps to prevent breakage.

Next, prepare the caramel sauce, and allow to stay at room temperature or slightly warm. If too cool, the caramel sauce will be too thick and be difficult to spread. Before assembling, add the toasted coconut and pecans to the caramel sauce.

  • 2 Fran’s Chocolate Cake recipe
  • 1 Fran’s Caramel Sauce
  • 1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup toasted, pecans, cooled and coarsely chopped
  • splash of almond milk, to thin caramel sauce as needed

Step 2: Assembling the Cake

Assembling the Cake

To assemble the cake, begin by spooning small dollops of the filling on the first layer. Spread or nudge small areas at a time, so you don’t tear the cake. Stop short of the very edge of the layer, leaving about 1/2-inch uncovered to allow the filling to spread as the cake is layered. This layer does not have to be perfect since another layer will be going on top.

Sprinkle the filling with half of the remaining coconut and chopped pecans. Place the top layer onto the filling and lightly press it down.

Stick a wooden skewer down into the middle of the cake to keep the layers from sliding. Spread the top layer with the remaining caramel sauce.

To present this cake, sprinkle it with the remaining chopped pecans and toasted coconut. Note that this cake is quite sweet, so a little goes a long way.

  • 1/4 cup toasted shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans, cooled and coarsely

The Caramel Sauce

“Classic” Caramel Sauce

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This caramel sauce is made in the same way that classic caramel sauce is made — by caramelizing sugar; however this caramel sauce just happens to be dairy-, butter- and refined sugar-free, yet it’s missing none of the flavor!

  • Serves: 1 cup
  • Active Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins

Step 1: Caramelizing the Sugar

Caramelizing the Sugar


Sugar Note: Most chefs say that only granulated sugar can be successfully caramelized; other sugars — such as brown sugar and unrefined sugar such as cane sugar — contain impurities that can inhibit caramelization. It’s those impurities that can burn before the sugar has time to caramelize. Adding a liquid, such as water, will help to mitigate this problem. That being said, it can be a little tricky when working with sugar, so don’t get frustrated.

Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium to low heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sugar caramelizes and turns golden brown. Do not stir the mixture as the sugar heats or it can start to crystallize. Instead, gently tilt and/or swirl the pan side-to-side to ensure the sugar cooks and colors evenly.

  • 1 cup cane sugar*
  • 3/4 cup water

Step 2: Adding the Coconut Cream

Adding the Coconut Cream

Note: Use only the thick coconut cream from the surface of the can. You may find it easier to separate the thick cream from the coconut water by placing the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.

Once the sugar is golden, immediately remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the coconut cream. Wear oven mitts and be very careful. The cold cream will splatter when it hits the hot sugar. The sugar may also clump a bit, but don’t worry, simply keep whisking until the sugar has been fully incorporated into the coconut cream.

At this point, the caramel sauce is ready to be used. If using as is, let cool slightly before using as it is still extremely hot.

  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk* (1-14 oz can)

Step 3: Adding Additional Flavorings | Optional

Adding Additional Flavorings | Optional

Note: We used fleur de sel salt, but any other quality sea salt should work just fine. The amount used depends on how salty you like your caramel.

The salt and/or lemon zest provides a nice contrast against the sweetness of the caramelized sugar.

Any leftover caramel sauce can be kept in a plastic container or squeeze bottle and stored in the refrigerator for quite a few days.

  • 1/2 to 1 tsp fleur de sel*
  • 1 to 2 pieces lemon zest


When you caramelize sugar be sure to give it your undivided attention. It can turn from clear liquid to burnt caramel in a matter of seconds. At 350°F it is also very hot and can cause severe burning if it splatters on your skin. Also, make sure your pan and utensils are very clean because any food particles could cause the sugar to crystallize.

To prevent crystallization you can add an interfering agent; just a tiny amount of acid will do, such as cream of tartar or a drop of lemon juice. Don’t be intimidated, even experienced chefs sometimes burn the caramel or have the sugar crystallize.

If you are new to making caramel sauce, it’s a good idea to keep a deep bowl of water with lots of ice in it nearby. If some caramel lands on your hand, immediately put your hand right into the ice bath. It’s also a good idea to wear an oven mitt, especially when adding the coconut cream.