Miss Patsy’s Too Easy Coconut Cake (And a tale of Meant To Be)

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This is the second coconut cake recipe on SouthernPlate.com. To see my recipe for Daddy’s Coconut Cake, please click here.

Today I had planned on impressing you with my detailed listing of the name of every teacher who has ever taught me. I even had the entire post written up in a rough draft, weaving a storyline in betwixt of the impact all of my teachers have had on who I am today. But sometimes, just because you are ready to tell a story, doesn’t mean it is time for that particular story to be told.

You see I just returned home, and now I have another story.

This morning Brady had to go take a placement test at his school so I took my computer up there with me, thinking I’d sit and work on my blog post while I waited – but apparently that wasn’t what I was meant to do today. I just love it when our own plans are pushed aside for something better, don’t you?

I learned back on my book tour how important it is to pay attention to people who are placed right in front of you, or in many cases beside you. Up until last October, I was not well acquainted with traveling by myself and had never thought I would be. But I found myself on countless flights that month, each time traveling alone, and just about every time sitting  right next to the exact person I needed to be sitting next to. At the start of my tour I would carry a book as a backup plan but by the time the end of my tour rolled around I would just get on the plane, situate my stuff, and sit and wait to see what was in store for me. I’d watch the door  as other passengers boarded and got so in tune with the ebb and flow of fate that oftentimes I instantly recognized who my seatmate was the moment they came on the plane. “Well, lets see what I’m gonna learn on this leg of my trip” I’d think to myself.

Sometimes it would be a person I would have an opportunity to help in some way, sometimes it would be a person who was there to help me in some way, but each time I sat beside someone with an open and receptive heart, I was able to glean the wisdom they were there to give and as a result, each time I got off an airplane, I was a better person than when I had boarded.

Interesting point: Every time this has happened to me, it has always begun with the other person looking me straight in the eye and smiling. Perhaps that single gesture is the divine prompting or introduction saying “Alright Christy, here we go..”

It’s amazing how many people like this are put into our lives every single day. It’s like a fishing pole with bait is placed right before us all throughout the day and whenever we bite, whenever we pay attention to it, we get the benefit of the worm. I shudder to think of how many times I’ve waded right through water infested with worm filled hooks just waiting on me and I never noticed a single one because my mind is too busy with tasks at hand or worries of the day.

Like most other fish in this big ocean of ours, I’ve suffered some severe malnutrition in my time simply by not taking notice of the worms around me.

And so, as I’ve grown in years and lessened slightly in my own foolishness, I’ve learned to be more receptive.

Such as today, when a lady walked into the empty art room I was busy typing away in and sat down, looking into my eyes with a smile and a whispered “I’m sorry, is it okay to wait in here?” I smiled back and said “Oh sure, and don’t worry about being quiet. I’m so used to having kids hollering about that the quiet actually bothers me to work in anyway.”

Her smile had come just as easily as my own and over the next few minutes we struck up a conversation that had me closing my computer and leaning in on it as she spoke. It was one of those conversations where a stranger begins suddenly sharing their heart with you and every word seems to echo one that was already in your head. Definitely not a coincidence, but a meant-to-be.

Teresa and I were both still talking when her son got finished with the test and came in to patiently wait on us. We were still talking several minutes later when Brady came in and sat down to patiently wait on us. When we finally rose to exit, we continued talking down the hallway, down the stairs, into the lobby, and down the front walkway of the school. She encouraged me, she enlightened me, she shared with me words of wisdom that echoed thoughts already in my head and words of wisdom that turned on light bulbs.

I had expected to get some work done but I didn’t realize when I woke up this morning and someone else was planning on orchestrating an encouragement session for me through the guise of a stranger waiting in an empty classroom.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in meant-to-be. It’s not only early birds who get the worm. It’s the person who has the sense to see it when it looks them in the eye and smiles.

I think we’re all offered worms each day. It is our own fault if we go away hungry.

This cake is from another gem of a person who was placed into my life, Miss Patsy McGough. We had a ladies meeting at church this past Sunday and everyone was asked to bring a dish. Lo and behold, I ended up with a piece of one of the best coconut cakes I’ve ever had on my plate and guess who should make it but Miss Patsy herself!

I chatted with her a few precious minutes and it turns out she follows Southern Plate. I said, “This cake is wonderful” and she replied “Aw honey, I hate to tell anyone the recipe because it’s just too easy!”. I assured her that the recipes I always thought of as “too easy” were the ones that were the biggest hits on Southern Plate and when she shared it with me I remarked about how it was very much like my Butterfinger cake, which is one of the most popular recipes on the website. She was kind enough to give me permission to share her recipe with you and I know you’re going to enjoy the ease and amazing coconut infused taste of this light tasting cake.

Miss Patsy, just getting to talk to you those few minutes made my step a little lighter and my heart a little happier. I hope you read this post and understand that when I say you were definitely a worm for me that day, I mean that in the best kind of way!

You’ll need: Yellow Cake Mix (which you will prepare according to package directions), Cream of Coconut, sweetened flaked coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and some whipped topping*.

I’m using Dollar General generic whipped topping because I’m all elite like that ~grins~

Prepare your cake according to package directions.

Normally, we’d make a 9×13 cake but with only four of us and all of the baking I do, that is just too much cake. So today I’m dividing it up and making two 8×8 cakes instead, then I can send the other one to a neighbor, friend, or family member. Whoever picks up the phone when I call 🙂

Pour your sweetened condensed milk in a bowl…

You know, any time a recipe calls for a whole can of sweetened condensed milk, I always add almost a whole can…because I have to have a little bit for myself! I love this stuff.  A few folks have posted on Facebook and in comments that they use it in my iced coffee concentrate to make the perfect cup of coffee and that is at the top of my to do list to try one of these days.

Add your cream of coconut.

Give that a good stir

As soon as your cakes are done, poke holes all in the top of them with a fork.

I am using a plastic fork because I was photographing this and sent Brady into the kitchen to get me one and this is what he brought back.

For a moment I paused and thought about “Now it won’t look very nice if I’m using a plastic fork in the photos on Southern Plate”. Then I immediately got over myself and just used it. We’re all family here, anytime we feel the need to put on airs we’re just wasting energy that can best be spent cleaning our kitchens anyway.

Pour the mixture over your hot cake.

Like so.

It’ll all soak in there real good over time. Now cover your cake and let it cool, then put it in the refrigerator until it is completely cold.

Once your cake is good and cold, ice with whipped topping.

If you want, you can make this from scratch but I usually opt for doing it the easy way because it saves a lot of money and is one less dish to wash.

My recipe for homemade whipped cream is on this post (click here).

Now we need to toast our coconut. You can add it on there as it is but toasting it gives it a neat, nutty texture and a beautiful color. Either way, just go with what you’re in the mood for but I’m gonna show ya how to toast it just in case.

Place coconut on a baking sheet and put it in a 350 degree oven.

Watch this carefully and stir it often until it is nice and uniformly brown, anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

Here it is, all done! You can toast it more or less, depending on the level of patience you have at the time you are fooling with it.

Let it cool for a few minutes when you’re done before moving on to the next step.

Sprinkle that on top of your cake and you’re ready to go!

Enjoy – and share!


This recipe format and the “save recipe” feature (see top of recipe above) is brand new to Southern Plate! You can now save Southern Plate recipes to a recipe box and use that box to add ingredients to a grocery list as well. There is even a free corresponding iPhone app that allows you to access your recipe box on your telephone (Just search for ZipList in the app store). I am in the process of coding every single recipe on SouthernPlate.com to work with this great new feature so in the meantime you may notice that some recipes do and some don’t as of yet. I hope to have them all converted in the next few weeks so stay tuned!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

~ Melody Beattie

Submitted by Michelle. Submit your quote by clicking here (I always need more quotes!)

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  1. Hi Christy
    Love this recipe I live in UK and don’t use boxed cake mixes as they taste processed plus have a husband who is gluten free. Could I use a coconut cake as base and leave the cream of coconut out and just pour the condensed milk over

    1. You will want to mix the condensed milk with something firstly to thin it out as straight condensed milk will not soak and secondly to take a bit of the rich sweetness off it. I suggest you mix it with evaporated milk. This is what you’d do if making pastel de tres leches which is a very similar cake. If not evaporated milk then plain light/skim milk.

  2. i have made this cake for years, it is one my family always asks for. the only difference is that i only use a can of cream of coconut, and fresh coconut or the frozen kind…it is way too sweet for us with both the condensed milk and the cream of coconut.

  3. One of my favorite cakes. And three pregnancies produced a LOVE for sweetened condensed milk..straight from the can sitting in front of the tv! Now I don’t scrape too hard with the spatula when pouring into a recipe…cause I need some of it just to taste..and roll around on my tongue…. and sigh!!!!

  4. I make a similar cake. We love pineapple, so I do the same you did but I leave out the can of milk. Instead, I pour an entire can of crushed pineapple over the cake after the cream of coconut.

    I love your website! Thanks for all the recipes and wonderful stories…

  5. Made this cake for a graduation party last weekend and it was a hit, everyone loved it…. One lady told me, oh this is good, so good I wanna take it to bed and eat on it all nite. lol…… Love your receipes, I’m from the northwest and there are alot of things on here I’ve never tried or heard of, but I’m loving the trial and error….Making sticky chicken on Sunday, wish me luck !!!

  6. I made this cake to bring to work, in 2 8×8 pans, a bit easier to carry in a tote bag on the bus than a 9×13. It’s a big hit. I’m glad I brought it to share cause otherwise I would eat way too much myself!

    One thing I noticed, my condensed milk-coconut cream mixture pooled up along the sides of the pan cause my cake had pulled away some. So I just poured it back into the measuring cup, waited a minute and then poured it on again. That time, it soaked right in to the top. And I didn’t toast my coconut but it’s just as good with “raw” coconut on top.

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