Chocolate Coconut Cake Squares a.k.a. Lamingtons!

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Chocolate Coconut Cake Squares a.k.a. Lamingtons!
Chocolate Coconut Cake Squares a.k.a. Lamingtons!
This is a recipe that I have not made in a very, very long time. It was almost a lost recipe to me and when I saw it in my sister's Facebook timeline from a blog called Sweet Little Bluebird, the memories came flooding back. My sister Brenda tells me that our Nan Morgan made them which makes sense since she loved anything coconut but I remember them as a very common treat even at kid birthday parties. I went digging through some local old church cookbooks and sure enough, there was the recipe. The original recipe calls for a cake mix but I haven't used one of those in decades; the vanilla scratch cake recipe included here was perfect to use with these dessert squares.

Baby and wedding showers seemed to be more common back in those days and inevitably in rural Newfoundland where I grew up, there was far more food than the ladies present could ever consume. Every lady was certain to leave with the same Tupperware container she brought along but return with it filled with a selection of the treats that the other women had contributed. Besides the ham and cheese and egg salad sandwiches that were always mainstays, as well as a great selection of sweet treats, I remember these little cake squares as being a very common contribution to the celebrations too.

As small children we must have eaten hundreds of these but somehow the popularity of this dessert faded over the years. I have no idea why; they are so moist, soft, chocolatey and scrumptiously coconut covered. My kids had never had them until I made them this past weekend and quickly went through several of them in the first two days. I've frozen the rest of the batch into to enjoy later but I suspect the kids will sneak a few from the basement freezer before long. I'll have to guard them closely.

UPDATE: The first day I posted this recipe I heard from literally  dozens of Australians informing me that these were an Aussie favorite called Lamingtons, reportedly named for Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland at the turn of the 20th century. How this recipe became popular in Newfoundland in the 1960's or possibly earlier is a mystery to me but I received so many responses from Australia, New Zealand and even as far east as Hong Kong, I've updated the recipe title to reflect its heritage.

Chocolate Coconut Cake Squares a.k.a. Lamingtons!

Recipe by Barry C. Parsons
Chocolate Coconut Cake Squares a.k.a. Lamingtons! - a decades old, nostalgic recipe that deserves a resurgence in popularity. Easy, moist, soft vanilla cake, dipped in chocolate syrup and rolled in dried coconut.

Prep time: Approximately 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: Several hours including cooling and freezing time for the cake.
Yield: 24 dessert squares

  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons good quality vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • Aproximately 4 cups dried shreded coconut
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  1. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together both flours, baking soda. baking powder, salt and sugar, Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the vegetable oil, shortening and vanilla. Beat well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy
  4. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.
  6. I always add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in 2 divisions. It is very important to begin and end the additions with the dry ingredients. Do not over mix the batter. As soon as it has no lumps in the batter, pour into the prepared 9x13 inch pan.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan.
  8. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap and place in the freezer until the cake is completely frozen.
  9. When frozen, lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment paper as an aid and cut it into 24 squares. Return to the freezer until ready to dip in the chocolate syrup and coconut.
  10. TO PREPARE THE CHOCOLATE SYRUP whisk together the sugar and cocoa. This helps to remove any small lumps from the cocoa.
  11. Add the vanilla and water.
  12. Bring to a slow rolling boil and cook for 5-6 minutes. The syrup should thicken slightly but will still be quite thin.
  13. Cool completely to room temperature.
  14. Working quickly, dip the frozen cake cubes into the syrup. You don't want to soak too much syrup into the cake.
  15. Quickly roll the soaked cake into the coconut and place on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry.
  16. Store in airtight plastic containers. If you are freezing the dessert squares put them back into the freezer right away. 
Chocolate Coconut Cake Squares a.k.a. Lamingtons!

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