Australians have it right with this tasty treat. Cake bites dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut? Awesome. I actually discovered lamingtons in Fiji, and found them again in New Zealand. So it’s not just Australians enjoying them. In both of those places the lammingtons we were served had chocolate cake. Crossing the Pacific from Seattle to Sydney on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, some days they served Lamingtons in the little café in the Royal Promenade. In my opinion this was the best dessert to be found anywhere on the ship. The first few days they had them they were easy to get. Only about a fourth of the passengers were Australian and most of the rest had not yet discovered the deliciousness of a lamington. The other people we sat with at dinner had never heard of them. It didn’t take long before more people tried them and the café ran out of lamingtons earlier and earlier on days they served them. One day I got a plateful as soon as the lunch stuff came out and brought them to dinner to share since nobody else had managed to find them yet. They all loved them once they got the chance to try them. Unlike the ones I’d tried in other countries, these lamingtons had white cake rather than chocolate. Later looking them up later online I found out that the white cake is the traditional one, though there are recipes out there for the ones with chocolate cake, and also ones with raspberry frosting instead of chocolate and some with jelly inside the cake.
The original recipe I found was a traditional Australian recipe, but for an 8×12 pan, which I don’t have so I had to adjust the quantities for a 13×9. After baking it and dipping it into the chocolate I discovered they came out better when cutting each cake square in half so the pieces were more the height of a brownie rather than the height of a piece of cake. Which turned into double the amount of lamingtons so unless you want a whole lot it’s better to go with an 8×8 pan instead, which is what this recipe is for.
The recipe calls for desiccated coconut, something that is readily available in Australia, but not so much in the USA. At least not where I live. Instead I got unsweetened organic flaked coconut and put it in the blender for a few seconds. I used a vitamix, which has a special blade intended for grinding dry ingredients, but since you just need to make the coconut into smaller pieces a regular blender or food processer should work too.
5 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup milk
2-2 1/2 cups desiccated coconut (if you can’t find desiccated coconut get unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut and put it in the blender to chop it into smaller bits.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C). Line 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper with overhanging paper on all sides for easy removal.
Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until the batter is smooth. Put flour and baking powder into a flour sifter and sift half into batter. Mix in and add half the milk. Repeat with other half of flour and milk, mixing thoroughly after final addition.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until center springs back when touched or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Take cake out of pan and let it cool overnight on a wire rack covered with a clean dish towel because it needs time to firm up before dipping or it will be too crumbly. Cut cake into 9 pieces and then cut each piece in half so it is brownie height rather than cake height.
Set heat-proof bowl or double boiler over pan of hot water. Blend all frosting ingredients. Leave frosting over hot water while dipping lamingtons so the chocolate stays warm and thin enough for dipping. Just the water needs to be hot, the pan does not need to be on a burner or being heated while dipping the lamingtons. Two forks work pretty well for dipping. Hold the lamington between them, do not stab the fork through it. Then use the forks to roll it around in the chocolate and gently pick it up when done. Let excess chocolate drip off before transferring lamington into the coconut.
Put a small amount of the coconut in a small bowl. It’s best not to use all of it at once so it doesn’t all get full of chocolate. Roll each lamington in coconut as soon as you take it out of the chocolate dip, then set it on a plate to dry. Repeat the process with each lamington.
Once the lamingtons are dry they can be stored in a Tupperware type container. If you stack them on top of each other put a sheet of waxed paper between the layers so they don’t stick to each other.
If you make too many and want to save some for later they do freeze well.