Bienmesabe de Coco – Venezuelan Coconut Cream Cake

Around the Spanish-speaking world, you can find several versions of a dessert called bienmesabe — Spanish for “tastes good to me.” The original version, from Spain’s Canary Islands, is an almond custard. This recipe is for bienmesabe as it’s made in Venezuela. Sponge cake or fingers are layered with coconut cream and topped with meringue for a decadently rich and sweet treat.

Bien Me Sabe (Venezuela Coconut Cream Cake)
Bien Me Sabe, also known as Coconut Cream Cake, is a Venezuelan dessert that is moist, sweet and rich. Similar to a tres leches cake, Bien Me Sabe is best when allowed to chill overnight.
Cuisine: Venezuelan
Recipe type: Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For cake
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 large eggs
  • 7½ tablespoons sugar (divided into 2 x 3 ¾ tablespoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
For cake moistening syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup light rum
For vanilla coconut cream filling
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4½ tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For topping / meringue
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 190°C.
  2. Before starting with the cake, infuse milk with coconut, therefore bring the 5 cups milk and 1 cup of coconut (as listed in vanilla coconut cream) to a boil, cover and set aside.
For the cake
  1. Butter a 20 x 23 cm baking tin, cut pieces of baking paper and line bottom and sides tightly with the paper and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour and baking powder and set aside.
  3. Separate eggs (Make sure that no egg yolk enters egg whites as egg whites do not whip when traces of yolk is present).
  4. In bowl whip egg yolks for a minute. Add half of the sugar (3¾ tablespoons sugar) and whip until mixture is light in colour and makes thick ribbons, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  5. In separate bowl whip egg whites, remaining 3¾ tablespoons sugar and cream of tartar on medium speed to soft medium peaks. Using a hand held spatula fold whipped egg whites into whipped egg yolk mixture. Do not overfold to prevent the mixture from collapsing.
  6. Add half of flour and gently fold until incorporated, add remaining flour and combine ensuring a light mixture. Scrape in pan and place in oven. Bake until centre of cake bounces back when lightly pressed with a finger or an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and turn upside down onto a surface lined with paper towels. Let cool.
Prepare cake moistening syrup
  1. Bring sugar and water to a boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and place in refrigerator. Add rum when completely cool.
Prepare vanilla coconut cream
  1. Strain milk to remove coconut, you should obtain 4 cups, if necessary add a little milk to obtain 4 cups. Discard coconut. Bring milk, salt and first ½ cup sugar to a boil.
  2. In a separate bowl combine yolks, water and cornflour and whisk well. Add second ½ cup sugar and vanilla and whisk until very well blended.
  3. When milk boils, pour egg yolk mixture into milk and using a firm whisk stir vigorously until milk boils again and mixture thickens like mayonnaise and makes thick bubbles. .
  4. Remove from heat, remove whisk and cover cream with plastic food film touching custard. Place saucepan in bowl filled with cold water. After a few minutes remove water and replace with fresh cold water and ice cubes. (This will cool cream fast and prevent bacteria growth).
  5. Slice cooled cake horizontally in 3 equal layers using a serrated knife. Place one cake layer on a serving tray. Using a pastry brush, brush one third of the rum syrup onto the cake layer.
  6. Spread half of the vanilla coconut cream on the moistened cake. Top with another cake layer. Brush with another third of rum syrup. Cover with remaining vanilla coconut cream. Top with remaining cake layer and brush with remaining syrup. Place in refrigerator.
For meringue
  1. Combine egg whites, sugar, water and vanilla in bowl and place over a saucepan filled with simmering water. Whisk fast and continuously until a thermometer registers 60°C. Remove from heat and whip until lukewarm and meringue is stiff.
  2. Spread on surface of cake using a spatula. Cut in desired size and serve. Keep cake refrigerated.

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