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Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Use this frosting on our Chocolate Cake.

  • yield: Makes enough for one 9-inch 3-layer cake
Photography: Kenji Toma


  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 2/3 cups (7 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped


  1. Step 1

    Combine egg yolks, evaporated milk, and brown sugar in a saucepan. Add butter, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 10 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl.

  2. Step 2

    Stir in vanilla, salt, coconut, and pecans. Let cool completely. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before using.

Martha Stewart Living, August 2007

Reviews (5)

  • 23 Jul, 2013

    I first made this recipe exactly according to directions and found it just too cloyingly sweet (maybe too much brown sugar?). So, I tried again but this time I substituted sweetened condensed milk for the evaporated milk, and opted for a combination of 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1/2 cup caster sugar instead of the 1 1/4 cup of brown sugar the recipe called for and the frosting was just right. I had a hard time keeping the kids and the hubby from eating it while it cooled! Delicious!

  • 26 Feb, 2012

    This recipe was good but not spectacular. Would not make it again. Would have preferred a more caramel flavour. Suspect there was too much milk for the ratio of sugar and butter. This is a similar recipe of my grandmother's: 2/3 c brown sugar, 1/4 c butter, 1/2 c coconut, 1/2 c walnuts, 2 tbsp milk. Cook together 3 mins (until sugar dissolved), spread on cake and place under the broiler until slightly brown. Enough icing for an 8 inch square cake.

  • 22 May, 2011

    The frosting came out perfect! Spread perfect. A go to recipe. Was super easy.

  • 10 Jan, 2011

    I actually had to use sweetened condensed milk as a substitute for the evaporated milk and brown sugar (after researching it), and the results were just fabulous! Very tasty and the consistency was perfect.

  • 26 Sep, 2010

    I loved the frosting and can't imagine ever buying a premade kind again! The recipe calls for toasting the pecans, which can cause a strong taste even if they're only lightly toasted. I think it's a case of personal preference whether or not you'll like the toasting, but it was a hit in my house!