Prep: 1. Separate eggs and bring eggs and butter to room temperature. 2. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans. Make: 1. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 2. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, into the mixer, continue to mix well after each addition. Mix in the coconut extract. 3. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 4. Gradually add the flour to the butter mixture alternating with the 1 1/4 cups coconut milk, making sure to begin and end with the flour mixture. 5. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy, then add cream of tartar and mix until soft peaks form. 6. Gently fold egg white into batter until just combined. 7. Pour the batter evenly into each pan, and place them in the oven. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. 8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack, and continue to cool completely before frosting. For the Coconut Cream Frosting: 1. Using an electric mixer beat butter until smooth, add 1/4 of the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. 2. Add remaining powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of coconut milk by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by 1 tablespoon of coconut milk. 3. Mix in coconut extract (if using). Frost cake and sprinkle on shredded coconut, gently pressing it on to help it stick if necessary.
The coconut extract is totally optional depending on taste. We like both the subtle coconut flavor from just the coconut milk and the stronger coconut flavor from the extract.