Sally Cook has made the cake so long, she doesn’t remember where the recipe came from.
“I have no clue,” she says.
The people who taste it don’t really care. They just ask for seconds.
Her pina colada cake, Cook says, has been made for family, friends, business gatherings and even when she did some catering. In other words, it’s a tested winner.
“It’s a really good cake,” says the 66-year-old Cook, “and it’s really pretty, especially beautiful for the holidays.”
And, she says, as long as she’s made it, perhaps 35 years or more, people still request it.
“My husband and [grown, out-of-town] son will ask for it periodically,” Cook says.
The Middle Valley resident also has made it when a family has lost a loved one, shared it in several Crye-Leike cookbooks when she worked in real estate and is requested to make it when friends get together for a covered-dish meal.
“It’s so easy to make,” Cook says. “I keep the stuff on hand.”
Indeed, there are only five ingredients. It starts with a white box cake mix, prepared as the box specifies.
“You could use another [type of] cake,” Cook says. “I just think the white is prettier with the coconut when you cut into it.”
The next two ingredients, cans of sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut, are poured over the top of the warm cake, which has had holes poked into it. The cake is then refrigerated before Cool Whip is spread over the top and topped by coconut.
Cook says the cake is better if it can be made the day before it is served.
“The flavors blend more,” she says. “It’s such a moist cake, and the Cool Whip takes on a better texture, more like icing.”
One family who received a pina colada cake noted its freshness.
“They said they hadn’t had a homemade cake in years,” she says. “I didn’t have the heart to tell them the truth.”
Cook says her sister, Nancy Armstrong of St. Augustine, Fla., drains a bottle of maraschino cherries and adds the cherries on the top of the coconut.
As an added element, the coconut on top of the cake could be toasted, she says.
Cook says she even has made the recipe in the form of cupcakes when she did a bit of catering. Though a little more trouble, she says, they’re “beautiful.”
Cook says she doesn’t go very long between making a pina colada cake.
“I’ll be making it at Christmas time,” she says. “It makes a beautiful display with a buffet [spread].”
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...