One of my favorite desserts to make for Damir & his family is cupavci (pronounced “chew-pav-see”), which looks difficult but is actually incredibly easy, if not a little work intensive. Compared to some of my other baking challenges of years past, however, this one is literally “a piece of cake”! [Ba-dum ching!]
Cupavci literally translates in English to “hairy” because of the coconut, but don’t let that interesting translation turn you off. This cake is filled with jam, dipped in chocolate sauce and topped with coconut for a melt in your mouth delicacy that pairs well with coffee, as do most Bosnian desserts. For Damir’s birthday this year, I decided to surprise him, and woke up at 5:45am after he left for work to get the cake started, giving me plenty of time for baking, cooling, and assembly.
Traditional Bosnian Coconut Cake (Cupavci)
- Yellow cake mix, prepared as instructed*
- 1/2 Jar Strawberry or Raspberry Jam
- 6-7oz milk chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2/3 cup whole milk (you can use any milk, but whole will give you the best texture)
- 3-4 cups finely shredded organic coconut. (the more finely shredded, the better)
*Make sure to check the instructions for any additional items, likely water, 1/2 cup oil, and 3 eggs.
Baking the cake
- I am going to start with my super handy tip on how to make any box cake super light and fluffy! Separate the whites from the yolks, adding the yolks to your cake mix in a large mixing bowl, and placing the whites in a smaller mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they are frothy and start to form firm peaks, roughly 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
- Add the remaining cake ingredients to the yellow cake mix and mix thoroughly until there are no powdery pockets and the batter is consistent.
- Gently fold the whites into the batter, only stirring enough to mix into batter completely.
Line your 13in x 9in baking dish with parchment paper (don’t skip, this is super helpful later!). Pour batter into baking dish, and bake according to instructions on cake mix.
- Once baked, immediately cake remove from pan by grabbing both ends of parchment paper and place cake on a cooling rack to help cool it quickly.
Assembling the cake
- Slice the cake into a top and bottom half by slicing horizontally through the middle. It often helps to first cut the cake into two halves first, then doing the horizontal slice, which makes the top half easier to manage without breaking it.
- Remove the top half of the cake and set aside for now. Spread strawberry or raspberry jam on the bottom half of the cake. I like using the Smuckers squeezables, since it allows me to get a good amount of jam onto the cake, and requires less spreading, and ultimately less crumbing into the jam.
- Place the top half of the cake back onto the now jam covered bottom half. Cut entire cake into 2inch squares.
Making chocolate sauce & dipping cake
- Melt butter in the microwave, then pour over the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds, then add milk and stir together. Microwave for another 20 seconds and whip with a whisk until you have an even consistency.
- Dip each 2inch square of cake in the chocolate sauce and completely cover, then dip into the coconut and again make sure the cake is completely covered. Set on wax paper to allow chocolate to cool and harden.
- This dip should cover a majority of the cake squares, and the dipped cakes should be ready to eat in roughly 10 minutes, or immediately if you don’t mind getting chocolate on your fingers.