This Coconut Gelato Cake has some serious coconut vibes! It’s a delicious stack of rum-soaked cake, fresh mango puree and lush tropical gelato…all topped off with clouds of whipped cream and giant coconut flakes.

It takes a few steps to craft this cake, but don’t let that discourage you! It’s fairly simple and of course, you can always ‘cheat’ with store-bought ice cream or cake.


Give yourself enough time. Start the night before or very early the day that you plan on serving it. Each layer needs time to freeze.

Freeze your cake.  After soaking the cake in the rum syrup, freeze it for 2 hours. This will provide a firm base that won’t sink under the weight of the layers. Freeze again for a minimum of 30 minutes after the mango puree layer.

Mold the gelato  Freeze your gelato in the same size cake pan that the cake was made in. This will give you a beautiful perfectly formed layer. If you are making Tropical Coconut Gelato scoop it out of the ice cream machine directly into the cake pan. For store-bought ice cream, soften it slightly then press it into the cake pan and freeze.

Add toppings right before serving. Wait until the last minute to put on the whipped cream and coconut flakes. You can freeze whipped cream, but the texture is a thousand times better fresh.

Serve it slightly softened. Let the cake sit for 5-10 at room temperature before cutting. Run a sharp knife under hot water when slicing to create clean cuts.



This impressive ice cream cake is a multi layered deep dive into tropical flavor.  The fresh mango works as a counterpoint to the rich gelato while the rum keeps the overall sweetness in check.    

Investing the extra time to freeze each layer individually will keep 






  • 250g   sugar
  • 250g   water
  •   20g   dark rum


  • 284g     mango (fresh or frozen)
  •   89g     corn syrup
  •    21g     water
  • 48g   tapioca starch*


  • whipped cream
  • large flake coconut (shards) 




rum syrup

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan.   Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves then.  Let it continue to cook without stirring, until the syrup reaches a boil. 

Remove from heat, stir in rum and allow to cool before using. 

yellow cake 

Make the SIMPLE YELLOW CAKE and allow it to cool.  Brush one of the layers with a 1/4 cup of rum syrup (reserve the other layers for another use) Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 1-2 hours until firm.  Clean the baking pan (make sure it’s dry) and line the bottom with parchment paper.   


If you are making your own TROPICAL COCONUT GELATO, follow the recipe.  Scoop it out of the ice cream machine directly into the prepared cake pan* (there will be more than you need, save the extra for another use) Smooth the top and freeze for 2-4 hours until firm all the way through.  

For store bought ice cream you will need about 2 pints. Let it soften at room temperature until it’s just slightly squishy.  Working quickly, spread the ice cream into the prepared cake pan.  Smooth the top and freeze for 2-4 hours until firm all the way through.  

mango puree

Put the mango, corn syrup, water and 4g of the tapioca starch in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat until there are small bubbles and simmer until thick.  If the mango is very watery add additional tapioca to increase thickness.  When it reaches the consistency of a thick puree take off the heat and cool.  Refrigerate if not using immediately. 


Before you start, clear a flat space in the freezer for the cake.
Place the frozen cake layer on a plate or a parchment-lined cutting board. * Working from middle spread a 1 – 1 1/2 cups of cold mango puree. Smooth the top of the mango puree. Freeze for 30-45 minutes until it is set.
For the next layer, unmold the frozen gelato. If using a metal cake pan, wrap the frozen in a damp (using warm not hot water) dishcloth to help loosen the gelato. Be patient, too much heat applied to the pan will cause the gelato to melt and loose it’s shape. If you’re feeling confident, unmold it directly onto the cake layer. For the rest of us, I suggest unmolding it onto a flat plate and carefully lifting it with a large spatula onto the cake layer.
If you find the mango puree has frozen into an uneven lumpy top, add a little more puree to even out the top before topping with the gelato.
Cover with plastic wrap and freeze the cake for a minimum of 45 minutes until all the layers have set. Just before serving decorate with whipped cream and big flakes of coconut.



  • A silicon cake pan will make it easier to unmold. 
  • Any flat surface will do.  I find a cutting board is the easiest way to transfer the cake back and forth from the freezer.

about the photos

  • This is a 6″ cake. The recipe was enough to make 2 cakes
  • The puree was made from organic frozen mango chunks
  • I used large coconut chips are from a chef’s supply store

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