Julie’s Fudgy Chocolate Coconut Cake

Julie and I shared our passion for food, all food, but in particular desserts. I first met her during my PR agency days with her husband, Rich Cline, who had taken me under his wing as a new arrival onto the agency scene. He and his counterpart, Slibby (Stacy Libby) were amongst the first few people I had met once I started at Miller Shandwick Technologies upon leaving Sybase. I had often heard stories about Julie from both Cline and Slibby. Both of them insisted that we’d have a lot in common from our cooking to our Italian heritage and passion for speaking the language. They were right.

I left Miller Shandwick for my America’s Cup days for some years. I stayed connected with Julie and the gang over the years via a dinner party or two.

Later, when a small group from Miller Shandwick opened up Voce Communications, I rejoined the clan again. During this decade, Julie and I would regularly meet at Voce’s unconventional yet truly epic company events.

Julie was a brilliant lawyer, fluent in Italian, and passionate about food. I confided in her one night during a dinner party that I was thinking about writing a cookbook. She LOVED the idea and wanted to both share her new favorite recipe and launch my career as an author by hosting my first book signing. And she did exactly that.

Julie shared her recipe for what we now call Peanut Butter Cookie Bombs, and she hosted the most incredible first ‘book signing’ party one could imagine.

Via the party, Slibby, who was thick into the Silicon Valley Mom’s Blogging Community, helped to bring me into the world of food bloggers, and she hand picked the guest list which was a mixture of friends, family, and blogging influencers. To this day, thanks to both Julie and Slibby, I still covet the relationships sparked on that night.

Years passed and as families with children living 30+ minutes away do, we drifted into our mutually busy lives. When I was ill, we briefly reconnected; she sent me a beautiful card and a book that I still treasure to this day. When I recovered we spoke of getting together, but it was challenging to find a time.

So time passed, then Julie was ill. I reached out to her as well and we agreed we would get together, in fact, we talked about getting together again in Jan 2020, and we were getting close to seeing each other; then we went into Pandemic lockdown. So we postponed. And as I write this note, I can tell you that I never got the chance to see her in person again.

I am happy for all of the smiles and recipes we shared and sad to know that we will not be creating more, however I do know that she will always be close by in my recipe thoughts. [Sidebar: I used to tease Cline that they must love me to have named one of their three beautiful daughters after me! I am sure that is not the case, but how could I resist making the claim amongst all of our mutual friends!]

My tribute to Julie is this recipe I worked on while reflecting on our memories together. Please forgive the insider references: dueling Christmas trees, Hornblower yachts, children in the yard, Payard hot cocoa mix, food adventures, and Italian. The funny thing is that I don’t know if she was a fan of coconut, but I do know how much she loved chocolate, and I believe she would have swooned over this gooey treat. This recipe is for you, Julie! May you and yours always know the special place you have in my heart. Always.

Julie’s Fudgy Chocolate Coconut Cake

Cake Ingredients

7 TBS unsalted butter

4 eggs, room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 tsps baking powder

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

2 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

Topping Ingredients

3.5 TBS unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

2/3 cup whipping cream

1 cup dry shredded coconut

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9x 13 baking tray with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and remove from heat to cool. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar. Then add the cooled butter. It is important that the butter not be too hot or it will cook the egg and sugar batter.

Add in the baking powder, vanilla, salt, and stir to combine. Then add in the cocoa, mix to combine, and finally the flour. Mixing well by hand. Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes.

Start the topping while the cake is in the oven. In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add in the sugar, syrup, and cream. Allow mixture to simmer for a few minutes. Stir in the shredded coconut and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Remove the mixture from the heat. When the timer is up, carefully remove the cake from the oven and pour the topping over it. Return to the oven and bake it for another 10 minutes or until the topping is a light golden brown.

Allow the cake to cool before cutting into small pieces. This recipe is rich so smaller pieces are advised. It also stores nicely in the refrigerator, precut for easy access to pop it into your mouth or serve with your afternoon coffee or tea. I imagine that Julie would have had it with a coffee made by her Lavazza.

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