My On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Love Affair with Coconut

Coconut banana macadamia nut -- a taste of Hawaii in your own home.

Coconut banana macadamia nut — a taste of Hawaii in your own home.


As a teen, I fell for coconut.


I’d bake sticky coconut macaroons, shower vanilla frosted cakes liberally with the snowy shards, and stir in as much shredded coconut as humanly possible into the batter for my favorite Morning Glory muffins.

But in my 20s, all of that stopped. I turned my back on coconut.

Maybe it was my young adult self trying to assert a more grown-up palate. Or the reaction to way too many Mound’s bars or supermarket German chocolate cakes early on, both of which had the nasty habit of rendering coconut nearly sickly sweet.

In any event, coconut and I parted ways. For a long, long time. I went out of my way to avoid the stuff, picking around the lone coconut bonbon in the See’s candy box or turning up my nose at any dessert that dared include it.

But a few years ago, ever so slowly, that flame for coconut was rekindled.

Koloa Coconut Rum mini bottles -- a souvenir from my recent trip to Kauai.

Koloa Coconut Rum mini bottles — a souvenir from my recent trip to Kauai.

Maybe it started when I succumbed to a sublime wedge of coconut cake at the cute-as-a-button Hominy Grill in Charleston. Because if you’re in Charleston, how can you not eat coconut cake?

Or all my recent trips to Hawaii, where coconut something or another can be found on every menu around.

Yes, my passion for coconut has returned. And it’s better this time around.

I’m older and wiser. Plus, the coconut I’m  spending time with now isn’t doused in sugar and excess. It’s the real-deal that lets its true personality shine through.

It’s the way every love affair should be.

A coconut lover's delight.

A coconut lover’s delight.

Coconut Macadamia Banana Bread

(Makes 1 loaf)

This riff on standard banana bread came about after my recent visit to Koloa Rum on Kauai, where I tasted its best-selling Coconut Rum. Its pure, nutty, tropical taste put me into baking mode. If you can’t find Coconut Rum, you can substitute regular rum. This island-influenced banana bread was inspired by my favorite Flo Braker banana bread recipe. For more indulgence, you can glaze the baked cake with more Coconut Rum mixed with a little honey and warm water; or stirred into confectioner’s sugar and thinned with a little milk or cream. Whether you choose to do that or enjoy it as is, you’ll end up with a tender, moist loaf worthy of any coconut courtship.

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup roasted macadamia nuts, chopped

1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons Koloa Coconut Rum

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup unsweetened grated coconut (for the top of the cake)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack positioned in the lower one-third of the oven.

Grease and flour a 10-inch-by-5-inch (1.5-pound) loaf pan.

In a large bowl, sift flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in macadamia nuts.

In a medium bowl,, stir together mashed bananas, eggs, yogurt, oil, vanilla and rum. Add this wet mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir just until combined. Add shredded coconut and stir gently.

Pour batter into the baking pan. Smooth the top. Sprinkle the grated coconut evenly over the top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Let cool completely before slicing and enjoying.

— Carolyn Jung


Another Coconut Treat: Buttermilk Coconut Blondies

The Koloa Rum Co. store.

Plus: My Visit to Koloa Rum

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  • A beautiful cake. I love those exotic flavors. Simply heavenly.



  • I have a mix love affair with coconut. I only like the flavor, so if it’s like pudding such as Hawaiian haupia. But I don’t like the texture of coconut flakes, that’s really popular for cupcakes or cakes as a decorative element. This banana bread with coconut rum looks like a nice middle ground! πŸ™‚

  • I’ve never gotten over my childhood passion for coconut! But sweets were a rare thing back in the day (for me), so I never had a chance to OD. This looks wonderful — just the sort of thing I could OD on! Really nice — thanks.

  • I never liked coconut until recently. Now I’m craving coconut ice cream, cakes, etc. during the spring and summer. πŸ™‚

  • Hey, coconut is good at any age, at any time. In India it’s there in everything so we all eat it!

  • I love the sound and the look of this cake…so tropical…I could use a big slice of this cake now…yum!
    Hope you are enjoying you week Carolyn πŸ˜€

  • i suspect that my love affair with coconut is forever on, at least i hope it is. this is a magnificent loaf of bread!

  • I LOVE macadamia nuts and the flavor of coconut, so I’m all over this bread. Glad you rediscovered a love for coconut! πŸ™‚

  • Pingback: Bestia’s Butter-Topped Banana Bread | Food Gal

  • After trying the minuscule sample of banana bread at Koloa Rum in Kauai, I decided that the sample was too small for me to determine whether I liked it or not but intrigued enough to make this recipe. Since I didn’t have Koloa Coconut Rum on hand, I subbed regular rum and 1/4 tsp coconut extract as I was afraid of adding too much. When I tasted the bread, the coconut flavor did not come through, but I will substitute coconut oil for the vegetable oil next time. For my 9×5 bread pan, bake time was 1 1/2 hours. In the end, everyone LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this bread and told me I was a genius. I know I will be making it again. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Monica: So glad it was a hit! If you want even more coconut flavor, you could also mix up a glaze of coconut milk and powdered sugar to drizzle over the top.

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