I had my first Lamington when I moved to Australia nearly 10 years ago. I eyed the coconut dusted confection dubiously, imagining it to be the Aussie version of a cellophane-wrapped Little Debbie dessert. Thankfully, it was delicious and I've been a fan ever since.
Until this week, however, I'd never actually made them.
Numerous tastings over the years had given me a general idea of how to make them, but as I stood in the baking aisle at the grocery store in our village debating between desiccated coconut and sweetened coconut for the topping, I decided I needed expert advice.
Thankfully, there were a couple of elderly Australian ladies having a good natter a few feet away from me, and when I tentatively interrupted their conversation for clarification on which type of coconut to use, they beamed and gave me their best tips for the perfect Lamington dessert.
What Are Lamingtons?
Known as Lamingtons in Australia, these cakes are, at their simplest, squares of butter cake coated in a thin, dark chocolate icing and rolled in desiccated coconut. Some layer the cake with strawberry jam, while others make it even more decadent with an additional layer of sweetened real cream.
I decided that my first attempt would be mini Lamingtons given a heretical Canadian flair with a drizzle of maple extract in the batter and a sweet layer of raspberry jam.
I nervously handed them to my Australian husband to get his no-holds-barred opinion and, after one bite his eyes widened in surprise and he told me, “Honestly, babe, they're the best Lamingtons I've ever had.”
My relief and delight knew no bounds.
How to Make Mini Lamingtons
As mentioned earlier, Lamingtons start with butter cake. You can make it from scratch if you like, but I made mine with a box mix and, with the addition of the maple extract, it was scrumptious.
In our house we love both strawberry jam and raspberry jam fillings. I've yet to taste a Lamington with a cream filling, but if that suits your fancy, by all means, slather it on.
The word icing is a bit of a misnomer, for there is no whipping or spreading involved with this icing. To me it's more like a chocolate sauce, just runny enough to form a thin layer around the cake, but thick enough to stay put.
My grocery store advisers assured me that desiccated coconut is the only way to go with Lamingtons, and I heartily agree with their advice. Sweetened coconut would make this dessert far too sickly sweet.
The best tip the elderly ladies gave me was to freeze the cake after it's baked, spread with jam, and cut into pieces but before it's dipped into the chocolate icing and coconut. This tip was brilliant! Not only did it keep the cake beautifully moist far longer, it made the dipping in chocolate so much easier.
The cake didn't fall apart and there were no crumbs clogging up the icing. Those ladies definitely know what they're talking about.
I really love Lamingtons with a cup of black tea sweetened with a drizzle of maple syrup and cooled with a splash of milk. It's an especially lovely experience with one of our coconut teas.
Try our Coconut A La Crème black tea, blended with coconut pieces, calendula flowers, and vanilla and coconut essences or our Coconut Macaron dessert tea made with black, honeybush, and rooibos teas with coconut pieces and almond essence.
Lamingtons are also lovely served with our Uplifting Coconut Chai, a spicy blend with coconut pieces, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, lemongrass, clove, black pepper, and cocoa nibs.
Mini Lamington Desserts for Tea Time
- 1 box butter cake
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- 1 jar raspberry jam
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup Dutch cocoa, sifted
- 1 tablespoon salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup just boiled water
- 2 cups desiccated coconut
Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix the butter cake according to box directions and stir in 1 tsp maple extract. Pour into greased 9" by 9" square pan and bake according to box directions.
When baked, remove cake from oven and cool completely. Carefully remove cake from pan and, using a long bread knife, cut the cake in half horizontally and separate.
Spread bottom half with a thin layer of raspberry jam, set remaining cake layer evenly on top, then cut into 1" squares. Place entire cake into freezer for one hour.
When cake is nearly frozen, whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa, salted butter, and just boiled water in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.
Pour desiccated coconut into a shallow, flat dish and set aside.
Remove frozen cake from fridge and set out a serving tray.
Using two forks, coat each piece of cake in chocolate icing, letting excess drip off, then coat in desiccated coconut and set on tray. Repeat until all pieces of cake are coated. Let stand for 1-2 hours until icing is set, then serve.