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1 sponge cake of your choice


1 fresh coconut or 2 2/3 c. shredded coconut, bagged
1 1/4 c. boiling water, if using bagged coconut
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. dark rum
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. milk
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. vanilla
16 candied cherries

If using fresh coconut, pierce it twice at the thinnest part of shell. Pour off milk and reserve. Cut coconut in half and scoop out flesh. Cover and reserve. In a small saucepan, boil 3 tablespoons coconut milk with 1/4 cup sugar until sugar has completely dissolved. Add rum and let cool. (If using bagged shredded coconut soak it in 1 1/3 cups boiling water and let sit overnight. Strain and reserve liquid. Use reserved liquid in place of fresh coconut milk.)

Blend cornstarch, 4 tablespoons coconut liquid/milk, and egg yolks in a medium bowl. Heat remaining liquid/milk and 6 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan until almost boiling. Stir hot milk into cornstarch mixture. Return to saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool slightly. Beat egg white until stiff. Carefully fold in remaining sugar and fold this into cornstarch mixture. Cool.

Cut cake into 3 horizontal layers. Spread filling thickly over bottom layer, place 2nd cake layer over and sprinkle with half coconut milk mixture then spread with filling. Repeat this with last cake layer. Spread top and sides with remaining mixture. Cover cake with freshly grated or bagged coconut. Garnish top edge with candied cherries.

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