How to Make It
Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; set aside.
Beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Combine buttermilk and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut and pecans. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9" round cakepans.
Bake at 350° for 19 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove cake layers to wire racks, and cool completely.
Spread Cream Cheese Filling between layers. Spread Ganache on top and sides of cake, reserving 1/2 cup ganache. Mound Meringues on top of cake. Drizzle meringues with reserved ganache. To serve cake, remove meringues with small tongs, and serve a few meringues as a garnish with each serving.
8" Cake Variation: For 8" cake layers, bake layers 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Storage Tip: Refrigerate leftover cake without meringues. Store meringues in an airtight container at room temperature.
Make-Ahead Elements: Bake cake layers ahead, and freeze up to 1 month. Bake meringues a day ahead, and store in tins. Prepare Cream Cheese Filling a day ahead, and store in refrigerator. Thaw cake layers at room temperature before assembling cake.
Christmas with Southern Living 2004