Liliana’s Bienmesabe, Venezuela’s Favorite Coconut Cake

bienmesabe Venezuela cake

“Bienmesabe is one of the most famosos desserts in my country, Venezuela,” says Liliana Hernández, one of our favorite homecooks. Similar to tres leches, this delicate layer cake is drenched in a creamy syrup, in this case coconut. It’s then topped with meringue and sprinkled with cinnamon.

The original recipe for bienmesabe—which means: it tastes good to me— didn’t have the top layer of meringue. That addition came later, in a savvy commercial play by Venezuela’s bakeries to increase this bizcocho’s beauty factor—and sales, says Liliana. Some people add a touch of liquor like muscatel wine, cognac or sherry, she adds.

However you make yours, “when you serve this, get ready for a big reaction from friends and family, like you have never seen before,” says Liliana, who was born in Caracas. ”This creamy coconut-cake-meringue dessert is a revelation. It is so moist, so rich, yet so light, and so delicious—it should be called “maravilloso-me-sabe.”

Bienmesabe is lush and light, with layers of cake, coconut filling, and a meringue topping.

Liliana remembers first making this iconic Venezuelan cake more than 25 years ago with her cousin Deyanira, who also loves to bake. “It came out so well that our coworkers started putting in orders with us to make it for them! It was a big success, but we couldn’t keep it up because in those days we went to university at night and worked by day. There just wasn’t time for making bienmesabe.”

You can see Liliana making this step by step on her YouTube homecooking and baking show, “Mi Show de Cocina—with her cousin, who joined her online via Madrid, where she now lives. ”We Venezuelans make bienmesabe anytime of year. That said, it’s a very special dessert because it takes time to make it, and that is why I recommend waiting for a Saturday or Sunday when you have time. It may not be the easiest bizcocho, but I promise you it is the most delicious.”

You will see why when you taste it, says Liliana. ”One bite and you’ll be a bienmesabe fanatic, like all of us in Venezuela.“

Ready for a Master Class? How to Make Venezuelan Bienmesabe Cake

Liliana’s Bienmesabe, Venezuela’s Favorite Coconut Cake

Recipe by Liliana Hernández Cuisine: Venezuelan

8 to 10

Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the 2 Cake Halves
  • 14 14 eggs, room temperature

  • 1 1 vanilla bean

  • 2 1/4 cups 2 1/4 sugar

  • 3 cups 3 cake flour

  • 10 Tbsp 10 butter, unsalted, melted

  • For the Coconut Cream
  • 3 1/2 cups 3 1/2 coconut milk

  • 18 18 egg yolks, room temperature

  • 2 cups 2 hot water

  • 1 tsp 1 salt

  • For the Syrup

  • 3 cups 3 sugar

  • 1 cup 1 water

  • For the Meringue
  • 7 7 egg whites, room temperature

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 sugar

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 salt

  • Putting It All Together: Build Your Bienmesabe!
  • ½ to 1 cup ½ to 1 coconut water or coconut milk, depending on the size of your serving dish

  • 1 cup 1 shredded coconut, sweetened

  • 1 Tbsp 1 cinnamon, for sprinkling over the finished cake


  • Make the 2 Cake Halves
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Fill a large pot with water and place on the stovetop, on medium heat. Bring to a simmer. You will use this laster as your water bath or baño Maria.
  • Butter and flour two baking pans. (Liliana uses two square pans 10 by 10 inches and 1.5 inch deep.)
  • Melt the butter and set aside in a bowl.
  • Sift the flour and set aside.
  • Place the eggs, corn syrup, and scraped seeds from the vanilla bean in a larg bowl. Using an electric mixer set to medium high, beat for about 1 minute.
  • Slowly add the sugar.
  • Once the sugar is fully blended, place the bowl on top of your water bath, which should be simmering at a low boil on the stovetop.
  • Using a handheld whisk, gently beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla mixture. When the water bath warms your mixture (to about 113F—use a baking thermometer if you have one, says Lilian), switch to using an electric hand mixer.
  • Beat with the mixer set to high, until the egg, sugar and vanilla mixture firms up and forms stiff peaks.
  • Remove from the water bath. Lower the speed so that the mix doesn’t deflate and keep beating until it cools slightly and the consistency is firm enough that the mix holds its shape.
  • Scoop out 1/2 cup and add to the bowl with the melted butter.
  • Using a spatula, gently fold the sifted flour into the sugar, egg and vanilla mixture.
  • Gently fold the set-aside butter and egg mixture bowl into the mixture.
  • You’re ready to bake. Pour ½ of the batter into each of the 2 buttered and floured pans.
  • Place both pans into the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  • When done, take the cakes out of the oven and let cool.
  • Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Make the Coconut Cream
  • Open the cans of coconut milk and pour into a clean large bowl or pot.
  • Add the egg yolks and salt.
  • Mix well and set the coconut cream mixture aside.
  • Make the Syrup
  • Cook for 15 minutes, without stirring.
  • Mix the water and sugar in a pot.
  • Set the pot on top of the stovetop water bath, now set to high heat.
  • Turn off the heat. Set the syrup aside.
  • Reserve 1 cup of the syrup in a separate small bowl. To this bowl, add 1 cup of the coconut cream mix. Set aside for later use.
  • Mix the Cream and Syrup
  • Return the syrup pot to the stovetop water bath, set to low.
  • Add the small bowl with the reserved 2 cups of coconut cream and syrup. (This helps temper the syrup.).
  • Add the rest of the coconut cream.
  • Gently stir the mixture and let it simmer. When it almost starts to boil and you see small bubbles forming at the edges, it is ready.
  • Remove from the water bath.
  • Pour the mixture through a strainer into a large clean bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, until it thickens to the consistency of heavy cream.
  • Make the Meringue
  • In a clean bowl, add the egg whites, sugar and salt.
  • Place the bowl on your stovetop water bath, set to low heat.
  • Hand whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved completely. You will know it’s ready when you can pick up a tiny pinch of the liquid with your fingers and it is semi-firm, like an egg yolk. The mixture will feel soft and have no discernible grains of sugar.
  • Take the bowl off the water bath and place on the counter.
  • With your electric mixer set to high, beat until it forms stiff meringue peaks.
  • Putting It All Together: Build Your Bienmesabe!
  • Measure out a cup of coconut water or coconut milk and a cup of the shredded coconut.
  • Place the first layer of your cake in a glass baking pan with edges at least 3 inches high, so the cream and meringue don’t spill or slide. ( If you need to cut the cake layers to fit them into your pan, no problem, says Liliana. No one will be able to tell under the creamy layers of coconut cream and meringue.)
  • Drizzle about ½ of a cup of the coconut water or milk over the first layer, so that it is moist but not drenched.
  • Sprinkle half a cup of the shredded coconut over the first layer.
  • Spread half the coconut and egg yolk cream over the first layer, so that it covers all of it.
  • Add the second layer of cake and repeat the steps.
  • Drizzle coconut water of milk over the second layer.
  • Sprinkle the rest of the shredded coconut over the second layer.
  • Spread the rest of the coconut cream over the second layer.
  • With a spatula, spread the meringue evenly over the full cake. (You can make pretty meringue flowers or waves, if you wish.)
  • Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the meringue.
  • It’s ready. Put your beautiful bienmesabe, uncovered, in the refrigerator to chill. Serve it VERY cold, says Liliana. And get ready to impress your guests with this dessert maravilloso.


  • A water bath of baño de Maria is a technique used to bake eggs. The cook gently slow-cooks the egg mixture over a second, larger pan filled with water simmering at a low heat. This helps the egg mixture turn ito a rich custard—without burning or drying.
  • When you start, the eggs and butter should be room temperature. Take them out about an hour before using them.
  • Liliana learned to make this cake using real coconuts. She was taught to crack the hard shell, scrape out the coco meat inside, cook it, strain it and use the resulting coconut milk to make this cake. To simplify things, this recipe uses canned coconut milk—but Liliana wants you to know that—if you have the time—this famous Venezuelan cake tastes even better if you make coconut milk from scratch.
Start by baking two equal cake halves. Wrap and chill while you make the coconut cream and syrup.
Whisk the egg mixture over a pan hot water or water bat, called a baño de Maria.
Stir the coconut milk and egg mixture while it gently simmers for 15 minutes.
Pour the creamy coconut milk and egg mixture through a strainer.
Cover with plastic and place in your fridge for 2 to 3 hours to chill.
Liliana gets ready to make the meringue with egg whites, sugar and salt.
Cinnnamon and swirls of meringue top Liliana’s bienmesabe masterpiece.
Serve from one platter or whip up adorable minis—both have the same 2 layers of cake, 2 layers of cream, and one final meringue topping. Your family and friends will be awed, Liliana promises.

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Suggestions and questions from our readers

  1. Wonderful and delicious recipe! Flavors that transports you to your land! Thanks Lily, amazing!

    1. Thanks Rosana, you are right! Wherever I make Bienmesabe, I just remember my beautiful city Caracas. 🤩🥰

    1. Gracias Nayda! Definitivamente todas estas recetas están buenísimas! 🤩👩🏻‍🍳👍

    1. Gracias Amarilis! Tienes toda la razón, el Bienmesabe no tiene comparación!🤩😋👩🏻‍🍳👍

    1. Así es, Deya! Tú más que nadie lo sabe, eres mi “partner” en esta dulce experiencia! Muchas gracias por siempre estar!🙏🏻🤗👩🏻‍🍳🤩👍

    1. Hello Tiby! Thank you so much! This recipe is a sweet dream for all coconut lovers like me, and it has to be done to realize is not so complicated to make it, it is just to dedicate time that it deserves! 😋🤩👩🏻‍🍳👍

  2. Delicioso y fácil de hacer, y dan ganas de hacerlo por la espectacular presentación que le pones Lila. Que rico tener estas delicias latinas de la mejor chef 😉

  3. This is an outrageous delicious dessert, once you learn to make it becomes part of your favorite repertoire. Gracias Liliana por traer un trocito de Venezuela al alcance de todos !!!