Question: Recently I was at a convention at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. We were served a delicious chocolate cake layered with chocolate frosting and coconut. I believe it was called "Mound's Cake." Would you please obtain the recipe for me?

- Terri Spencer, Woodbury, Minn.

Answer: Escape to a little piece of the tropics in Nashville, where flowering plants and banana and ficus trees stretch toward a skylight covering a 2 1/2-acre indoor area of the Opryland Hotel. Within this lush setting known as the Cascades are rocky cliffs, a lake, mountains, painted grottoes and a rush of water cascading down a 40-foot waterfall.

Twice each evening guests enjoy the "Dancing Waters," an intricate fountain show accented by laser beams and colored by incandescent lights, synchronized to accompany performances by pianist Vince Car-dell.

The Opryland Hotel is part of the Opryland USA entertainment complex. Other elements include the Grand Ole Opry, Opryland Theme Park and the General Jackson Showboat.

Diners, entering the Cascades Restaurant through a wrought-iron canopy between rocky cliffs, discover islands separated by rushing streams and may choose to sit in a small gazebo, at a table on an outlying island or in a grotto. Mound's Cake, most often served at the hotel's Sunday brunch, is rich and moist with dark chocolate and coconut.

America a la Carte welcomes recipe requests. Send the complete address of the restaurant along with your name, address and phone number to: America a la Carte, P.O. Box 5994, Austin, TX 78763-5994; or fax: (512) 453-2145.

Recipe

MOUND'S CAKE

Simple syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Ganache

1 1/2 cups cream

19 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Coconut mix

2 1/2 cups Baker's coconut

1/2 cup Coco Lopez (cream of coconut)

1/4 cup light Karo syrup

Chocolate cake

1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature

1 scant cup shortening

5 cups cake flour

2 1/2 cups sugar

8 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup cocoa

2 1/4 cups milk

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare Simple Syrup: Combine sugar and water in small saucepan over low to medium heat. Stir continuously as water heats and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare the Ganache: In a saucepan bring cream to boil. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate to hot cream and stir to melt chocolate and blend cream with chocolate.

Prepare the Coconut Mix: In mixing bowl combine coconut, Coco Lopez and Karo. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Prepare cake: In small bowl of mixer combine butter and shortening. Beat until blended, light and fluffy. Set aside. In large bowl of mixer combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and cocoa. Add butter and shortening mixture and beat on low to blend. In bowl combine milk and eggs. Add 1/3 milk mixture to flour, beating on low to blend. Scrape sides of bowl. Add another 1/3 milk mixture to flour mixture and beat to blend. Scrape side of bowl. Add remaining milk mixture and beat to blend.

Divide batter equally among three 9-inch springform pans. Bake on top rack of oven 20 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely. Place first cake layer on bottom of cake platter. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup simple syrup and spread with Ganache. Top with second cake layer and spread with Ganache. Top with remaining cake layer and mask whole cake with Ganache. Pipe a border of Ganache around top of cake and mound coconut mixture on top of cake. Makes one three-layer cake, serving 12 to 16 people.