For the whoopie pies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Drain the cherry syrup into a liquid measuring cup (there should be about 3/4 cup) and cut the cherries in half. Set aside.
In a larger bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the food coloring, vanilla and egg and beat until creamy. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the cherry syrup.
Drop about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie on the baking trays, spaced about 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies spring back like a cupcake when pressed, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking trays, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
For the coconut cream: Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water and allow to bloom. Set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the cream. Meanwhile, using a stand or hand mixer, beat the sugar and egg yolks until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.
Pour the hot cream slowly into the egg and sugar mixture, mixing constantly. Transfer to the saucepan and continue cooking on low heat, mixing constantly, until it thickens, about 15 minutes; do not allow to boil. Remove from the heat, add the gelatin and mix until completely melted. Set aside in the refrigerator until thick, about 4 hours.
Beat the thickened mixture until creamy with the toasted coconut and extract.
To assemble: Spread the flat side of each cookie with 1 teaspoon of coconut cream. Top half of the cookies with about 4 cherry halves. Sandwich the cherry-topped cookies with the remaining cookies, and press slightly to push the filling to the edges. Roll the edges in the toasted coconut. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Recipe courtesy of Chuck Hughes