Tag Archives: coconut

coconut cake… because it’s March and cold and I needed to make a cake or I would cry

coconut cake slice

The downside of living in Vermont is the never ending winter. The older I get the less tolerant I am of winters grip on what should be Spring. I packed away my boots and huge parka the first week of March, because I’m an idiot and because I delude myself in thinking that if I pack my parka away it will no longer be cold enough for a parka and so I go through around a month of freezing my ass off whenever I leave my house. On the solstice this year it was 17 with a wind chill of 0. I walked the dogs in my Spring raincoat… I wanted to die. I came home and thought about going to bed and never getting out but then I thought that the solution to such bullshit was to bake a cake… a white light summery breezy airy sunny springy kinda cake as a way of pretty much telling winter to shove off. It didn’t work, it’s still in the 20’s but at least every mouthful of light moist cake, creamy frosting and toasty crunchy coconut made me feel better… kinda.

adapted from Americas Test Kitchen

Coconut Cake:

  • 1 large whole egg plus 5 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 1/4 water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  1.  preheat oven to 325
  2. grease and lightly flour 2 9″ pans
  3. Combine egg, egg whites, cream of coconut, water, and vanilla in a bowl and whip until combined
  4. In a mixer bowl with the paddle attachment combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mix to combine
  5. add room temp butter, a slice at time into the bowl with the mixer on low, beat until mixture looks like corn meal
  6. add half the liquid and mix until combined and fluffed, add other half until combined, the batter will be thick
  7. pour into greased pans and cook for 30 minutes
  8. take cakes out, leaving the oven on, rest cakes for 15 minutes and then take out of pans and rest to cool on racks

while cakes are cooling spread shredded coconut in a thin layer and toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes, when brown and toasty cool coconut on counter

Coconut buttercream frosting:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. combine the egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl and place over a saucepan with 2 inches of simmering water, stir egg white mixture until you can no longer feel any grit when you rub the mixture between your fingers
  2. put egg mixture in a mixer bowl and whip on medium speed with the whisk attachment until mixture cools and stiffens (around 8-10 minutes)
  3. add butter one slice at a time until incorporated, when mixture begins to look like curdled milk don’t worry it will smooth out as it beats
  4. when mixture looks smooth and glossy add cream of coconut and vanilla, whip until combined
  5. frost cooled cake and then take the toasted coconut in your hand and press it into the sides and then the top of the cake.

coconut cake whole

it really is a beautiful project …a light and airy cake with a lusciously smooth and coconut infused frosting, it almost makes March acceptable, almost.

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knocking off the Girl Scouts… making homemade samoa cookies

closeup samoa

The sugar monster who comes out at our house after the children are sleeping soundly in their beds has a love affair with coconut and a long standing affection for Somoa Girl Scout cookies, because after all the combination of crunchy cookie, coconut, caramel and chocolate is a beautiful one. So the sugar monster bought a package while downtown shopping, came home, pronounced to the family that we all needed to ask permission to eat his cookies and then to take it a step further he hid them… he actually didn’t trust us enough with just a warning about his precious cookies, he took the extra step and hid them on us. That evening he asked me if I might want one and I did, of course, but as I was chewing away I thought these are pretty good… but they’re not THAT good, I mean the coconut’s kinda dried out and the caramel is light and hell I could make a better cookie than this… and I did.

Now it’s not a hard process, like everything else it’s just steps and I have to say that making salted caramel is one of my favorite things to do, I give it as Christmas presents and it’s never bad to have a container of salted caramel sauce in your fridge for Ice Cream Sundaes or as my daughter who sneaks it and thinks I don’t notice, just scooping it out by the spoonful, all ooey and gooey and sweet and salty (I hid it in the vegetable drawer last week so she couldn’t find it). So if you want to lessen the time of making these cookies… just buy caramels, unwrap them, put them in a bowl and nuke them to finish off the cookies, that’s how I do the chocolate… but if you can take the time, please do make it because the salted caramel is worth it!

I started out with a basic sugar cookie as the base for the Somoa:

Sugar cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  2. In a mixer with paddle attachment whip butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Scrape down bowl and add in eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. Add in flour mixture until dough becomes uniform.
  5. Pat dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

(I made a double batch of the base and kept half of it for another day, it will last a couple weeks in the fridge)

While sugar dough is chilling make the caramel and coconut topping.

Salted Caramel

When making this caramel at Christmas to cut into squares or dip in chocolate I bring the temperature up to 248 degrees, when making caramel sauce I bring the temperature to 235 degrees and if you want a Werthers candy style you can take it above 248. You can take the sauce a little higher but temperature is the only downfall to this recipe you must stay at the stove and keep a close watch.

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tbls. butter
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium high heat combine water, sugar and corn syrup, stir to combine and then only swirl the pot to mix – do not stir.
  2. In another pot heat up cream, butter and salt until butter has melted, set aside.
  3. Cook sugar mixture, swirling the pot occasionally until mixture starts to turn a golden brown. Keep an eye at this stage, too little browning makes a dull caramel, go too far and you’ve burned the sugar and need to start over.
  4. When the sugar is golden brown remove from heat and slowly pour in the heated cream mixture, this will boil and froth vigorously so don’t be alarmed, it will settle down. Stir mixture and return the pot back to the heat.
  5. Stirring mixture, start tracking heat with a thermometer, it usually takes about 10 minutes to get to temp. If making sauce (235) you can pour mixture into a pyrex measuring cup to cool down. If making caramels (248) pour mixture into a pan lined with a silpat lining or parchment paper, add another sprinkling of salt to the top and allow to cool for an hour, then cut and wrap your caramels.

Coconut topping

  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  1. In a bowl mix together egg whites, salt and sugar.
  2. Add coconut and mix to uniform.

Now for the assembly! It’s the fun part…

Un wrap the sugar cookie dough and roll it out on a floured surface to about a 1/4″ thickness, minding that it stays loose on the bottom. Cut out shapes and lay on a baking pan lined with parchment paper or a silpat lining and top with a little mound of the coconut topping, patting it down a little so it will bake into the sugar cookie as opposed to on top of the sugar cookie.

Like so…

unbaked samoa

Bake cookies at 325 for 15- 18 minutes until sides start to brown. I found that with one batch I needed to broil them for a minute or two to brown the top of the coconut and get that toasted coconut flavor… I also forgot the last batch of coconut topping I baked on it’s own in the oven (on broil) and nearly burned my house down as I was gabbing across the street and the oven was on fire… but that’s just me, you’d never do that.

Cool cookies on a cooling rack, then using your homemade caramel or melted caramel cubes, drizzle caramel over cookies on the rack. Follow with milk or dark chocolate (also melted in the microwave or stove top).

It might seem daunting, but again, it’s just steps. Because I made a batch of the caramel recipe I had enough for Sundaes, snacking and at least 2 batches of cookies. Because I made a double batch of the sugar cookie recipe I’m gonna knock out another batch of these beauties today because I just have to roll, cut and make the super easy coconut topping… So give it a whirl, I promise they’re worth it.

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