Thursday, April 30, 2009
I know that it's not Easter..
There is a reason for the Bunny Cake..
This post is about all that's been Coconut in my life...
Both Past and Present
Most of the time I just have to crave coconut..
I crave it because I never get to have it.
Occasionally if I am out and the opportunity arises, I grab it and enjoy my love
Coconut and raisins have something very big in common.
Your love or hate for both is PRONOUNCED..
You either LOVE raisins or you HATE them.
THERE IS NO "HEM-HAWING" AROUND CONCERNING YOUR FEELINGS..
Same with Coconut.
I love them both.
Most of my family cannot tolerate coconut, thus I never make anything with it or
get to have anything made with it, myself.
Oh sure, I can buy an "Almond Joy", but I can never make a coconut creme pie, because no one will eat it...ditto for cake...macaroons...anything that is
My love for coconut has been a lifelong love affair.
My earliest recollections are tied with Easter, where the "Easter bunny" would
leave chocolate coconut "nests" with jelly beans in them, and also coconut creme
eggs in my Easter basket.
My Mother almost always made a "Bunny Cake" for Easter when we were young..
She was always so proud of it, and we loved it...
I will never forget a black and white photo of my Mother standing behind her
"bunny" creation, and looking just as proud as she could be!
(Note..her cake was actually much cuter than the one I posted, but I could not
find one as cute as hers..this is quite similar...)
I am not a fan of savory coconut items, i.e. "coconut chicken", but if it is
sweet and contains coconut, I am all over it...
My favorite is any wonderful COCONUT LAYER CAKE...
The cake itself should be light and moist, and the filling should be quite yummy.
My favorite filling would be a thin layer of lemon curd, but I am not opposed to other fillings if they are fab...
The frosting can be anything from a "7 minute" to a lightly whipped cream cheese
or cream one; and all should be topped with a generous topping of freshly grated and/or toasted coconut...
Now if this piece of Coconut Cake is several layers, and sitting in a lovely
pool of creme anglaise, I will not, I repeat, WILL NOT kick it out of bed, so to
As a matter of fact, I will not just LOVE it, I will ADORE IT!
COCONUT CREAM PIE...
Is there anything more delicious when it is really good? Topped with toasted
coconut and whipped cream? (I'm not a meringue fan..)
I made a point to try the infamous Coconut Cream Pie at Tom Douglas's restaurant,
"The Dahlia Lounge" in Seattle, and found it to be pretty yummy...Very fresh...
with fresh coconut used.
I recommend "The Dahlia Lounge", or any of his restaurants if you visit Seattle
(I believe that he has 3 or 4 different ones there, all with excellent reviews..)
The recipe for COCONUT MACAROONS using Eagle Brand Milk is so easy, it can be made in a snap with only about 3 ingredients as I recall...
I remember that my Mother made these in a chocolate version when our Priest came
to visit us at home...
(Once again...funny about my childhood memories...see,what did I tell you? Whenever
food is involved...see previous post about childhood memories..)
Here is another childhood memory about food, and particularly coconut...
When I was at our church "fair" as a child, I was playing "musical chairs"...No
real skill involved in this game, but luck is the key, and it must have been my "lucky day", because I won three times!!
The winner got to pick a cake to take home.
I,of course, got to pick three cakes.
Two out of three that I picked were COCONUT!!
I am very "LOYAL WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE"...
My Love for Coconut is no exception..
Barefoot Contessa has a very good recipe for these..
(They can also be bought in a "mix" form that includes a mix for both the
cupcakes and the frosting..expensive but quite good..all of her "mixes" are very good...though you pay for the "convenience")
My favorite cupcake at "Sprinkles" is the Madagascar Vanilla with Coconut Cream
Cheese Frosting...(doesn't that just wanna make you weep? SO GOOD!!!)
COCONUT ICE CREAM...
Believe it or not, this is not an easy ice cream to come by...
It's certainly not at every ice cream parlor...
When you DO get a wonderful version though..it's Heaven...
Let's pause for another quick childhood foodie memory...
(oh pahleese..when do these end?...NEVER!!!!)
When I was a child,(yawn), my family stopped at Howard Johnson's restaurant for
ice cream cones on the way home from my Grandfather's.
We got the coconut ice cream, and we all remember how we stood outside the
restaurant on those hot summer nights, and ate that wonderful coconut ice cream
cone as it melted and dripped down our arms from the heat.
It was such a mess but SO GREAT that we didn't care...
Well, I could go on and on..(duh)
Now don't think that I have forgotten "coconuts haystacks" or other wonderful coconut delights, but I am out of time, and I simply must tell you one last "Coconut" story and leave you with a recipe as well...
When I LOVE something, I do try to find the very best of it, and if I find myself
visiting the area that "it" is in, I don't leave without making a point to try
Our vacation in Charleston was no exception to that rule..
I had read ahead of time, that there was a wonderful restaurant there that was
known worldwide for their version of coconut cake..Why people order it from all
over the country for $100.00 plus shipping..(Whoa..it better be good, eh?)
The restaurants that makes this delectable cake is...
THE PENINSULA GRILL www.peninsulagrill.com/
DO take a look at the actual coconut cake if you go to the website, as it is
divine beyond description...( and yes, it sits in a pool of creme anglaise..)
Even though the Peninsula Grill is an award winning restaurant, there were many,
many wonderful restaurants in Charleston, and I did not particularly want to eat dinner there specifically, but HAD to have a piece of their coconut cake.
My son and I stayed at the incredible Charleston Place Hotel which was right
across the street. I asked our concierge if it would be okay to go across the
street and request just a piece of the cake to go....
He laughed and said that people did it ALL THE TIME...
I went across the street, (with my son moaning...he is one of the ones that HATES
coconut, besides which he was a bit embarrased because the restaurant is quite
nice, and he thought that my request was really lame...As usual, I paid absolutely
no attention, as I was on a MISSION!... which is how I've survived many things,
but we will go into that another time....)
Sorry, I digress...
We entered through the beautiful bar, filled to the brim with "beautiful people"...
I finally got the bartender's attention, and within 20 minutes,( I ordered drinks for both of us..), I got the "legendary" cake...
It came in a Styrofoam container that was big enough to contain a meal for 4
people! The reason for that was because the coconut cake was..... get ready....
TWELVE LAYERS!!!!!!(including cake, filling, and frosting)
It's really a shame that I could only finish about a third of it, as my son did
not want any, and we were not staying at a hotel with a fridge, but OH MY...
If that wasn't a culinary highlight in one's life, I don't know what would be.
If you love coconut cake, then you can either order it, visit the restaurant in
Charleston, or though it looks a bit daunting...MAKE IT!
The following is a 3 layer version, with ingredients cut down just a bit...
If you want the 6 layer version, then visit Martha Stewart's website, which
has published the 6 layer version...
Both versions are the "REAL DEAL"....
(note that this is something that must be made in two days, as the filling must
be refrigerated overnight...Finished cake must also sit out for three hours before
serving...and I've read that cutting is best done while still chilled)
DO let me know if you make this, as I would love to know how it came out!
Peninsula Grill coconut cake (the 3 layer version)
Makes 12 servings
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups whipping cream
½ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups sweetened flaked coconut
¼ cup sour cream
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks)
unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large eggs
1 1/3 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
For filling: Stir cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water, and vanilla in small bowl to dissolve cornstarch. Bring cream, sugar, and butter to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Add cornstarch mixture and bring to boil. Remove from heat and stir in coconut. Cool completely. Mix in sour cream. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
For cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in cream and vanilla. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture. Divide batter equally among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.
For frosting: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
Place 1 cake layer on cake plate. Top with half of filling. Place second cake layer atop filling. Top with remaining filling. Place third cake layer atop filling. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Pat toasted coconut over top and sides of cake, pressing gently to adhere. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 3 hours before serving