27 April 2011
Easter dessert this year was a coconut cake. My mom made this recipe a while ago and likes it because it packs a very flavorful coconut taste. Many coconut cake recipes use just flavoring and flaked coconut, but this recipe uses coconut milk as the liquid in the cake. We hadn't made it in a while and decided it would be perfect for this spring holiday.
This cake once graced the cover of a Cooking Light magazine, where my mom had first seen it. It's a very pretty, two layer cake filled with an Italian meringue frosting that's flavored with coconut extract. An Italian meringue is simple to make and doesn't dissolve as quickly as a traditional meringue. A sugar syrup is boiled to the proper temperature, then beaten into the whipped egg whites. The heat of the syrup cooks the eggs and makes them safe to consume. It reminds me of a 7-minute icing, where the egg whites are cooked with sugar over a double boiler and whipped for 7 minutes. It tastes like marshmallows.
As I mentioned above, the batter has coconut milk instead of cow milk. The original recipe calls for light coconut milk, but it also works just as well with whole fat coconut milk.
The cake layers were baked the night before, minimizes work on Easter. There was somewhat of a catastrophe that occurred just before we went to make the icing, which was me spilling part of dinner on the floor, but once it was cleaned up the meringue was prepared without a glitch. We brought the cake layers out, icing the first one, topping with icing and flaked coconut, then repeating the process with the second layer. My mom grated fresh lemon zest over the top for color. It also gave the cake a nice subtle lemon essence.
Everyone was looking forward to this cake. Yes, we had a secondary Italian pasta dessert (it's like tapioca, but with acini de pepe), but sweet pasta can't compare to cake. I am usually the one to slice cakes in our family. It's tradition, like how the dad carves the turkey on Thanksgiving. I made the first impression with the knife and pressed down, only to meet with resistance when I reach the bottom layer. The cake started to slide and the frosting in the middle began to press out. I had no idea what was going on. I managed to slice into the bottom layer, though, as you can observe from the pictures, the slices were less than pretty. After making the second slice I looked down to see what seemed like a flap of skin, which I had thought peeled off from the bottom of the layers. And I was right, though instead of skin-like cake layers it was a layer of wax paper that hadn't been peeled from off the bottom of the cake. In the confusion of the pre-frosting disaster we sort of failed to remember it was even there, and since the wax paper was translucent we couldn't tell by looking that it was still there.
And that's the story. If you want to make this cake, and I highly suggest you do, please remember to peel the parchment or wax paper layer from the cake layers.
You can find the recipe by clicking on this link, which is from Cooking Light.