Strawberry Coconut Cake

June 17, 2012

 

Margaux says…

I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but I made a boxed cake today.  This is the first boxed cake I have bought since I was in high school, I think!  Ok, let’s start from the beginning: I pinned this cake on Pinterest, not even looking at the recipe first, because it was so pretty.  Who isn’t attracted to a bright pink cake?  Plus, I love coconut.  Then I realized that it was with a white cake mix and a package of jello, and I thought, well, I’ll just do it from scratch instead someday.  Fast forward to today, Father’s Day, and me asking my husband what he wants for his Father’s Day “treat.”  He didn’t really have any idea, so I took him to my “baking” pinboard on Pinterest, and he picked this cake!  (Shows what I know…I thought for sure he would pick a pie, or the ice cream cake that I’ve been dying to make.)  Ok, it’s 85 degrees outside, and I’m 7 months pregnant…boxed cake mix it is!  Plus, I realized that the original recipe is from Joy the Baker‘s website, who I trust for cakes (I’ve made quite a few of hers), so I figured, how bad could it be if she likes it?

The cake mix is seriously doctored, and the frosting is KILLER, so you can’t really tell it’s from a mix.  Well, actually, I could, but everyone else that was scarfing it down said they couldn’t.  I felt a little betrayed, actually.  All the hard work I put into my cakes, and my family loves the doctored-up cake mix just as much.

Strawberry Coconut Cake

adapted from Joy the Baker

1 (18.5 ounce) box white cake mix (without pudding)

1 (3 ounce) package strawberry jello

1 Tablespoon self rising flour

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1/3 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, combine to cake mix, Jello, flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the oil.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition  Add the water, coconut extract and strawberries and mix well.  Divide the batter evenly into three 8-inch round baking pans that have been oiled and floured.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the layers from the oven to wire racks.  Let them cool, still in their pans, for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then unmold each layer onto the racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 (1 pound) boxes powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

pink food coloring

4 sliced strawberries

To make the frosting, in a bowl combine the cream cheese and butter.  Beat until soft and pliable and no lumps remain.  Add one box of the powdered sugar, salt and coconut extract.  Beat until incorporated.  Add the second box of sugar and mix until incorporated.  If you would like a smoother consistency, and a slash of milk.  If you would like a thicker consistency, and a bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle with two or three drops of pink die.  Mix with hands to distribute the color and wash hands immediately.  Once the cake is frosted, decorate the top of the cake with the shredded coconut and sliced strawberries.

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Everything Muffins

November 21, 2011

Margaux says…

I made banana bread last week, and my husband said, “you should make this all the time, so we always have it on hand!”  He likes to grab a piece on his way out the door for breakfast.  Well, I can’t make the same thing over and over again, it’s just not in my nature.  So this has started me on a new trend of trying out breakfast breads, starting with this one.

(I get a LOT of help in the kitchen these days!)

This one is more of a cupcake, really, though…it would be great with cream cheese frosting!  I did cut back on the sugar a little bit from the original recipe, so it wasn’t TOO bad.  Definitely better than doughnuts!  And the are delicious!  (But I do recommend doing these as cupcakes with cream cheese frosting…REALLY delicious!!!  They have so much carrot in them, it’s sort of like a fancy carrot cake.)

Everything Muffins

2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted unbleached flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded peeled apple (I used Granny Smith)
1/2 cup coconut (I used sweetened because it was what I had on hand, but unsweetened would probably be better)
1/2 cup raisins (I used the golden berry blend from Trader Joe’s)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper baking cup in each of 18 regular size muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until well blended. Add brown sugar and beat with whisk until well blended, about one minute. Add flour mixture and mix just until completely blended. Stir in carrots, apples, coconut, raisins and nuts.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and smooth tops. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pan. Cool completely before frosting, if desired.

 

Margaux says…

When I saw the recipe for this pie, I had to make it.  I’ve never had apricots in pie before, and the combination of coconut and apricots was intriguing.  The combo does not disappoint…it’s really delicious!  I love the tartness of the apricots with the sweetness of the crumble.  The pie is pretty easy to make, too; the crumble can be made in a food processor and you don’t have to peel the apricots, so prep time is minimal.  The Martha Stewart version also has shaved toasted coconut piled on top in the center for a lovely decorative touch (which I did not take the time to do).

 

Apricot Pie with Coconut Crumble
from Martha Stewart Living

For The Topping
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut (3 ounces)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
For The Filling
1 3/4 pounds apricots, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges (6 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Coarse salt
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make the topping: Whisk together flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Pulse coconut in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and brown sugar, and pulse to combine. Add flour mixture, and pulse until clumps form.

Make the crust: Roll out pie dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears. Fold edges under, and press to seal. Crimp as desired. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Make the filling: Stir together apricots, sugars, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour filling into piecrust. Sprinkle with topping, squeezing some of the mixture into medium to large clumps and leaving a 1-inch border.

Bake pie on middle rack, with a foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack to catch juices, until vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden, about 1 1/2 hours. (Loosely tent topping with foil after 30 minutes to prevent burning.) Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving.

Margaux says….

I found this recipe years ago in Cook’s Illustrated for a coconut layer cake.  I love coconut cake, and this one looked perfect, as most “Cook’s” recipes are.  I’m just now finally getting around to making it, and I’m so thrilled I did!  The original recipe is for a 4-layer cake, but I wanted to make cupcakes so that I could share with several people, and they turned out great!  The frosting is so rich and heavenly, a cupcake is the perfect portion. 

You can find cream of coconut in the drinks section of the grocery store, or in the Mexican section, which is where I found it…Goya makes it. When you open the can, it will probably be really separated. The best way I found to fix that was by pouring it in to a medium bowl, microwaving it for 30-45 seconds, then whisking it until it’s smooth. Make sure it’s room temperature before using it.

Coconut Cupcakes
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, April 2001

Cake
1 large egg plus 5 large egg whites
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pure coconut extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp table salt
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool

2 cups packed (about 8 oz.) sweetened shredded coconut

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with 24 paper muffin cups.
2. Beat egg whites and whole egg in 4-cup measuring cup with fork to combine. Add cream of coconut, water, vanilla, and coconut extract and beat with fork until thoroughly combined.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on lowest speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, then beat until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.
4. With mixer still running, add 1 cup liquid. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer still running, add remaining liquid in steady stream (this should take about 15 seconds). Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
5. Divide batter between muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake until deep golden-brown, and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes (rotate pans after 10 minutes).
6. Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes, then remove from muffin tins and cool on racks completely.
7. While the cakes are cooling, spread shredded coconut on rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until shreds are a mix of golden brown and white, about 10-15 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Watch closely, they get dark fast!

Coconut Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, each stick cut into 6 pieces, softened, but still cool
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1 tsp pure coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine whites, sugar and salt in bowl of standing mixer, set bowl over saucepan containing 1 1/2 inches barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is opaque and warm to the touch and registers about 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.
2. Transfer bowl to mixer and beat whites on high speed with whisk attachment until barely warm (about 80 degrees) and whites are glossy and sticky, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-high and beat in butter 1 piece at a time. Beat in cream of coconut and coconut and vanilla extracts. Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Continue to beat at medium-high speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
3. Frost cupcakes generously with frosting. (You will probably have some left over, since this recipe is for filling and frosting a 4-layer cake. If you don’t want leftover frosting, make 3/4 of a recipe.) Top each cupcake with toasted coconut.

You can also make this cake into a 9 inch round layer cake. If you do, grease and flour 2-9 inch round cake pans or line with parchment paper. When cakes are cool, slice each layer in half horizontally, creating 4 layers. Frost each layer with about a cup (or less) of frosting in between, then frost the top and sides with the remainder. Spinkle the top of the cake with coconut. Then press the coconut into the sides.