Monday, November 22, 2010

A Treat from Paradise

My friend, Jen is absolutely in love with Hawaii. I'm pretty sure if it could some how be a person she would marry it. Jen spent some of the summer in Hawaii this year with her family and misses it a ton. If she didn't talk about it so often, you would still know how much she is in love with the ocean as her walls are plastered with posters and pictures of Hawaiian beaches.

I decided to incorporate Jen's passion for Hawaii into my first cake for the apartment family. Thus coconut, her favorite flavor was an absolute must.
(Mike and me pumped for coconut cake)

Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite Food Network chefs. Her recipes are easy and call for simple and very available ingredients, but they also create a profound flavor. I realize most people usually don't have a taste for coconut, however if you do, you will absolutely love this.

Bloomington is starting to get a little chilly and all the leaves have fallen. So before it snows and we start getting into the hustle and bustle of Christmas (I have to personally wait until after Thanksgiving to get into full swing), I decided to give one last hurrah for summer, even though Gwen said that my cake actually looked as if it was covered in the first blizzard of winter. Maybe it was more a celebration of both endings and new beginnings.

The recipe creates enough batter for a 9-in cake pan. However, I think it's more resourceful to use my 8-in pan and then use the extra batter to create cupcakes.

There were a couple reviews saying that the cake itself was dry, I think it was because they might have overcooked the cake. I just did the toothpick test (stick a toothpick into the center of the cake, when it hits the bottom pull up, if you come out with a clean toothpick, your cake is ready!) every 5 minutes after it was in the oven for 30. I think my cake ended up being done about 5 minutes early.

Jen and I, avid coconut lovers that we are really enjoyed this cake.....let's just say there was only a few coconut flakes left on the plate.
Coconut Cake


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
  5. For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).
  6. To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

Bon Appetite!
Chef Maggie

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