Recipe: Coconut Cake with Coconut Buttercream.

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I had a few requests for the recipe of the Coconut Birthday Cake I just made for my mom, using Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water. It may have been the best coconut cake I’ve ever had, and it was certainly the best one I’ve ever made! So, I’d be happy to share it with those who’d like to give it a try! Heck, I’ll even share the recipe for the frosting.

Coconut Cake.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp baking powder

1 cup flour

1/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, egg, and oil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture, half and half, and Vita Coco to the original bowl, and beat until smooth. Grease one 8″ or 9″ pan (or a heart-shaped pan, like I did), and pour all of the batter in. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

Coconut Buttercream.

What you’ll need:

4 oz (1/2 stick) butter (melted)

2 oz shortening

10 oz confectioners sugar

1/4 tsp Madascar Bourbon Vanilla

3/4 oz Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and Vita Coco, mix until smooth and shiny.

Don’t forget to cover the sides of your cake with fresh coconut!! 🙂

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One Cake to Rule Them All: A Valentine Birthday Cake.


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My mom’s birthday is two days before Valentine’s Day. Every year, I make her a cake, and I try to make it exciting and different each year. Last, year, I did this one. This year, I decided to use these heart pans that my aunt gave me that I had yet to use, and was always hoping for a reason to use them. Well, what better reason than a birthday cake for my favorite lady, which also happens to be right around Valentine’s Day??

I went with an easy coconut cake, because that’s my mom’s favorite. I actually used Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water this time though, in both the cake and the icing – something I’d never done before, but it wound up working out fabulously.

coconut water

living la vita coco.

I baked the cake in the heart-shaped pan, and it just looked so cute, cooling on the rack, in all it’s heart-shapey-ness.

i heart this cake.

i heart this cake.

Next, I frosted it with the coconut water frosting. It was very….white.

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white iced.

Next, I added fresh coconut to the sides.

coconut siding.

coconut siding.

Then, I started decorating. First the border and the main flowers, all in pink, in honor of Valentine’s Day.

pretty in pink.

pretty in pink.

Then, I added the birthday wish, in dark chocolate.

they say it's  your birthday.

they say it’s your birthday.

And finally, I added a few more minor embellishments.

cake: complete.

cake: complete.

Once the cake was complete, I brought it over to my mom’s house to surprise her. She in turn, made me take half of it back home, like she always does. 🙂

one half of this will be mine.

one half of this will be mine.

Happy birthday and Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom. Hope you liked your (half of) cake! 😀

 

 

 

The Lamb Cake Gets a Makeover.

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Easter was over a week ago. I know. I’m a little behind…again. But seriously, this time I have a legitimate excuse – I have a wedding to plan! And although I’m writing a week late, I did actually make the Lamb Cake for Easter, I just haven’t had a chance to tell the world about it yet. This is the 4th year of the Lamb Cake; the 4th year since my Aunt Cetta gave me the lamb-shaped pan, and I decided to make it my job henceforth to bake the traditional Easter Lamb Cake every year going forward.

the pan where it all started.

the pan where it all started.

Over the years, the Lamb Cake has evolved, Year 1, I was just learning how to make this thing happen. Year 2, I played around a little and made some adjustments, Year 3, I had a near disaster, but managed to save the Lamb and maintain good form. This year, I was tired of the same old Lamb. I wanted something a little different. Plus it was also my fiance’s (I’m still getting used to saying that) birthday, so I wanted to make the Lamb out of things that he would like. He’d been asking me to make him a red velvet cake for a while now, so, I seized the opportunity to make the inside of the Lamb red velvet. Why didn’t I think of this before! Anyway, with red velvet insides, I needed something that worked on the outside. Instead of piping the Lamb with swirls of buttercream, I flat-iced it with a thin layer of my signature buttercream , then coated it with coconut flakes.

flakey.

flakey.

The coconut complimented the red velvet innards quite nicely, if I do say so. I put the Lamb in a box, and we carted it off to my parents’ house for Easter dinner. When it was time for dessert, I added a little something extra, to make it a little more birthday cake-like.

birthday lamb.

now it’s a party.

We devoured it as usual, until only the head remained (I will not subject you to the gruesome photographic evidence).

Until next year….

Home Grown Irish Potatoes.

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Ok, so these “potatoes” are actually not grown. They’re not even actually potatoes. They just kinda look like them. Mini potato lookalikes, that taste nothing like their larger counterpart. Nope, there is really nothing potato-like about Irish Potatoes other than an odd bumpy oval-ish shape and a brown coloring (which on the Irish Potato, is cinnamon, not skin).

cinnamon skin.

cinnamon skin.

Irish Potatoes are actually very similar in ingredients and method of production to buttercream icing. Both involve creaming together butter and confectioner’s sugar, but Irish Potatoes also include a bit of cream cheese and some coconut. Two of my favorite things.

potato mixing.

potato or buttercream?

They are also a stiffer consistency then the buttercream icing you’d want to use on your cake. They need to be, so they can be rolled into the classic potato shape they’re named for.

rolled and ready.

rolled and ready.

As I mentioned before, once they’re shaped, they are rolled in a bowl of cinnamon, and completely coated.

cinnamon rolled.

cinnamon rolled.

Finally, they are put in the fridge to set (about an hour or so should do the trick).

potato chillin'.

potato chillin’.

As far as actual recipe goes, I used a traditional Irish Potato recipe that I’ve had floating around for a few years and have used in the past with much success. It went a little something like this:

Irish Potato Candy.

What you’ll need:

1/4 cup butter (softened)

4 oz cream cheese (about half a package)

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 1/2 cups coconut

cinnamon for coating

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar, and beat until fluffy and icing-like. Add the coconut, and beat until well-blended. Roll into walnut-sized potato-shaped ovals. Roll each in a small bowl of cinnamon, until completely covered. Chill for about an hour. Eat and enjoy!

 

Shimmy, Shimmy, Coconut Cake (with Lemon Buttercream).

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My Mom’s birthday recently passed (she share’s her special day with Abraham Lincoln, as a matter of fact), and of course I did what I do best, and baked her a birthday cake. Last summer, I had made a Lemon Coconut Cake that she was particularly fond of, and went as far as saying that I should make that cake for her. So…that’s just what i did. I used my recipe for the cake (you can find it here), but I did something a little different for the frosting this time. Instead of using lemon juice or real lemons, I used lemon extract. I know, it sounds like cheating; but if you had tasted this icing, you’d cheat too. It may have been my favorite icing to date, and I’m not even a big fan of lemon desserts! If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself – the recipe is at the end of this post You can thank me later.

baked birthday bliss.

baked birthday bliss.

Once I had iced the cake with the lemon buttercream and covered it with fresh coconut, I felt like something was still missing. It needed a topper. The cake I made last summer had a cherry on top – that looked great! But I didn’t have any cherries…so I began scanning the kitchen for something that could work. Being it was just before Valentine’s Day, I had a container of conversation hearts just sitting on the table. I scoured them all, in search of the perfect message for the top of my mom’s cake. And there it was: “For You.”  Because, that’s what is was, after all.

pure and simple.

pure and simple.

My mom loved the cake, and just as I  had hoped, she sent me home with about a third of it. Don’t worry, I shared it with friends – only after eating a large piece myself, of course. 🙂

Anyway, as promised, here is the new Lemon Buttercream recipe. Enjoy!!

Lemon Buttercream (new and improved version!).

What you’ll need:

8 oz butter (room temperature)

4 oz shortening

1 lb 6 oz confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp lemon extract

1/2 oz water

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy, using the paddle attachment. Add the lemon extract and water, mix until shiny. If you want a thinner consistency, just add more water.

 

Recipe Saturday: Storm Cakes.

What do you do when the thing you’ve feared more than anything since you were about 5 years old is finally about to happen in the form of a superfreak “frankenstorm” with a path that appears to have curved intentionally to slam dead smack into your house? Bake, of course.

Enter: The Storm Cake.

I figured maybe by making a cake in honor of the storm, it would ease the blow – you know, the old “offerings to the angry gods to keep them from unleashing their wrath” kinda thing. Anyway, I began thinking, what kind of cake could live up to such a great task? What goes into a “storm cake?”  More importanly, what doesn’t? I couldn’t just frivolously use up my storm-essentials like eggs and milk. Not at a time like this. No, this cake must be egg and milk-free. But what to add? Chocolate chips seemed like a good choice. And coconut. Oh, and oats. And how ’bout some crushed oreos? So far so good. But a storm has clouds, and lots of them. Marshmallows seemed like a good cloud-representation, however, I had absolutely zero marshmallows in the house, and I was not about to go to the supermarket in the midst of the storm-preparation frenzy for mere marshmallows. So, I improvised.

peep no more.

I mixed it all together, and the batter looked like a jumbled mess – which was rather storm-like.

the wrath of cake.

I opted for cupcakes, and baked them up. When I took them out of the oven, they were bumpy, with things sticking out here and there – yet they rose to life as any normal cupcake should. These were truly Frankencupcakes.

it’s alive!

I topped them with a swirling cloud of cinnamon whipped cream, of which I originally made as topping for the Pumpkin Rosemary Pie, but still had a ton left over.

here comes the twister.

I had to eat one, to see if they lived up to the hype. And unlike I hope the real storm does, they did. The Storm Cake of the Century, I’d say. Give it a try and see for yourself. And if you don’t have all the ingredients, that’s ok – use what you’ve got. No two storms are exactly alike.

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Storm Cakes.

What you’ll need:

2 cups warm water

3/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup coconut

1 cup oats

4 crushed oreos

3 ghost-shaped marshmallow peeps (cut up)

What you’ll do:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix until well combined and smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips, coconut, oats, Oreos, and cut-up Peeps. Scoop into lined muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Should make about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. Cool, ice, and enjoy.

Eat Dessert and Adopt a Pet.

This weekend, I’m participating in a bake sale to benefit Furrever Friends Rescue and Volunteers, Inc, which is a wonderful organization dedicated to saving the lives of homeless pets. This particular cause is very dear to me, as I grew up in a family where all of our pets were shelter animals and I adopted my own pet (Gandalf the Gray) almost 10 years ago from a shelter.

10 years old, and still crazy as a kitten.

Anyway, if you are in the Philly area over the weekend, swing on down to the PetSmart in Deptford, NJ , and sample some delicious baked goods, all for a great cause. And, heck, why not adopt a pet while you’re at it!

And just to further entice you, here’s a glimpse of my donations.

Chocolate Chip Cookies….

the cookie next door.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies….

The exotic.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies…

the party cookie.

and Marzipan Mice.

the cheerleader.

The sale will be going on today from 10am to 9pm, and tomorrow 10am to 5pm. If you love animals and baked goods (and who doesn’t) then come on down!

Recipe Sunday: Lemon Coconut Cake.

So I was feeling really guilty that I haven’t posted any recipes in a while. So I decided earlier this week that I would post one today, but I hadn’t decided what and had no real direction. I did however, have this bag of Meyer Lemons which I had picked up because my cousin seemed to like them, and I trust her judgement. They were also cute and smaller than a regular lemon. I’ve used my cat for a size comparison:

note: this lemon was NOT used in the production of this cake.

Anyway, I decided I would put these little fellas to good use and make a lemon cake. As I started crafting the recipe, I thought that it would taste even better as a lemon coconut cake. So, that’s what I went with. Lemon cake, with lemon buttercream, covered in fresh coconut. And topped with a cherry. It makes a lovely light cake, perfect for a summer gathering on the veranda.

refreshingly sweet.

Lemon Coconut Cake.

What you’ll need:

6 oz eggs

2 1/4 oz half and half

2 1/2 oz high-ratio liquid shortening

1/4 oz lemon juice

5 oz sugar

4 oz cake flour

1/4 oz baking powder

1/4 oz salt

Zest of one small lemon (or half of a large one)

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, liquid shortening and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the dry ingredients on top of the wet, add the lemon zest,  and mix for 5 minutes on medium speed, with the paddle attachment. Scrape the bowl to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated, and mix on medium speed for 5 more minutes. Makes one 8” or 9″ round. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Lemon Buttercream.

What you’ll need:

8 oz butter (room temperature)

4 oz shortening

1 lb confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp bottled lemon juice

1 oz fresh lemon juice

Zest of one small lemon (or half of a large lemon)

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy, using the paddle attachment. Add the lemon juice and zest, mix until shiny. If you want a thinner consistency, just add more juice.

Assembling the cake:

Slice the 8″ or 9″ round into two layers.

and one becomes two.

Cover the top of one of the layers with buttercream, and sprinkle with fresh coconut.

halfway there.

Place the second layer on top, ice the rest of the cake, and cover the entire thing with coconut. Top with a cherry in the center.

oh cherry!

The Power of Pixies.

So the other night, I participated in WHYY’s Best of Chefs Event, as I mentioned in my last post. The event was a blast! It was organized, fun, well-attended and also provided me with a serendiptious opportunity to do some market research. Allow me to explain: I made an assortment of Pixie Cakes, in the following flavors:

Chocolate Pixies

Chocolate cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in dark chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles.

Vanilla Pixies

Vanilla cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in white chocolate, sprinkled with sugar.

Red Velvet Pixies

Red Velvet cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in white chocolate, sprinkled with red sugar.

Cookies and Cream Pixies

Chocolate cake mixed with cookies and buttercream icing, rolled in cookie crumbs.

and Coconut Pixies.

Vanilla cake mixed with coconut buttercream, dipped in white chocolate, and sprinkled with coconut.

I placed them all on a tray, as so:

Pixies on a plate.

Now here’s where it got interesting: the doors opened and the crowd shuffled in. As they approached my table, one after another after another went straight for the Red Velvet. And if it wasn’t the Red Velvet, it was the good old fashioned Chocolate. Now by mere coincidence, I made more of the Red Velvets than any of the others; but it didn’t matter – I ran out of them first, and people were coming back and asking me if there were anymore! When I told them I ran out, they were only dejected for a second, and then just sampled another flavor instead (and liked it!).

The moral of the story: cake is great, but Red Velvet rules.

The people have spoken.

You say Potato, I say…Candy?

I didn’t realize how easy Irish Potatoes were to make. I also didn’t realize that they were pretty much just a ball of coconut icing covered in cinnamon. I didn’t realize how much I love them. Funny what you don’t realize.

Anyway, I decided to make these this year for the first time. I had imagined they were difficult – not sure why, but possibly because no one I know ever seemed to make them, or discuss making them, so that just led me to subconsciously place them in the “hard to make” category. I was completely wrong. I admit it. I’m wrong sometimes.

Anyway, I had no recipe for these anywhere in any of my books at home, so I googled it, and found this recipe – http://allrecipes.com/recipe/irish-potato-candy/. I thought, “Gee, that sounds too easy. Let me make sure it’s actually the real deal.” So I checked out a few other links, and the recipes were all basically the same. So, I gave it a whirl.

They looked and tasted great. Better than I remembered even the ones in the box tasting! Not only were they super simple to make, they were fun too.

Simple. like Love.

Really good things don’t have to be complicated. We just often think they need to be.