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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vanilla-Coconut Cake With Coconut Buttercream

Man, April seems to be full of birthdays! I definitely do not remember so many last year, but then again, I hadn't yet met the awesome people I know this year!

For this birthday cake, I decided to adapt a recipe from Epicurious for vanilla-bean-coconut cupcakes. Vanilla beans are expensive, and since I'm not getting paid for these cakes [yet!], I'm sticking to good ol' extract. And then I ran out of white sugar, so brown sugar it is, which I actually like better! It makes the cake more moist, which is good since this was a tiny cake. I only made one layer and cut it in half into two since I was pressed for time, but it still fed everyone!

For the filling, I decided to do a combination of buttercream and strawberry preserves. I just had this brainwave as I was searching my fridge for butter and saw a jar. I garnished with a strawberry to hint at the filling. At first, I thought it might taste weird; I mean coconut and strawberries? But it was a hit, and the world of baking has once again been revolutionised.

OH, one more thing: Reduced coconut milk may be my new favourite cooking trend. It tastes amazing and the results are fabulous! In my next post, I'll show how I made good use of the leftovers...

Vanilla-Coconut Layered Cake with Strawberries

Reduced coconut milk:
  • 2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 strawberry, sliced [garnish; optional]


For reduced coconut milk:
Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to mediumlow; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For cupcakes:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour one 8-inch round springform pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes.

Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended.

Pour batter into pan and bake until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.

To assemble:

Unwrap cake. Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice off the top of the cake to make it flat. Reserve cake top to eat on its own! Slice the cake in half horizontally. On the bottom layer, spread with frosting. On the other layer, spread the preserves. Carefully lift the top layer and stack it on top of the first layer. Use an offset spatula to spread the rest of the frosting up and around the cake. Refrigerate.

Using a piping bag or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off [which is what I do], pipe a design up and around the cake. Garnish with the sliced strawberry, and finish off by brushing a thin layer of preserves on the strawberry to give it a nice shiny glaze. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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