Have you ever seen a recipe and known in your heart of hearts that you must make it now? That’s how I felt when I saw Pina Colada Cake by Chef Dennis earlier this year.
Normally, I follow a recipe to a “tee” the first time — out of respect for the Chef who created it, and because I hope you do the same with mine. :) I can’t begin to count the number of fabulous meals that have graced our table as a result. (I love food blog world… sigh.)
But, when I checked my pantry for pineapple, I was out. (Drat!)
Sometimes ya gotta punt…
Racking my brain for a suitable substitute, I decided to compensate for the missing “pineapple moisture” with a smidge of lime juice.
(Bear in mind, it was strictly conjecture at that point… precise measurements to follow.) Lime pairs well with coconut, yes?
Speaking of “pairs,” I spied some fresh pears on the counter… hmm.
A chopped pear would contribute “body” without adversely affecting the flavor. Don’t ya just love food “science?”
Allow me to interject — I Googled straightaway to see if there were other lime & coconut cakes out and about — there were. But, none of them included a pear or spelled it ala Harry Nilsson’s song. :)
After a few trials and tweaks (made it with a D’Anjou pear first, then tried a Bosc — all in the name of research, of course…), it was a keeper! The cake was moist and dense, with a hint of lime and a tease of coconut.
After all was said and done, I frosted my “adaptation,” sprinkled toasted coconut over the top, and it was indeed over the top!
Prepare yourself for a taste of the tropics…
Put De Lime In De Coconut Cake
(adapted from Pina Colada Cake by Chef Dennis)
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups coconut, divided
1/2 c. butter, plus additional for the pan
1/4 c. brown sugar (that’s all!)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 ripe pear (D’anjou or Bosc), peeled, seeded, & diced
Zest of 1 medium lime
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
15 oz. can Cream of Coconut, divided (I used Coco Lopez)
Coconut Lime Frosting (recipe follows)
Toasted Coconut, for garnish
Coconut Lime Frosting:
3/4 c. Mascarpone cheese (homemade or store-bought)
3/4 c. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 to 2 Tbsp. Cream of Coconut, reserved from above
For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan; set aside.
Spread 1 cup of coconut on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring several times until golden brown; immediately remove from baking sheet to cool; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup coconut (untoasted); set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside.
Peel, core, and dice the pear. Place the diced pear into a 2-cup measuring cup. (It should yield 1 cup, loosely packed.) Add lime zest and juice; toss to coat.
In the same measuring cup, pour 1 cup Cream of Coconut (approximately) over the diced pear mixture, until the total quantity measures 1-3/4 cups. Reserve remaining Cream of Coconut for the frosting.
Add pear mixture to creamed mixture; beat well. (Batter will look soupy and some of the pears will still be “chunky,” but that’s okay.)
Gradually add flour mixture in thirds — no need to create a dust storm! — and beat on low speed until just combined.
Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a sharp knife around inside edge of the pan, invert and remove the pan, then flip the cake back onto the cooling rack to cool completely.
(Note: Cake may rise significantly above the pan — not to worry — just another reason to label it “over the top!”)
Trim edges of cake before frosting, if desired.
For the Frosting:
Prepare homemade Mascarpone cheese several hours in advance (I made it with lime juice instead of lemon juice); refrigerate until set.
Alternatively, use store-bought Mascarpone & get on with it. :)
Whip the cream cheese, Mascarpone, and butter until fluffy.
Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt, and lime juice; mix well.
Add enough of the reserved Cream of Coconut until frosting reaches “spreadable” consistency.
Frost top & sides of cooled cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Enjoying cake by de lake,