Put De Lime In De Coconut Cake

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)

Cake:

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,

~ Kim

Tiramisu with Bailey’s Irish Cream

I have to hand it to the gift-givers in my life — they sure know how to make me ooh and aah.  Take this gorgeous set of plates from my sister…

The only way to describe their color is Northern Lights.  (A befitting gift from my Minnesota sis, eh?)  With their deep amber/reddish center surrounded by luxurious rays of gold/green/brown (depending on the light), I needed to make a dessert befitting of their wonder.

Leave it to my friend, Shirley (Welcome To Shirley’s Luxury Haven) to supply just the thing.  Tiramisu with Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Ooh!  Aah!

While Tiramisu is traditionally made by dipping lady fingers in espresso or coffee-flavored liqueur, the good folks at Bailey’s now make a “a hint of coffee” version, too — the best of both worlds.

Thus, a befitting dessert was born.  Or rather, re-created.  I made this dessert to participate in Shirley’s “DIY This Christmas with 12 Lovely Recipes” challenge and I’m so-o-o glad I did.

Which just goes to prove that good things happen when you leave milk and cookies out for Santa.

Enjoying the wonder of it all,

~ Kim

Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast with Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Ever notice how breakfast tastes better on a weekend morning?

I’m not much of a breakfast-eater during the week (unless it comes in a mug), but on Saturday mornings I’m in the mood for something decadent — not your ordinary breakfast fare.

The solution to my craving was Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast.

Filled with ripe strawberries, sweetened mascarpone and cream cheeses, and a hint of spice, it elevated plain ol’ French Toast into something extraordinary.  Plus, it was quick to make.

Unless, of course, your local grocer happens to be out of Mascarpone cheese… in which case, you start the night before.

(Feel free to skip ahead to the French Toast recipe if you have Mascarpone on hand!)

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

(Adapted from two tarts’ recipe on Tasty Kitchen)

1 c. heavy cream

1/4 t. confectioners’ sugar

1/2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Whisk together cream and confectioners’ sugar in a double boiler over simmering (not boiling) water.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until it reaches 180° F.  Add lemon juice and stir 5 minutes more; remove from heat.

Set top part of double boiler on a pot holder; let stand undisturbed for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl; line sieve with cheesecloth.  (In a pinch, use a coffee filter — same principle.)

Slowly pour the cream mixture into the sieve; let stand 20 minutes or until cool enough to refrigerate.  Wrap sieve (bowl and all) in plastic wrap; chill overnight.

In the morning, scrape the fresh Mascarpone cheese from the filter (it doesn’t stick) and discard the liquid in the bowl.

Prepare to be amazed…

I’ll never lack for Mascarpone cheese again.  Or stuffed French Toast…

Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast

6 slices French bread, approximately 2″ wide each

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 oz. Mascarpone cheese, softened (homemade or store-bought)

1 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for serving

1 pint ripe strawberries (reserve some for garnish)

1 c. milk

3 eggs

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

Create a “pocket” in each slice of bread by slicing through the middle without cutting through the crust; set aside.

Mix together softened cheeses and confectioners’ sugar until well blended.

Rinse and hull strawberries; pat dry.  Slice berries into 1/4″ slices.

Spread a generous portion of cheese mixture in each French bread “pocket.”  Layer with sliced strawberries; set aside.

In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, spices, and salt.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter on a griddle over medium heat.

Meanwhile, dip each stuffed French toast into egg batter, covering both sides; drain slightly.

Fry three pieces at a time.  When underside is golden brown, flip over and fry until golden on both sides.  Keep warm in a 250 oven until remaining pieces are cooked.  (Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to griddle before frying the rest.)

Serve with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar; garnish with whole strawberries.

Weekend French Toast

This weekend, treat your family (or yourself) to breakfast — you’ll be glad you did!

Enjoying a slice of Stuffed French Toast (okay, two…),

~ Kimby