Seeing coconuts in stores reminds me of our recent travels in Asia–3 weeks of foodie adventures in Hong Kong, Penang and Singapore with tropical warm weather and surprising amalgamations of flavors. Hong Kong had the familiar flavors of childhood with some new Euro influences. Penang and Singapore, on the other hand, introduced me to unfamiliar combinations of flavors.
I recently posted a Coconut Tart with Glazed Peanuts. Now, my longing for warm weather and perhaps another vacation, I returned to coconut for a another reminder of that trip. Fresh tropical fruits are bountiful year-round in South East Asia, but only a handful of them are readily available in the States, so, I chose coconut and mango for this undertaking. Coconut cake made from fresh coconut has the ultimate blast of flavor, but again, it’s not available to everyone. Also, preparation is quite a daunting task–the drilling of the shell, the baking of the coconut, the scraping of the flesh, and so on. By all means, try it for a really special occasion, but for now here’s something easier.
Fresh mangos might not be available at all times, but you can use frozen mangos or puree from Trader Joe’s for this recipe. Make this cake so you can dream of a journey to a far away land, where the warm breeze, fragrant scent and ambrosial nectar will bring new experiences.
Coconut Cake w Mango Curd
recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
makes one 9-inch, 4-layer cake
1 large egg
5 large egg whites
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), sifted
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5-3/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (about 8 ounces)
Mango Curd, recipe to follow
Seven Minute Frosting, recipe to follow
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and dust with flour.
2. Beat egg whites and whole egg in large measuring cup with fork to combine. Add cream of coconut, water, vanilla, and coconut extract and beat with fork until thoroughly combined.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine. With mixer still running on lowest speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about 2 minutes.
4. With mixer still running, add 1 cup liquid. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. Add remaining 1 cup liquid in steady stream (this should take about 15 seconds). Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
5. Divide batter between cake pans and level with offset spatula. Bake until deep golden brown, cakes pull away from sides of pans, and toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes (rotate cakes after about 20 minutes). Do not turn off oven.
6. Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes, then loosen cakes from sides of pans with paring knife, invert cakes onto racks and then re-invert; cool to room temperature.
7. While cakes are cooling, spread coconut flakes on rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until are a mix of golden brown and white, about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Cool to room temperature.
12 ounces mango puree from about 2 fresh mango, or Trader Joe’s mango puree
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime/lemon juice
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1. Combine mango puree, sugar, lime juice, salt and yolks in a medium-size bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk puree until thickened and thermometer registers 170°F., about 12-15 minutes.
2. Remove bowl from simmering water and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through a sieve into a container; place pa piece of plastic wrap directly on top of mango curd. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
3/4 plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1. Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup and water in a small saucepan; set over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Increase to medium heat and bring mixture to a boil without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
2. While sugar mixture is boiling, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, beat until combined.
3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes.
4. Add coconut extract, beat to combine.
1. With a long serrated knife, cut both cakes in half horizontally so that each cake forms two layers.
2. Put a dab of icing on a cardboard round cut just larger than the cake. Center one cake layer on the round.
3. Place 1/4 cup of mango curd in the center of the layer and spread it to the edges with an off-set spatula. Top with a layer of cake and repeat.
4. Apply frosting on top and side of cake. Press coconut flakes on bottom half of the side of cake.
1. If you use fresh mangoes, there will be extra puree.
2. Mango Curd will have a looser consistency than a regular curd.