Posts tagged coconut

Chocolate Coconut Tres Leches

Chocolate coconut tres leches on a plate

Tres Leches translates into three milks cake. With nearly the consistency of a pudding cake, the dense cake batter is designed to soak up a sweetened milk glaze that you pour over it before after baking and before adding the frosting.

 

I first sampled the traditional vanilla tres leches not in Mexico, but La Crosse, Wisconsin of all places. In a tiny Mexican restaurant frequented by college students and foodies our server brightened when we ordered the tres leches. The owner of Iguana’s Mexican Street Cafe made it from scratch and took great pride in serving us a huge slice. I’ve been thinking about making it ever since. That was July.

 

I wanted to amp up the flavor of the cake so of course I thought it needed chocolate. I found a version of Chocolate Rum Cake from Chow that lead me through how to add chocolate to both the cake batter and the tres leches glaze. But I also wanted to temper some of the tres leches glaze, which can become too sweet for my taste, with another ingredient. I found it in coconut milk – a great stand-in for much of the heavy cream and some of the sweetened condensed milk. I just couldn’t stop there. I also added dark cocoa powder into the whipped frosting for a rich dessert that really is more like Cinco Leches – sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, coconut milk, heavy cream, and milk chocolate chips. I usually opt for semi-sweet but this creamy dessert works better with a milky chocolate.

 

Both of the recipes I combined made the tres leches cake as a layer cake. I like it better in a casserole dish – it’s easier to make that way and serves more people. If you want a layered cake go ahead but your cake may not soak up all the tres leches glaze, which was another reason I went with the dish – I didn’t want to lose any of the sauce!

Chocolate Coconut Tres Leches

Recipe

For the cake

¾ cup water

2 tsp. dark cocoa powder (opt. I used black onyx)

½ cup cocoa powder

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 ¼ cups sugar

5 large egg yolks

½ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

8 large egg whites

¾ tsp. cream of tartar

 

For the tres leches

4 ounces chocolate (milk chocolate chips work well)

1 cup coconut milk

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup evaporated milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

Tres leches ingredients

For the frosting

2 cups heavy cream

1/8 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

 

For the garnish

Shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Mini chocolate chips

 

Directions

For the cake

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously coat the inside of a 9” x 13” casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks, oil, and extracts until combined. Whisk dark cocoa powder into the water right in the measuring cup and then whisk into the egg mixture.
  4. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the flour until combined. (Lots of whisking!)
  5. In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites, ½ tsp. salt, and the cream of tartar in a bowl until the egg whites become frothy, about 2 minutes. (Yes, you’re essentially making a meringue.) Gradually add the rest of the sugar, ¾ cup, into the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  6. Working in three batches, add 1/3 of the egg whites to the flour-egg yolk mixture and fold together until there are no white streaks. Follow the same procedure with the rest of the egg whites.
  7. Pour the batter into the casserole dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Test to see if the cake is done by putting a toothpick into the center – if it comes out clean take the cake out of the oven. Cool the cake for 10 minutes.

Adding tres leches

For the tres leches glaze

  1. In a large, glass measuring bowl, melt together the chocolate and ¼ cup heavy cream in the microwave on medium-high heat for 90 seconds. Stir until smooth.
  2. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk in coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, extracts.
  4. Pour 1/3 of the tres leches glaze onto the cake. Wait 10 minutes and then pour the next 1/3. Follow the same process with the rest of the glaze.
  5. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or, if possible, overnight.

 

For the whipped topping

  1. With a hand-held mixer beat the whipping cream until frothy. Add the coconut milk and powdered sugar to the whipping cream until stiff, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the extracts and cocoa powder and whip 30 more seconds.
  3. Spread the whipped topping onto the cake using a spatula.
  4. Optional toppings – shredded coconut and mini chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate 1 more hour.

 

To serve

  1. On a large plate use chocolate sauce (such as Hershey’s syrup – it’s for the design not the flavor) and make a swirl shape on the plate.
  2. Use the extra tres leches sauce in the pan to do another swirl of sauce.
  3. Cut the cake into square pieces.

 

*Not a coconut fan? The coconut flavor in this recipe is subtle. Nix the coconut extract and the coconut milk in the whipped topping if you don’t like coconut. Keep it in the tres leches and you probably won’t notice it. Or, just go ahead and use all heavy cream instead of any coconut milk.

 

Pieces of chocolate coconut tres leches

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German chocolate fudge

German chocolate fudge with a bite picThank you Kris Bordessa at Attainable Sustainable for introducing me to this fabulous fudge recipe. I put my own spin on it this Christmas season by infusing it with some of my favorite ingredients–coconut and walnuts.

 

Recipe

Servings: 1 9×13″ pan — plenty of thick pieces

 

IngredientsGerman Chocolate Fudge Piece pic

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butter

4 1/2 cups sugar

7-oz. jar marshmallow creme

12-oz. can evaporated milk

2 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (divided–if you have time, toast it!)

1 tsp. Espresso powder or black onyx powder

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (opt. Ghirardelli are my fav)

 

Directions

  1. Place the chocolate chips, butter, and marshmallow creme in a large bowl.
  2. In a large cooking pot, heat together the evaporated milk and the sugar. Bring the mixture to a slow boil then keep it simmering at medium-high heat. Stir the mixture for 8 minutes. (Watch it! It can boil over.)
  3. Pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the chocolate chips.
  4. Beat the mixture using an electric mixer until it starts to thicken.
  5. Stir in vanilla, coconut extract, 1 cup coconut, walnuts, and mini chocolate chips.
  6. Prepare a 9 x 13″ pan by lining it with parchment paper, coat lightly with cooking spray.
  7. Spread the fudge mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Gently press the coconut into the fudge.
  8. Place the fudge into the refrigerator until the fudge becomes hardened.
  9. Cut into smaller 1″ pieces using a sharp knife.

Tip: I like to place the pieces into mini paper muffins wrappers. The perfect bite-sized pieces ready for eating!

 German Chocolate fudge pieces pic

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Coconut mangoberry buckle

Coconut mango strawberry buckleI saw this posted on King Arthur Flour’s blog and figured I had to give it a try. The original recipe for Peachberry Buckle called for a mixture of peach and blueberries. But since I’d just gone strawberry picking with my daughter, that’s what I used.

 

Beside swapping out the blueberries, I jazzed up the flavor of the buckle in a few others ways, too. I added in coconut to the crumb topping and coconut extract to the batter. As for the peaches…I layered in mangoes since I had one that was perfectly ripe and just begging to be eaten. The buckle ended up as a cool mix of summer flavors that you can eat hot with ice cream (like a fruit crisp), or cold for breakfast as a coffee cake.

 

Recipe

Servings: 8 big slices

Prep time: 20 minutes + baking

 

Ingredients

Cake

4 tbsps. butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

1 1/2 tsps. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup regular, 1 cup white whole wheat)

1/2 cup milk

1 cup berries, divided (blueberries, sliced strawberries, blackberries, raspberries…)

 

Filling

1 large mango, sliced

 

Topping

4 tbsps. butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1/4 cup shredded coconut

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the cake, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla and coconut extracts.
  3. Next, stir in the salt, nutmeg, and baking powder.
  4. Stir in half the milk, then half the flour, then the rest of the milk and the last bit of flour.
  5. Divide the batter in half and smear onto the bottom of the lightly greased 9″ cake pan (I used my springform cheesecake pan).
  6. Layer the mango slices and half of the strawberries on top of the batter. Mix the remaining strawberries into the rest of the batter and drop in spoonfuls onto the layer of fruit.
  7. For the topping, cut the butter into the rest of the topping ingredients until it resembles large crumbs. Sprinkle over the batter.
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is just browned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coconut dream frosting

Toasted coconutAlmost German chocolate cake frosting, but not quite. That’s how I like to describe my coconut frosting.

Softer and creamier than your standard, sticky German chocolate, toasting the coconut and the pecans is the real secret (well, that and a generous helping of heavy cream).

 

Recipe

Tweaked from 365 Great Chocolate Desserts

 

Ingredients:German chocolate cake

2 1/2 cups coconut

2 cups pecans, chopped

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Dash of salt

 

Directions:

  1. Place the coconut and nuts onto a nonstick skillet (or if the skillet isn’t big enough work in batches). Bring the skillet to medium-high heat, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon occasionally to avoid burning, about 3 minutes. As soon as the coconut begins to turn color on the ends, remove from heat. Allow the coconut to cool on the pan–it will continue to toast as it cools.
  2. Mix together the powdered sugar and cornstarch and then pour into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
  3. Whisk the heavy cream into the powder sugar mixture until blended; bring the cream to medium-high heat, whisking vigorously.
  4. When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from heat.
  5. Stir in the toasted coconut and pecans.
  6. Cool to room temperature before using to frost cakes, cupcakes, or for mini-parfaits.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how to use this yummy frosting to make mini German chocolate parfaits that are perfect for Mother’s Day.

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Why aren’t you eating…coconut peanut butter?

coconut peanut butterI came across Earth Balance coconut peanut butter a few weeks ago at our local health food store and our house hasn’t been without it since. My teen likes to dip fresh or dried banana slices into the creamy variety or she spreads it on a pita for a quick breakfast.

 

I haven’t made my peanut butter cookies with it yet. But I’m thinking it would be great in Thai dipping sauces and stir fries too.

 

Besides the amazing flavor combo that is coconut and peanuts, I liked what I saw on the label: for the same serving, two tablespoons, regular peanut butter has 150mg of sodium while the coconut variety has only 95mg–that’s quite a salt savings (and my kids will never miss it). I haven’t seen the coconut peanut butter in any other brand than Earth Balance; I found it at Mustard Seed Market here in the greater Cleveland area, but you might be able to find it at your local store that carries organic foods.

 

Your turn: Are you a peanut butter fan? And if so, would you like a little coconut mixed in?

Banana slices and peanut butter

 

 

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Sweetened vs. unsweetened coconut

Photo credit: Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Coconut

Have you noticed how your fingers feel sticky after handling sweetened coconut? Me too.

You might also have picked up on the biting, saccharine after-taste sweetened coconut tends to leave in your mouth. In the past, I’ve usually used sweetened coconut in recipes for two reasons 1) I couldn’t find unsweetened coconut at the grocery story and 2) sweetened coconut goes on sale for killer deals.

But I’ve turned a coconut corner. Lately I’m opting for unsweetened coconut–I find the flavor and texture are much more appealing.

What’s the difference between unsweetened and sweetened coconut?

As the name implies–it’s sugar! Sweetened coconut lays on the sugar to keep the coconut shreds soft while giving it a longer shelf life than the unsweetened variety. Take a look at the sugar content in a sweetened package (my bag at home had a higher sodium count than the figures I found online)–per serving (2 Tbsp) it has 5 grams of sugar and a whooping 60 mg of sodium. With unsweetened coconut, a serving (3 Tbsp) has only 1 g of sugar and 5 mg of sodium. What a difference.

What about baking with unsweetened versus sweetened coconut?

You’ll find that unsweetened coconut is drier than sweetened when you bake with it. You can up the moisture in unsweetened coconut by either adding a little water to the shreds before using it or if your recipe is moist enough (like with muffins), don’t worry about it. I often add coconut into a blender with other ingredients anyway so I don’t notice my cookies and muffins turning out any drier. BUT most coconut macaroon recipes do call for sweetened coconut. That’s probably the one recipe where unsweetened just won’t work.

Where do you find unsweetened coconut?

It used to be I could only find unsweetened coconut around the holidays–the checker at Trader Joe’s once told me it’s considered a “seasonal ingredient.” Humph. You can order it online from King Arthur but I’ve found many organic grocers carry it year round with other Bob’s Red Mill products. Now for it to go on sale–sorry, it does cost more than the inexpensive bags of sweetened coconut, but it’s so much fresher and tastier.

How about some recipes using unsweetened coconut?

How about my favorite chewy oatmeal cookies (add in 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut to the flour), or triple chocolate coconut banana muffins? I’ve also pulsed unsweetened coconut with panko (Japanese style bread crumbs) to coat pork tonkatsu and coconut shrimp.

Your turn–do you use sweetened or unsweetened coconut, or both?

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Triple chocolate coconut banana muffins

Sometimes my kids won’t eat bananas around our house just waiting for them to get ripe enough so that I’ll make these muffins. I’ve been meaning to pass along this recipe for awhile, but I do the batter just a little bit differently each time–sometimes I mix up the kinds of sugar I use, other times it’s the flours that get tweaked.

But I made a batch this week that was so good I had to pass this recipe along. So if you have some bananas that are getting ripe and you love the combination of chocolate and bananas, these muffins are for you!

Recipe

Ingredients

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 1/2 cups all-purpose, 1 1/2 cups wheat flour)

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (if available, or regular cocoa)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened preferred)

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt

2 eggs

3 ripe bananas

8 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon almond or coconut extract

2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat the bananas until smooth and then add the yogurt, eggs, and extract.
  4. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a glass measuring cup in the microwave (I usually set it for half power for a minute, then stir.)
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the yogurt mixture just until blended.
  6. Gently blend the chocolate-butter into the yogurt mixture, then stir in the mini chocolate chips.
  7. Fill 24 muffin cups 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

*Tweaked from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook recipe for Big Beautiful Muffins.

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Chocolate upside down cake

I’ve been holding back, but now that it’s four days into February I figure it’s time to start talking chocolate.

Okay, you won’t score any presentation points for this cake. But what it lacks in showiness, it makes up in easy prep time—and most important gooey, chocolatey flavor.

I have a hand-written version of this recipe from my mother, even though I don’t ever recall her making it. I wish I did—this would have been my birthday cake request, hands down!

The recipe involves only a few extra steps then when you’re making a regular boxed cake mix. Before you pour the batter into the pan you melt butter with water and add in a little brown sugar. This goes into the bottom of a greased baking pan along with nuts, coconut, chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows. Okay, this cake won’t score any health points either, which is one reason I don’t make it very often.

After the butter the mixins’ are on the bottom of the baking dish, now it’s time to add the chocolate cake batter. That’s it. Well, almost, there’s still a little trick or two after you’ve baked it.

The first time I made this cake I really wasn’t expecting much—I mean it was way too easy and had “dump” in the title. But the cake has quickly become a favorite of my crew. Are you ready for the next reason it’s called “dump”? Once you’ve let the cake cool for 10-20 minutes you put a serving platter on top and then flip the entire cake over so that the chocolate chips, butter, coconut combination becomes a crust on top of the cake. Yeah, you’re mouth is watering now, huh?

Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes + baking time

Servings: 12+

Ingredients

1 ¼ cup water

¼ cup butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup nuts (pecan or walnut)

2 cups mini-marshmallows

1 box chocolate cake mix

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Grease a 9×13” baking pan.
  • Prepare the chocolate cake batter according to the package directions.
  • In a small saucepan, heat together the water and butter until the butter has completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add the brown sugar into the butter mixture.
  • Pour the sugar butter mixture into the baking pan.
  • Sprinkle the remaining ingredients (except the cake batter) onto the bottom of the baking pan.
  • Now pour the cake batter over the sprinkled ingredients.
  • Bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes, but not more then 30.
  • Place a serving dish or cookie pan over the top of the baking pan. Carefully flip the entire cake over.
  • Remove the baking pan. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.
  • *Note that the marshmallows melt into the cake.
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