Tag Archives: coconut

German Chocolate Cake: Inside-out

My sister celebrated a birthday recently, and since we both believe that sending a card or present across the country for this event is necessary, I’ve been trying to think of other ways to celebrate.  You know — it’s the thought that counts sort of thing.  Two years ago, I posted a tribute to her.  Last year, my husband and I held a candle and snapped a photo in mid, “Happy Birthday to You…” and this year?  I thought I’d make her a cake.

When I first thought of this, I really didn’t think she liked any type of cake, but I asked to make sure.  After all, if someone who doesn’t really enjoy cake is going to have to appreciate a cake they’ll never get to taste, then it should at least seem appealing to them, don’t you think?

Not only did I get a response from her, I got three:  Angel food, German Chocolate, and cheesecake with coffee.  The mention of angel food brought back memories of a cake she introduced me to, and that’s saying quite a bit because my sister doesn’t really enjoy cooking.  So I thought about recreating that cake, but decided to save it for another time.  Cheesecake is something I adore and make several times a year, so I passed on that one quickly.  But German Chocolate cake?

Really?  Call me completely surprised!  My thinking about German Chocolate cake is wrapped in memories of a gooey exterior hiding a dry cake that isn’t chocolate enough.  It always seemed rude that the frosting promised something quite flavorful inside, yet it never lived up to my expectations.  But I seem to be in the minority because no sooner had I begun to mention that I was going to make a German Chocolate cake, that I found out it’s not only enjoyed my many — it’s a favorite.

Another surprise was finding out there’s nothing actually German about this cake.  It’s named after Sam German who created Baker’s Sweet Chocolate.  A Texas homemaker sent the now familiar recipe for German Chocolate Cake to a newspaper in 1957, and General Mills sent the recipe to newspapers all over the country.

My search for the perfect recipe sent me to David Lebovitz’ site first, but after a quick scan of the ingredients listed, I realized I didn’t have buttermilk.  Next stop was epicurious.  I couldn’t get past the idea of what they described as an “inside out” cake.  Evidently, a few people had decided it was a darn good cake since there were 236 reviews, most of which were raves.

The problem I had with that recipe was the Dutch-processed cocoa.  I can’t tell you how many stores I’ve searched in and have just decided to not deal with it anymore.  Yes, there’s a conversion for using regular cocoa, but it’s not advised.  And when it comes right down to it, there are just about as many recipes for chocolate cake out there as there are renditions of German Chocolate cake.

So guess what?  I made it my own, of course.  Sheer chocolate-coconut-dulce-de-leche-almond-crunchy-but-moist heaven.


Happy Birthday Lori!  This is your birthday song — it isn’t very long…

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Pistachio Cranberry Coconut Muffins

Pistachio Cranberry Coconut Muffins

My mother lives in a senior community.  Whatever stereotypes you may conjure up when seeing that particular label, my mother doesn’t fit any of them.  Quite a few of the other residents fit the bill, however.  One of the great features of living in this particular senior community is the ability to have your very own garden plot, and since my mother has an abundance of green thumbs she figured out very quickly how to get one of those plots.  Not only did she get her own garden plot, but she met her Romeo in the process since he had a garden of his own as well.  I can just see them meeting over the Swiss Chard — or maybe it was that he left her a little note under a rock where she would find it while pulling weeds.

Regardless, the romance is months and months new now, and the couple not only has two small gardens, but the largest corner garden in the community which is sure to have a few folks grumbling over the unfairness of it all.  Although many of those who have a garden plot don’t seem to take very good care of them, my mother’s garden is quickly taking shape with a pebbled path made from hand-picked beach pebbles and Objes d’Art sitting here and there.

I’m not always the best of daughters so it’s taken me a while to get in my car and drive the whopping 15 minutes to go and see what will soon be an amazingly beautiful oasis if I know my mother.  To make sure she didn’t smack me around to hard for taking so long to visit, I decided to butter her up with some muffins.

She likes my food, and evidently, so does her Romeo.

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Towering Coconut Mango Cake

6-Layer Coconut Mango Cake

It’s been a longer week than I care to think about with life’s semi-usual highs and lows and in this case, I’d say they were one in the same.  Dealing with bronchitis has kept me out of the kitchen and away from food, so I’ve gotten a break of sorts.  Some break.  But it has allowed me to stay put and finally move my blog to where you’re reading right now.  After much trial and error I was finally able to export the files at my old TypePad site, have them split, then imported here.

I’m nearly almost sort of maybe possibly feeling a bit techish over this.  But only a smidgen.

Each time I do something like this I learn so much:  more about technology, and far more about what my patience can tolerate.  Not once did I throw anything.

So I think cake is in order, don’t you?  A sky high cake layered with creamy tropical flavor and an incredibly moist crumb all slathered in whipped cream and sprinkled with coconut.   But before we get to the cake, can I ask a favor?  Please look to the right sidebar and sign up for a feed.  You can choose to receive my food talk either by reader or email which allows you to enjoy it when it suits you best.

Mmm…cake.  If you’ve been searching for a dessert recipe for a special occasion this Spring, this would be it.

This is a six-layer cake inspired by pastry chef Cynthia Wong’s beauty featured in Food & Wine’s “Last Bite.

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Chocolate Coconut Slices

If I think about it, I’m only a day behind on my production for our 12 Days of Cookies Extravaganza, and that’s not too bad.  If I hadn’t gotten into the kitchen early this morning, I’d be two days behind because no sooner had I popped my latest creation in the fridge, than I was banished outside to keep the dog company.  The nice thing about it was that although a bit chilly in the shade, a clear blue sky and Santa Ana winds helped keep me on task as I trimmed creeping fig from the back wall, raked up the piles I’d created over the past few days, and then settled down on our bench to relax and look at recipes seriously lacking in sugar and butter.  Perhaps by osmosis I might be able to gain from the healthiness, right?   Right, and pigs fly, lady.

I hadn’t originally intended on making Chocolate Coconut Squares, Gourmet’s favorite cookie from 1997 because my husband isn’t too fond of coconut.  Unfortunately, I love it in all shapes and forms, so I decided to treat myself since these require only a short baking time on the front end, and a long refrigeration time.  The most interesting aspect of this recipe was making a custard base to stir into the chocolate before refrigeration.

I’m thinking these are perfect if you’re in the mood for something a little fudge-like, but more creamy, and with a fantastic coconut crust.  I decided they deserved to be partied up a bit by presenting them in wedges and a lace petticoat.

Nice.  IMG_7870

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The Perfect White Layer Cake — Period.

When I read that we would be digging into one of Dorie Greenspan’s cake recipes, I couldn’t resist a smile.  And as I read deeper into the recipe and saw the possibilities, I knew I’d enjoy imagining what could be done with this cake, the Perfect Party Cake: pure white, multi-layered, and frosting that hints of whatever I’d like it to…But then a funny thing happened.

I remembered a photo of a white cake covered with coconut and filled with lemon in my mother’s old cookbook — one that I’d imagined for years would be mine and never was.  My heart was broken.  *sniff*   So I knew I’d most likely stick very close to Dorie’s recipe.  The idea of the lemon and the coconut was more than I could resist, and I just happened to have some blackberry jam.

I’m not like many of the other Daring Bakers I come across, and goodness knows there are about ten trillion of them in FoodLand now.  I’m always in awe of those who hop to each challenge, making it nearly before the web has cooled from its reveal to our masses.  And some bake their hearts out more than once on a challenge, experimenting and diligently learning.  It’s quite admirable.

I usually wait until the last minute.  It’s not because I’m not interested.  FAR from true.  I seem to wallow in all the possibilities, imagining what each challenge might bring.  Clearly I’m a process kind of person.  But I’m proud to say that on this challenge, I actually finished the cake more than a week ahead of time and it’s been burning a hole in my pocket ever since.  Or something like that.
I would trade my world for a piece of that amazing cake right now.  And I don’t just say that about any cake.  This cake was amazing.  Period.  And when I think back on all the Daring Baker challenges I’ve been a part of in the past year, this was the best.  I loved making this cake.  Okay, so peabody’s Strawberry Mirror Cake was a very close second.  But still.

Maybe its wonderfulness was a reminder of childhood.  You know — the long denied poor child whose mother never made that luscious coconut covered cake in the Betty Crocker cook book whose page I can no longer find because it was possibly drooled  on into oblivion.  Of course, I should mention that she gave in and did make the Baked Alaska once, perhaps as a consolation, and most likely because I’d brow beaten her for years over it all.  But the coconut cake….with lemon filling between the layers.  Mmmmm….

I’ll have to ask her why she never made it.  Was it the coconut?  Hmmmm…which finnicky family member may not have liked it and so I was forever denied?

Until now!

So this was my chance.  After all these years, I’d finally get to see what my taste buds would think.  And yes, I do know that after our Lemon Meringue Pie challenge a few months ago, there’ve been quite a few confessions out there about people not particularly liking lemon.  How sad.

It’s such a bright, clean, cheerful flavor.  So fresh.  So…but I do understand, because personally, I’ve never cared for beets. Ugh.  They’re just so…red.  And rooty.  Except when they’re yellow.  But they’re still rooty.  Ahem.

I know.  You’re so over this already and you have 8,000 other blogs to read and all you really want is to see the photos.  You seriously want me to get on with it already.

But it’s my birthday!  Well, actually, it’s my blog’s birthday.  Sass & Veracity was one year old as of March 19th, and so clearly, getting to bake such an amazing cake was perfect!  I can totally tell you’re bowled over with enthusiasm on this news.  w00t?  Think of how difficult it was to not post this cake on my bloggoversary.  I was tempted.  Really, I was.  But the thought of the scandal was more than I could bear, posting ahead of the day…I’m such a rule follower.  Well except for the Lemon Meringue Pie challenge when I cheated on the meringue.

Okay, I’ve blathered long enough.  Credit — tons of it —  for this fabulous challenge choice goes to Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts.  There seem to be quite a good number of happy bakers in FoodLand about now.  Nice.  If you’re interested in the recipe for the Perfect Party Cake, consider purchasing Dorie Greenspan’s Baking:  From My Home to Yours.

And to keep in the spirit of challenge (because this cake was a delight to make) I’ve decided that since having read that Dorie admires a “neat cook” while skimming blogs one day, I vowed to keep my work area and kitchen clean while I was baking to my heart’s content this month just to see if I could.  Although I usually begin in an organized fashion, by the end of whatever I’m cooking, disaster reigns afterward.

I do have to say in my own defense that we celebrated Easter on Saturday and although I did make the cake on Friday, I prepared the frosting and assembled the cake on the same day I was also baking a whole ham, with all the trimmings of a complete dinner and family arriving at about 2 PM. So please, at this point, notice my clean kitchen.  I promise to show you the disaster at the end.

I also decided to experiment a bit with coconut, since I’m a big fan, and this was my chance.  I was prepared with a bag of sweetened coconut, as well as two fresh coconuts just to see what the possibilities might be.

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