Monday, March 29, 2010

Post #10 - Adventures in Birthday Cake Land

Is there any more loving way to show your affection for someone special than cooking them a great meal?  And if it's their birthday, to bake them a delicious cake?  Not to my way of thinking.  And as it was once again that Someone Special's birthday, my first and most pressing question was: what kind of cake? The question was asked and immediately answered without hesitation: "coconut!".  And thus the next question for me, the party planner: would I bake it myself or rely upon the professionals and buy one?  I decided I'd try making it myself.  So what recipe to follow? My challenge was to find a cake recipe which would (a) most importantly, taste good and (b) was within reach of my skills and experience.  Not too complex, not too simple...a delicate calculus of taste, ingredients, memory and mechanics.

We have a bunch of cookbooks but nothing inspirational turned up.  The coconut cake recipes seemed to consist of two pounds of sugary frosting with coconut flakes mixed in.  This sort of thing is not to my taste even if was not my cake.  My friend Mr. Google turned up a lot of similar recipes, but at last I found two which I liked the looks of, a coconut raspberry cake and a coconut chocolate cake.  I put them to the final arbiter and the decision was made: we were going with the Gâteau Choco-Coco!

The gâteau choco-coco recipe comes from a blog by a nice young Parisian lady who runs a sophisticated web site named Chocolate and Zucchini. It's a great place to visit, thank you Clotilde!  I don't know that I would've come across it without searching for a cake recipe, bless the internets and the people who spend their time and energy to share their talents with the world.

The recipe is simple enough.  Here is the list of ingredients:
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 stick, minus 1 tbsp butter, softened
- 1/2 cup fromage blanc or plain yogurt
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, diluted in 4 Tbsp hot water

You also need some parchment paper.

Well, I followed the directions, mostly....I swear I did!  I chose to use 1/2 cup of sugar instead of a full cup.  I probably didn't bake the coconut flakes quite long enough because I was worried about burning them.  I also used unsalted butter, which came out of the freezer and didn't quite defrost all the way, so that it was little grainy after mixing up the ingredients.  But the batter was delicious!  I knew it would be good.

Oddly enough though the cake didn't rise much, and it had kind of an odd texture to it.  And it wasn't until I wrote this entry that I realized why:  I left out the baking powder!  Rookie mistake.  But it didn't really matter, it was still delicious even if a bit weird looking.  I served it with whipped cream made from Highlawn Farm heavy cream and black raspberries and the birthday girl loved it.  A success!

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