Coconut Caramel Cake – Not Quite German!

Coconut Caramel Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This is a “German Chocolate Cake,” but instead of the layers of chocolate cake I used a coconut sponge to create Coconut Caramel Cake. For the longest time I thought the original version was invented in Germany, hence the name. But, it was actually discovered in Dallas, Texas around 1957. A woman shared the recipe with a local newspaper and it became an instant success. The mystery doesn’t end there, because the cake wasn’t named for her either. Her recipe called for “German’s Baking Chocolate” from the Baker’s Chocolate Company. The name of the cake gave credit to Sam German, who created the chocolate. Eventually the possessive apostrophe was dropped from the name, and all the confusion began.

The sticky, gooey, caramel-coconut topping is rich and filled with pecans. Traditionally the cake was served topped with maraschino cherries, but I use chopped dried cherries in the coconut filling instead. The bittersweet chocolate ganache between the layers gives this cake a distinct “Almond Joy” candy flavor.

If you are a traditionalist you should try this with my dark devil’s food cake, it is not the same as the milk chocolate “German’s Chocolate Cake” recipe, it’s BETTER!

You can find an updated recipe for this vanilla bean pound cake in my cookbook Zoë Bakes Cakes.

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Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover

Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake with Blackberries for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

The chocolate lava cake has got to be one of the most popular desserts to ever hit American dessert menus. The story goes that Jean-George Vongerichten created it in New York, sometime in the 80s. Others claim it goes farther back in history and should be credited to the French. Whoever was the first to pull a chocolate cake from the oven too soon, to discover that it was thoroughly baked on the outside and still warm and gooey on the inside, was a genius. Since the 80s nearly all restaurants have created a version of chocolate lava cakes. Some of the recipes, including Vongerichten’s, are not actually flourless, but for Passover it must be. The version I have created is made with bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, butter and egg whites. It is just a touch lighter in texture than many recipes, due to the whipped egg whites. If you need to make the dessert parve (no dairy), you can replace the butter with your favorite margarine or butter substitute, but not oil. These can be prepared a few days ahead, refrigerated and baked just before serving. Read More

Red, White and Blue Bakewell Tarts

Bowl of cherries | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

The June Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart….er….pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge, at first glance didn’t have me all that excited. It is a tart consisting of a simple shortbread crust, a layer of jam and frangipane (almond cream). Bakewell is a classic style of tart I’ve made lots of times and perhaps seemingly dull because I know it so well. But, after a good nights sleep, a cup of coffee and a burst of inspiration, I had renewed longing for the Bakewell tart. It is one of those challenges where you are basically given a blank canvas and told to paint a picture. This tart can take on the personality of the fruit or filling you introduce. I decided to play with many different flavors and add a bit of texture to the filling by adding fresh fruit, that compliments the jam.

In honor of the 4th of July I decided to make Red, White and Blue tarts; Cherry, Coconut and Blueberry. Read More

Maple Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies

Maple Brown-Butter Shortbread Cookies Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

When I was growing up I looked forward to Christmas morning at my Granny’s house. It seemed like magic how I’d go to bed at night and wake up with a stocking stuffed with goodies at the foot of my bed. Later I learned that this was her way of keeping us kids in bed for an extra hour. Smart lady! My Granny had rituals that she never strayed from and one of them was making Christmas cookies. I remember tins of them all over the house. On every table, in every room there would be a different kind of wonderful sweet. I would search all over for my favorite, the maple brown butter shortbread cookies that had a sticky caramel coconut topping and a rich buttery bottom. It always seemed to me there were less of these lying around than the others. It turns out they were my father’s favorite as well and he beat me to the tins.

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