I first posted this Coconut Cream Cake recipe 6 years ago and have made it several times since. It is always a crowd pleaser, partly because of the meringue topping, all done up like curls that remind me of Phyllis Diller and because it is just delicious. Decadent pastry cream full of coconut layered between coconut cream cake. It just seems to have the right balance of whimsy and sophistication. Liz Banfield is a photographer I have long admired on Instagram and she came over to capture the making and baking of the coconut cream cake. I have the honor of using Liz’s gorgeous photos for this post. I first became familiar with her work when I did a wedding cake she photographed for Martha Stewart. Her work is stunning and she is a delight. (more…)
This is the best chocolate cake recipe I have ever tried and believe me, over the past 20+ years, I’ve tried them all. The dark chocolate cake has a texture that is smooth and rich. The flavor is not overly sweet, because of the intensity of the coffee (you don’t actually taste the coffee, it just cuts the sweet) and the rum (the Devil in “Devil’s Food cupcakes” perhaps?), which make it a great match for cream cheese frosting sweetened with Lyle’s Golden Syrup. (more…)
This is a very tossed-together Black Forest Cake, or, as I like to say, when I am too lazy to bring out the piping bag and tips, it’s RUSTIC. All of the components of the classic German torte without the fuss. This cherry chocolate cake has layers of dark chocolate cake, fresh whipped cream and sweet cherries spiked with Kirschwasser (“cherry water,” or clear sour cherry brandy). These flavors are among the most celebrated combinations in the history of pastry making and yet this cake is often cloyingly sweet, overly fussy and conjures images from my 1970s childhood. Honestly, the version I remember was probably made with Cool Whip, Maraschino cherries and a cake from a box. Don’t get me wrong, that was just fine with me when I was 13. But, now my taste buds always cringe a bit at the thought of those Day-Glo-red cherries, a frozen whipped topping, that tastes like anything but cream, and the cake from a box just can’t compete with my Devil’s food recipe. The swoon worthy homemade version is super fast and easy to put together. (more…)
This is a “German Chocolate Cake,” but instead of the layers of chocolate cake I used a coconut sponge. 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! (more…)
Over the holiday break I traveled with my family to Brooklyn to visit my mother. A little respite from the winter wonderland of Minneapolis. I packed all my on-the-town shoes, in varying degrees of heels for walking through museums, dining out and seeing shows. My husband checked and rechecked the NY forecast and weather.com promised the most we’d see was 1/2-inch of snow, which would melt before it ever hit the pavement. By the end of our first full day in NY there was a complete whiteout and some of the subways were cancelled due to the blizzard. This NEVER happens. Our second day was spent shopping for winter boots, something all Minnesotans have plenty of and do not need to spend our vacations shopping for. But, the snow was now up to the boys’ knees and my suede heels were no longer as chic. The next morning we were quite happily trapped in Brooklyn by the snow. We put on our new boots and forged our way to the only open restaurant for breakfast and then watched movies all day, it was relaxing and felt quite luxurious after working so hard these past months.
The trifle acts as the perfect vehicle for cleaning out your refrigerator/freezer of all those tasty little treats you just had to hang on to. I am guilty of an overstuffed freezer. It must be my pastry chef days of NO waste, ever. It is something I am both proud of and annoyed by, because it means I have dozens, or more, of incredibly well wrapped packages of buttercream, truffles, cake, cookie dough, puff pastry and just about everything else you could ever want. BUT, there really isn’t enough of any one thing to make a full dessert, except trifle. Add some of the frozen berries from last summer, a touch of sherry and rich pastry cream to those too-good-to-throw-out cake scraps and you have a gorgeous dessert and less stuff in your freezer. Not sure why this essential dessert is named trifle, when it is clearly nothing shy of brilliant.
This all came about because I am trying to eat down my refrigerator before we leave for our trip. Next week I take off for Istanbul, Greece and Italy and the contents of my refrigerator will be much less charming when I return in a month. Some things will be left for the house-sitter, but the random packages in the freezer are something I’d rather they read about on my blog than see in real life.
While making this trifle, with a mind of not wasting anything at all, I discovered that I could use the left over egg whites to lighten up my pastry cream, instead of the customary whip cream, which doesn’t really “lighten up” anything. Since the pastry cream uses mostly egg yolks I had the whites just sitting around. Whipped up and folded in, they make the most exquisite textured custard I’ve ever had. This pastry cream recipe is destined for eclairs when I return!