Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coconut Cake

I made this almost a month ago and I'm just now getting around to posting it. So sorry! This cake will make you cry with joy. It is a pleasure. The recipe is Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa).

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beignets (Behn-YAYS!)

My kids were watching The Princess and the Frog for the eleventyhundredth time and Harrison commented that the beignets that Tiana was making looked "reeeeeally good" and asked would I please make them some.  I found this recipe from Paula Deen and was so excited to find out what French Quarter Beignets actually were.  It turns out they're the Utah Mormon version of scones.  I think the dough is probably slightly different, but it's the same idea.  Whatever, dude.  I told my kids we were having gumbo and beignets for dinner and their little hearts exploded with joy.

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • Nonstick spray
  • oil, for deep frying (for authentic New Orleans beignets, use cottonseed oil)
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together.  Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture.  In a seperate bowl, measure out the bread flour.  Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.  Add the shortening and continue to sir while adding the remaining flour.  Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  (Or let your Bosch do all the stirring and kneading, suckas.)  Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray.  Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel.  (I left it in the Bosch with the lid on.)  Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees or heavy pot on medium-high heat.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inc thickness and cut into 1-inch squares.

Deep-fry, flipping constantly until they become a golden color.

After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towel, then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar.

Hold the bag closed and shake to coat evenly. 

Put them in a heart-shaped tin and make new friends.

Makes about 3 dozen, says the recipe.  I halfed it both times I made these and we had at least two dozen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Aaaaaahhhhh...Creamy Mango Smoothies!

This is the perfect after school snack when it's so hot outside that the kids get sweaty just walking home from the bus stop. It's sooo good! It's refreshing, easy and healthy. With only 200 calories, 1 gram of fat, and loaded with vitamins, it really is the perfect snack. We had it for Family Home Evening treat this week.

2 mangoes, seed removed, peeled and chopped (I used canned, I've also used frozen and both work)
2 cups Mango Sorbet (Hagen Daas)
12 oz Fat Free French Vanilla yogurt (Dannon Light & Fit)
1 1/2 cups skim milk, or soymilk

Combine in a blender. Makes 6 servings, although, I could drink the whole thing by myself.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Edible Cookie Dough

1 c. butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp. water
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. chocolate chips

1.  Assemble and premeasure the ingredients.  Set the butter out to soften at room temperature.
2.  Cut the butter into chunks (my favorite word).  Place it and the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on medium until smooth and creamy.
3.  Turn off the mixer.  Add the flour, water and vanilla.  Blend until mixed well.  Add the chocolate chips while the mixer is running.  Continue mixing 15 to 20 seconds until the chips are distributed throughout the dough.
4.  Use a melon baller to portion the dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Place the dough balls in the freezer until firm.  Store in resealable plastic bags and enjoy as a snack.
5.  Make cookie dough ice cream (be still my heart) by blending a softened pint of good vanilla ice cream with 10 to 12 dough balls.  Allow the dough to break up throughout the ice cream.  Store the finished ice cream in the freezer.

Tips and Warnings:
- for a lighter flavor, use half brown sugar and half granulated sugar.
- this cookie dough is NOT suitable for baking.  It does not contain all the ingredients necessary to produce a proper cookie.