Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Triple Threat: Chocolate, Coconut, and Raspberry Cake

Triple threat: chocolate, coconut and raspberries. Three awesome flavors- married into one lovely confection.

This cake was in celebration of the in-laws birthdays. They're one year and one day apart which is kind of wild. It was a struggle to think of a cake would compliment both their tastes. He's a carrot cake kind of guy; she a chocolate lover. Not exactly the same flavor profiles. Carrot chocolate cake? Yeck! 

Part I: chocolate. Let's face it, carrot cake can only go in one direction whereas chocolate is flexible and resourceful. This recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa and has received nothing but rave reviews. It was impossible to ignore and brought back memories of SixOneSeven's Crazy Chocolate Cake. Her blog has since closed but fortunately, I jotted down the recipe! I would love to make these two recipes at the same time and have a "cake-off!"

The texture of the Contessa's cake is ridiculously airy and moist. It's madness. I love the dark, rich chocolate- compliments of high quality unsweetened cocoa. Yum! The ingredients are basic and it's easy to make. The cake pan is 8-inch rounds instead of the usual 9-inch. If you don't have the 8-inch, don't sweat it- just watch your baking time. It comes out pretty thick and that extra inch may actually be a good thing. 

Part II: coconut. A smart resource that I like to use on special occasions is Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. There's an amazing coconut cupcake that's always lingered in my thoughts. I decided to use the frosting from this recipe as an homage to their Hawaiian fever. My hubby is an "army brat" and was born in Hawaii so anything Polynesian catches their attention. With the sweetened, coconut shreds- it kind of looks like a carrot cake and has that same smooth texture. Plus, who the heck doesn't like coconut?

There is a key component to making this frosting: coconut pastry cream. It's essentially shredded, unsweetened coconut, steeped in half and half, and then thickened with egg yolks. Cool down time is at least 1 hour so make the pasty cream ahead of schedule.

For the actual frosting, watch out! The first time I tried to make a frosting from Baked, it was a disaster. This is a stove top frosting so you can't walk away. There's a good 20 minute on the stove and additional cool down time in the mixer. Remain calm when you're mixing- it feels like it will never come together into a solid frosting! Then after a good 10 minutes of begging the mix to DO SOMETHING- it's magically silky and knock your socks off fancy

Part III: raspberries. They're here for pure aesthetics and flavor! These ruby berry beauties add a splash of color and balance to the sweetness with a hit of tart. I used them as a topping decoration as well as in the middle. The middle is a little leftover coconut pastry cream (about 2 tablespoons) mixed with fresh raspberries and dash of lemon zest. That's it! Honestly, you don't even need the pastry cream- this can work with only smashed berries. Make sure that the outer ring of the frosting is a little higher to create a barricade from any juices leaking out. 

With their powers combined, this cake made a great impression. It was just as pretty as I hoped with the dark interior and snowy white exterior. At first, it was subtle and simple but as the night progressed- I kept finding myself sneaking little bites. My favorite part is the frosting (so long as I didn't think about the amount of butter involved). Over all, it's a very polished and sophisticated confection that I would enjoy serving again! 

Triple Threat: Chocolate, Coconut, and Raspberry Cake

Chocolate Cake
Note: recommends 8-inch round pans; don't forget parchment paper to prevent sticking- it's very moist! The cake can be made a day in advanced.

Coconut Pastry Cream
Base of Coconut Frosting- see Coconut Frosting recipe below
Note: halve the pastry cream recipe so you don't have a bunch left over; note the pastry cream takes at least 1 hour to chill.

Coconut Frosting
Sweetened coconut flakes (garnish)

Raspberry Filling
12 ounces raspberries
2 tablespoons left over coconut pasty cream (optional)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

In a bowl, combine 6 ounces of raspberries, confectioners sugar, and lemon zest with left over coconut pastry cream. Smash with the back of a spoon until chunky. Reserve the leftover raspberries for decorating.

//To assemble, frost the first layer of chocolate cake with the coconut frosting. Create a shallow "well" on top, with the frosting higher on the outer-parameter of the cake to ensure the raspberry filling does not leak. Add the 2nd layer of the cake. Frost lightly to create a crumb coat (rough draft that catches the dark crumbs) and place the cake in the fridge/freezer for at least least 15 minutes to firm up. Return the frosting to fridge to keep it's form.

Once the frosting has firmed up a bit, finish frosting. Press shredded, sweetened coconut on the outside ring of the cake. Decorate the top with raspberries.