Sunday, June 29, 2014

Coconut Layer Cake with Malibu Buttercream Frosting

I turned 30 yesterday. I am 30 years old. I was born in 1984, this is 2014, I am now 30.

The first thing I did to celebrate was to go skydiving. I did that, I survived, I threw up when I landed on the ground because the parachute floats like a gently rocking boat and I got extremely motion sick from it. But it was worth it, because I've been planning to skydive for my 30th birthday for at least 15 years now. (And yes, I'd do it again!)

I also have been planning for years to make Alton Brown's recipe for Coconut Cake. I saw him make it on an episode of Good Eats in 2007 and declared that I MUST HAVE IT for my birthday, but I never did. I was never around people for my birthday who would help me eat a cake made of coconut (because you have to LOVE coconut to love this cake). I never felt like I could make this cake and just eat it myself; I compromised and made other cakes that could be shared by everyone.

NOT THIS YEAR. I'm fucking 30. I can do whatever I want. SO I MADE THIS CAKE. (As it turns out, my gentleman likes coconut and my dad is visiting later this week so I don't have to eat it all alone after all - but I WOULD HAVE.)

So I start collecting the ingredients for Alton Brown's recipe and I discovered that the ingredients call for all home-made coconut products - coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut water, toasted coconut ... all coming from the initial instruction of cracking open a fresh coconut. Hell no. So I modified it! I used canned coconut milk, canned cream of coconut, and some coconut oil for greasing the cake pans. This all worked out fine. OH! And instead of the coconut water, I sprinkled the cake layers with some Malibu coconut rum. It didn't taste boozy AT ALL, but it was perfect.

The other thing is that Alton's recipe (and most of the others on the internet) call for "7-Minute Frosting," which a frosting cooked in a double-boiler and beaten with a hand-mixer. Of all the things I own in my house, I do not have a handheld mixer. I panicked and googled and eventually combined a couple of different recipes to create a buttercream frosting including coconut extract and Malibu. It was perfect. So the recipe I will include for the frosting is MINE! Wow!

So 30 is off to a good start.

cake

Coconut Cake with Malibu Buttercream Frosting
Cake adapted from Alton Brown

For the Cake:
Coconut oil, for cake pan
3 cups cake flour, plus extra for cake pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut cream
8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
4 egg whites
1/3 cup coconut water or about 1/4 cup Malibu coconut rum

For the Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons Malibu coconut rum (or milk)
1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Oil the parchment paper and then flour the pan. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cakes have cooled completely cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers. Sprinkle each layer with some of the rum (or coconut water) using a pastry brush or a spoon. Allow to sit while preparing the frosting.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the coconut extract. Add rum (or milk) as needed until frosting is at desired thickness.

Spread some of the frosting on the first layer of cake, sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut and top with the next layer. Repeat until you reach the top layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spicy Sriracha Grilled Tofu

The other day we wanted to grill, so I found this recipe for grilled tofu to try and got the tofu marinating. But then it started raining so my gentleman made his own dinner and I grilled my tofu on my little Le Creuset grill pan. It's been so long since I busted this beauty out. Maybe I didn't marinate the tofu long enough, but it didn't absorb much of the sauce and wasn't as spicy as I would have preferred. I had it with some rice and broccoli, and it was tasty, just not spicy. I'd like to try this again on the actual outdoor grill sometime to see how it differs.

tofu

Spicy Sriracha Grilled Tofu
Tablespoon via Pinterest

1 cup Sriracha
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

In a medium bowl, combine sriracha, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic powder, black pepper and ginger. Whisk until combined.

Carefully stir a few pieces of tofu into the sauce mixture to coat, then thread tofu onto skewers and set aside. Repeat with remaining tofu and sauce. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours. (Reserve extra marinade for grilling.)

Heat grill or a grill pan to medium-high heat. Cook skewers for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until seared and cooked through, brushing with extra sauce while cooking if desired. Serve warm.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a very busy weekend so I wanted to stick with something easy and simple. I decided to go "back to basics" and make a standard chocolate chip cookie. I'm not sure what makes these cookies different. No white sugar? Maybe a different ratio of butter to flour? No idea, but these make perfectly soft, chewy, delicious cookies. I loved them a lot. I have some extras and I want to make ice cream sandwiches with them, because why not?

Of note: Based on a suggestion in a review, I reduced the oven temperature to 375 and I baked them for 8 minutes. They looked slightly underdone when I took them out, which was the correct thing to do. Slightly underbake them! It's the best!

cookie

Thick, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sunset

1 cup butter (1/2 lb.) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz.)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional, I omitted them)

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans, if using.

Drop dough in 2-tablespoon (1/8-cup) portions, 2 inches apart, onto buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake in a 400° oven until cookies are lightly browned and no longer wet in the center (break one open to check), 6 to 8 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.

With a wide spatula, transfer cookies to racks to cool. If hot cookies start to break, slide a thin spatula under them to release; let stand on pan to firm up, 2 to 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Yield: 28 cookies

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cookie Monday: Pink Lemonade Cookies

These are just so good. They're like a combination of these Strawberry Cookies and the LDS Lemon Cookies, creating what one of my coworkers described as "a little lemony pillow from heaven."

So, the secret is obviously cake mix. And Pillsbury just started making a pink lemonade flavor of cake. You add extra stuff to it - extra lemony flavor - to make it even better, but the cake mix is what makes it so pillowy. Another coworker told me she makes these with carrot cake mix, some grated carrot, and some raisins, which is just so genius it blows my mind. I will try that later this year in the fall, I think. It sounds delicious.

cookie

Pink Lemonade Cookies
Tasty Kitchen

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Zest of 1 whole lemon
1 package pink lemonade flavor cake mix, 18.25 oz size
Granulated sugar, for rolling
Confectioners' sugar, for rolling

Put the butter into a large mixing bowl. Cream the butter until soft and creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until mixture is smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon extract and lemon zest until combined. Add the cake mix and beat just until well mixed.

If the dough is too soft to roll into balls, cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 1-2 hours or until it's easy to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place some granulated sugar and confectioners' sugar into separate bowls.

Roll the dough into 1-inch to 1 1/4-inch balls.

Drop each dough ball into the bowl of granulated sugar and roll it in the sugar to coat completely.

Immediately drop the sugared dough ball into the confectioners' sugar and roll it to coat heavily with the sugar. Rolling the dough balls in the granulated sugar first helps the confectioners' sugar coating not sink into the baked cookies.

Place the dough balls 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets; flatten slightly. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes. DO NOT overbake. Take the cookies out of the oven when they look a little underdone.

Let the cookies cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes, then remove them from the pans to wire racks and cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 2 1/2-3 dozen.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Campfire Cones

So first of all, I want to explained that I haven't done Cookie Monday in a couple weeks - first, it was Memorial Day. Then I was out of town. I will be making cookies this week. The butter is already softening on the counter.

Second, I want to show you this fancy cheese plate I made up on Friday, mostly out of stuff from the farmer's market - nice bread, berries, some stilton, some brie, some smoked gouda, some weird cheese rubbed with coffee (it was not good), olives, gherkins, honey, balsamic vinegar, and crackers. I put it all out on the porch Friday night and my gentleman and I just sat around eating it for awhile. It was lovely.

cheese

Now I will tell you about a "recipe" I tried recently. My gentleman and his bestie went camping a couple of weeks ago and I am a loser so I sent them with a tasty treat. My instructions were: Open the foil, squish in some banana pieces, rewrap the foil, throw into the campfire. They did that, and apparently the results were delicious.

cones

My gentleman got a little overzealous with the banana but whatever. These are little cones you fill up with magical goodness, enclose in foil, and cook in a campfire. What you end up with is a portable, self-contained snack that isn't as messy as a s'more. If we go camping in the near future, I will make these again. They're pretty cute. (Note: I left out the peanut butter because that wasn't conducive to me preparing them in advance, but if I took them camping again, I'd take some of those little individual PB packets with me.)

Campfire Cones
Come Together Kids
(LOL, yes, I got this from a parenting website)

Sugar cones
Peanut butter
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Bananas
Aluminum Foil

Chop up the bananas and get some marshmallows and chocolate chips ready.

Spread some peanut butter on the inside of the cone, then put in the bananas, marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Wrap the whole cone in aluminum foil, then put in over the hot coals for 5-10 minutes or so, turning every so often.

Unwrap your cone to see that everything's ooey, gooey, and melted.