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Tag: coconut

Saying Bon Voyage: Coconut Mango Cake

As I was saying last week, there are few of life’s circumstances that aren’t improved by cake. Even the kind of crappy things can be made less so with the judicious application of, you guessed it, cake.

Last weekend I again found myself deploying cake to make a bittersweet goodbye a little less bitter and a little more sweet. On Saturday, we bid a fond farewell to a friend moving to Chicago. I’m very sad to see them go, of course, even though it’s for an excellent new job in an exciting new city. Obviously, a cake was necessary. And, while the savories focused primarily on their new home (mini deep dish pizzas, Chicago dogs, etc.), I looked to our friend’s Filipino origins to inspire the bon voyage cake.

With that “tropical” memo in mind, I started with two layers of coconut cake–replacing the milk with coconut milk and folding in some shredded coconut–then sandwiched them around a layer of mango pastry cream. A marshmallow-y seven-minute frosting got coated in more coconut and topped with thinly sliced mango. It looked very pretty and was quite a hit with everyone, even those that got the leftovers the day after!

While the cake itself was pretty rad, with a moist, bouncy crumb and a distinct but not overpowering coconutty-ness, I was not super thrilled with the mango pastry cream. It was a lot of work for not a lot of payoff. Mango just seems like one of those flavors whose potency wanes dramatically the further you get from the raw fruit. Maybe steeping the peels in the milk would impart some of their sharp, jungly funk, but I’m going to recommend a passionfruit curd filling instead. That’s a flavor that holds up, and would be really great with the cake and fresh mango topping.

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Ecumenical Party Dept.: Vietnamese Passover Macaroons

Mr. T. and I went to a “Seder” last-last weekend. While a lovely event, it wasn’t QUITE the real thing though, and not just because it was a week behind schedule. There were pork and shrimp spring rolls next to the kugel and gefilte fish, and the only bitter thing there might have been me (I kept missing the latkes). Given that our host and hostess were Vietnamese- and Jewish-American, the menu makes a bit more sense–even if it was an evening of tasty syncretism that would make the more Orthodox blanch in horror.

That’d be a shame, though, as everything was really tasty. Ok, almost everything was really tasty. The gefilte fish was… edible. And, given it’s peerless provenance, I can only shudder at the thought of rank and gefilte fish. Ech. Nevertheless, the guests demolished 10lbs of toothsome brisket, stacks of matzo schmeared with chopped liver and charoset, and fastest to dissapear were the fleets of spring and garden rolls handmade by the host’s mom and aunties. And, in an impressive feat of group adventuresomeness, even the gefilte fish got eaten.

In talking to the hostess in the week before the party, I’d offered to bring sweets–after convincing her that a) there was going to be enough food and b) kugel was going to be waaaay easier to serve at a cocktail Seder than tiny shots of matzo ball soup. The obvious choice, even for a shiksa goddess such as myself, was coconut macaroons. I also included tiny bite-sized versions of my favorite flourless chocolate torte, but more on them later.

For the macaroons, I turned of course to Rose, whose christmas cookie book (ironically) has a lovely recipe for coconut macaroons… that started out with baking a whole coconut and then shredding it by hand. *sigh* Rose, Rose, I love you, but I am NOT dealing with a whole coconut. Speaking from experience, the blood and broken crockery just isn’t worth it.

So, stepping back from that whole Robinson Crusoe ordeal, I elected to mix sweetened and unsweetened coconut and add a judicious tot of rum to the traditional sweetened condensed milk that binds it all together. Still sweet, but not throat-closingly so, they were met with serious acclaim at the party, with far better Jews than I calling them the best macaroons ever. I’ll take it.

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