Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Toasted Coconut Cake with Walnuts and Cranberries

Craberries. Walntus. Toasted coconut.  Are you excited yet?  I am!  If these three foods alone don't excite then maybe these three foods combined with cake and buttercream frosting will!  I must say, I am pretty sure this is one of my favorite cakes to date.  I'm an avid cranberry lover.  If that isn't evident then just take a look around and you'll find an aray of recipes that include cranberries.  From sweet to savory, I'm not picky, if it has cranberries you can count me in!

So enough about my fascination with cranberries, lets talk about this delicious cake!  I love this cake for many reasons.  Of course I love it because it's sweet.  It's cake.  It's dessert. What's not to love?  The cake is so light, airy and fluffy but full of so much flavor.  I love cakes like this because you don't feel completely loaded down after you enjoy a dessert.  On top of this light and subtly sweet cake there's the frosting that is lightly flavored by coconut.  This frosting is sweet but not overly rich.  I'm telling you, this is one of the best cakes I've had the pleasure of making.  The lightness of the cake, tart cranberries, walnuts, toasted coconut, and the fluffy sweet frosting are delicious.  It truly was love at first bite!  Another reason I love this cake is the exposed sides.  I love how you can see the frosting, cranberries and walnuts between each layer.  I think it gives it a rustic look but it looks so elegant at the same time.  I honestly could go on and on about how much I love this cake, but I won't keep you anymore beacuse you really should get in the kitchen and try this for yourself!     

Toasted Coconut Cake with Walnuts and Cranberries


For the cake-
2 2/3 Cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 Tsp baking powder
1/4 Tsp baking soda
1/4 Tsp salt
3/4 Cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 Cup sugar
6 Large egg whites
1 1/2 Tsp vanilla
1/2 Tsp coconut extract
3/4 Cup buttermilk

For the filling and topping-
2 Cups cranberry juice
1 1/2 Cups dried cranberries
1 Cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/4 Cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
1/4 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
3/4 Cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 Cup unsweetened coconut milk*
2 Pounds powdered sugar
1 Tsp coconut extract

*Can be found on the Asian food isle.


Place a rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans, set aside.

Place cranberry juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add the dried cranberries and allow the juice to return to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for at least 20 minutes.  Drain any excess juice.

For the cake-
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.  Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the egg whites, vanilla, and coconut extract and mix until incorporated.  Alternating between wet and dry, add the flour mixture and buttermilk in three additions, ending with the buttermilk addition.  Evenly divide the batter among the three prepared pans. 

Place the cake in the oven.  Allow to bake for 18-20 minutes, utnil wooden pick inserted comes out clean.  Remove pans from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pans and place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

For the frosting-
Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until light and creamy.  Slowly add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well to incorporate. Slowly add the coconut milk and extract until combined.  Gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar until fluffy.  (Beat in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if frosting appears to be too stiff or dry)

To assemble-
Place one cake layer on a cake plate.  Spread 1/3 of the frosting over the cake layer and sprinkle with 1/2 of the cranberries and 1/3 of the walnuts.  Place the second layer of cake on the cranberry filling and repeat the frosting process.  Place the third cake layer on the cake and top with the remaining frosting, walnuts and coconut.

Recipe source: Better Homes and Gardens, November 2011

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