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Sunday is Easter and along with the new Sunday duds and egg hunts, families will gather around the table once again for a holiday meal.
After attending church to celebrate the resurrection, my family typically gathers at my mom’s house for our big feast.
Along with the ham, deviled eggs and other treats, there usually is a table full of desserts.
As with any holiday celebration, desserts can be part of the meal and decorative elements coordinating with the holiday theme.
My favorite thing to do is make a coconut cake and decorate the top like it’s a lawn full of Easter eggs. It’s a simple way to dress up this dessert.
For the cake, I used a southern coconut cake recipe. It worked great but the cake layers didn’t rise very well in my oven. But then again, my cakes rarely do. It could be because I have a 100-pound Labrador walking around the house jarring the oven as the cakes are trying to rise.
It’s a good thing a cake is judged more by how it tastes rather than how tall it rose, and this cake tasted great.
I didn’t want to use the cream cheese frosting given in the recipe so I used a different buttercream frosting recipe. Where it called for vanilla flavoring, I substituted coconut flavoring.
After baking and frosting the cake, the decorating began. The sides of the cake are covered with traditional unaltered shredded coconut. I used green food coloring to tint enough shredded coconut to cover the top of the cake. The green coconut then looks like a grassy yard.
Then, I placed jelly beans on the green coconut to look like Easter eggs waiting to be found. The pastel speckled jelly beans look best, but if you can’t find them, any jelly beans will do.
The result is a cake that not only tastes great but can be used to decorate the table.
I made the cake from scratch but not everyone has the time or ingredients on hand to do that. Along with the coconut cake recipe I used, I’ve also included a recipe using a cake mix for an easier cake.
Enjoy this festive dessert and have a blessed Easter.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@ thenewsenterprise.com.
Three-Layer Southern Coconut Cake
5 large egg whites
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups of cake flour
2 1/3 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (8 ounces) at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 1/2 cups of sweetened flaked coconut for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottom of each pan with a parchment circle and butter the circle.
Put egg whites in a bowl and whisk slightly. Add milk and vanilla and whisk to mix thoroughly; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, beat dry ingredients well to break up any lumps. Add butter and coconut milk on low speed and beat just to combine. Raise speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add egg white mixture to batter in two or three additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Divide the batter among the pans.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake taster inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then turn out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on an 8-inch cake round. Cover layer with 1 cup of the buttercream frosting spreadying evenly to the edge of the cake. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded coconut on top. Add second layer and repeat the process. Top with the final layer of cake and frost top and sides.
Cover top and sides with shredded coconut, pressing it into cake. Set the cake on a serving plate and sprinkle any remaining coconut on top of cake. Chill cake for at least one hour to allow frosting to firm up a bit.
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
12 ounces cream cheese, slightly chilled
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons butter (7 ounces) unsalted, at room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar,
sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 egg whites
Place cream cheese in mixer bowl and beat at medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth. Add butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until smooth. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature while buttercream is made.
Combine granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the softball stage, 228 degrees, on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, place egg whites in mixer bowl. When syrup is ready, turn mixer on medium-low and begin mixing egg whites. Slowly add hot syrup to the whites, taking care not to pour onto the beaters; it might splash. When all the syrup is incorporated, increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat egg whites until mixture has cooled and stiff meringue forms.
With the mixer on low, begin adding cream cheese mixture by the spoonful. When all is incorporated, increase mixer speed to medium and whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks butter at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
Cream butter until light and fluffy, at least three minutes.
Gradually add sugar, about a half cup at a time. (If you add too much you will be wearing it. So will your counters and your ceiling. It will be pretty thick.)
Add vanilla or whatever flavoring you are using.
Add two tablespoons cream and beat frosting for a few minutes. If the frosting it too thick, add a little more cream until you get the consistency you like.
Easy Coconut Cream Cake
1 package white cake mix
1 3.4 ounce package coconut cream instant pudding and pie filling
4 large eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 can vanilla frosting
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
For cake, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil in large bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer until moistened. Beat at medium speed for two minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup coconut. Divide into pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 32 to 37 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool following package directions.
Fill and frost cake. Sprinkle with remaining coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve