Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Pecan Cake

Coconut lovers, pay attention!  This is a moist, yummy cake with a custardy-coconut filling and chocolate ganache topping.  About eight years ago, I dragged my Mom to a local cooking store for some cooking classes. This one comes from a dessert class, and is more on the difficult side to prepare.  Not too tricky, but quite a few steps.  We made it for one of Mom's high school reunion luncheons, and it got rave reviews. The store has since closed but lucky for us, I am a pack rat and don't throw away great recipes! I also listed things in order of the way I do them, step by step.  That's just the way I roll. Isn't it pretty?

Chocolate Coconut Pecan Cake
Step 1:  Make Coconut filling.  (This can be done a day or so in advance, and refrigerated.)
  3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  5 Tablespoons softened butter
  2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  1/4 tsp. coconut oil (not extract)
  1 cup shredded coconut

In a sauce pan, combine milk and butter over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring continually.
Temper the egg yolks and add to the milk mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes until it becomes the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut and oil. Cool completely and refrigerate until needed. If made in advance, let sit at room temperature until spreadable.

Step 2:  Toast and cool 3/4 cup of pecans. On another tray,  toast 2 cups of shredded coconut and set aside.

Step 3: Make the cake!
   2-1/4 cups white flour
   1 tablespoon baking powder
   3/4 teaspoon salt
   1 cup shredded coconut, packed
   1 cup butter, room temperature
   2 cups sugar
   4 eggs
   1/4 teaspoon coconut oil
   9 oz coconut milk
Finely grind the cooled pecans with 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Combine with 1 cup of packed coconut. (Not the toasted stuff... that is for later...) and set aside.  I used my little food processor to grind the pecans.

Sift together: flour, baking powder, and salt, and place in a medium bowl. Add pecan/sugar/coconut mixture. Next, in a mixer bowl, beat butter and 2 cups of sugar just until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs and coconut oil. Add flour mixture ALTERNATING with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the flour. Divide between 2- 8" or 9" greased and floured pans. (I like 8", myself.)

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove and cool completely.

Step 4:  Make the ganache!
1-1/2 lbs  semi-sweet chocolate (good quality)
2 cups of heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan, bring cream to boil and set aside. In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Slowly add cream. Whisk until smooth.  Pour into separate bowl and let sit until room temperature.

(Sorry this is an ugly pic... but you get the idea, right?)

I am drooling, now!

Step #5: Assemble the cake!
Spread filling between layers. (Tip!  I put parchment under the cake in sections, to keep my cake plate clean.)

Top cake with ganache.  Garnish sides with coconut, and remove parchment.

Eat your heart out!

I am NOT a professional, but I think Mom would be proud! 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grandma Bailey's Fry Bread

Crisp and tasty and WAY better than the junk you get at the fair, Grandma's Fry Bread is delicious and so versatile!  You can top these little breads of goodness with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, honey or all three for a tasty breakfast or dessert. You can also make them a little bigger, and top them with beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes... you name it... for a yummy -and cheap- "Navajo Taco" dinner. My Uncle Bud remembers Gram making them for breakfast when he and Mom were little. We had a fun time making (and eating) them when he and my Aunt Lorie visited this weekend.  Good times!

Grandma Bailey's Fry Bread
4 cups of flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup dry, powdered milk
2 cups water
Mix dry ingredients. Add water. Mix with hands, adding more flour if necessary. Pinch off pieces of dough & flatten with hands. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Heat 1 cup of oil or shortening in a heavy skillet or pot to about 375 degrees. The oil should be about 1" deep or so. Pat down dough again into large or medium circles about 1/4 in' thick. (I am a cheater, we used a floured rolling pin.)

Brown on both sides in the hot oil. Drain. (I used a small pot so I wouldn't have to use so much shortening.) We just fried them one at a time.)

Again, you can top these lovelies with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, or honey for a sweet treat.  Or you can make it a meal by using it for a base for beans, cheese, even shredded beef.

Makes 2 dozen- 5" rounds, but we halved the recipe yesterday, and it worked great.  A half recipe made 9 of these 6" babies, which was perfect for an afternoon snack! 

Em had fun cooking with Uncle Bud!!

When I taught 4th Grade.. (oh... 10 years ago???) ... Mom and I made up the several batches of the dough, rolled it into 150 balls and covered them with greased wax paper. The next day I took them to school for Arizona Day.  We had a fry bread station and let the kids flatten them and Mom helped with the frying. They loved it!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mrs. Tomasi's Playdough

Two doors down we had a neighbor, Mrs. Tomasi.  She always had neat things for us to do.  One of my favorites, was making Playdough.  This is her recipe.  I have jazzed it up a bit by adding glitter and using the Kool-aid packs*, but I think she'd approve!

Playdough Recipe
Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until mixture begins to pull away from pan:
     1 cup flour
     1 Tablespoon oil
     1/2 cup salt
     2 teaspoons cream of tartar
     1 cup of water

Add food coloring, or powdered Kool-Aid and knead.  I like the Kool-Aid.  It is easy to pour, and makes the dough smell good, too.  Knead in some glitter, too if you like!  

Look how bright the colors are!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New York Cheesecake

Who doesn't like a creamy, yummy cheesecake? One of two of Mom's cheesecake recipes, this is one is easy to prepare, and yields a result that I think rivals many restaurant cheesecakes.

New York Cheesecake
     1 cup graham cracker crumbs
     1/4 cup sugar
     1/4 cup melted butter

Blend together in a small bowl, and press in the bottom of an 8" un-greased spring-form pan.

     1-1/2 cup sour cream
     1/2 cup sugar
     2 eggs
     2 teaspoons vanilla
     1 pound cream cheese, broken into small pieces
     2 Tablespoons butter, melted

     Blend the sour cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a food processor*  for 1 minute.  Add the cream   cheese. Blend until smooth. Pour butter through the top of the machine, and blend.

 Pour into the spring-form pan.

     Bake in the lower third of a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. When baking is finished, remove from oven, and turn oven over to broil.  Broil the cheesecake just until top begins to show attractive spots of brown.**

     Refrigerate 4 hours, preferable overnight, before serving.

*I highly recommend you use a food processor with the metal blade attachment.   I have made it in my Kitchenaid, but even with the paddle attachment, it seems to still whip in too much air, and the consistency isn't quite the same.
**The broiling is optional, but it adds some color.  You could also use a chef's torch, if you have one.