The day before we left was my husband's birthday. I made him a cake. Well, I made him six cupcakes and a half a layer cake. I knew we were going to have to eat most of what I made, and give the rest to my parents as payment for taking us to the airport, so... there it is.
Bill loves coconut. He especially loves Almond Joys. Was I going to crush up a bunch of Almond Joys and throw them in a box cake for his birthday? No, sir. I made him an Awesome Almond Joy Cake from scratch.
I looked at a lot of recipes online and in my cookbooks, but none of them seemed coconut-y enough for me. I also noticed that because of my extremely efficient clearing out of the refrigerator before going on a trip ninja stylings, I had exactly three eggs. I was going to have to make half a recipe. (Two and a half eggs is always fun to add to anything!)
The closest recipe to what I wanted came from Ina Garten, so I adapted her Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cake recipe and created a coconutty-almondy-chocolate-chunkity masterpiece. Here's my version of the recipe. (I made half of the recipe shown below.)
Roots And Zest Coconut Almond Chocolate Chunk Cake
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened + more for greasing pan (or use spray like lazy me)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
2 1/2 cups white flour + more for dusting pan
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup coconut milk
4 oz sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chunks (the big guys - not chips)
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter or spray two 9" round cake pans and dust them with flour.
Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition, and scraping down the sides. Add the vanilla, almond and coconut extracts and mix well [Ina's note here was, "The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned." It did. And I wasn't, thanks to her.]
In another bowl mix together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Alternately add these dry ingredients and the coconut milk to the batter in three rounds. Fold in the shredded coconut and chocolate chunks.
Pour the batter into the two pans and smooth the top.
Ina says to bake it for 45 - 55 minutes at 350F. I think that sounds like a long time. When I did half this recipe, here's what happened next:
For my cupcakes, I used the six silicone cups that came with this cook cookbook for kids. I also made one 9" round. The cupcakes took 15 minutes. The one 9" round took 22 minutes.
I used Mark Bittman's Butter Cream Frosting recipe from page 727 of How To Cook Everything. I substituted 1 tsp coconut extract for half of the vanilla in his recipe. I also made the whole recipe for my half cake + 6 cupcakes. Because I'm like that.
Butter Cream Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
6 TBS cream or milk, plus more if needed
2 tsp vanilla extract (again, I used 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp coconut extract for mine)
Cream the butter with an electric mixer.
Gradually work in the sugar, alternating with the cream and beating after each addition.
Stir in the extracts.
If the frosting is too think to spread, add a little more cream, a teaspoon at at time, If it is too thin (unlikely, but possible), refrigerate. It will thicken as the butter hardens.
Layering and Decorating
whole almonds (I toasted mine a little in a dry pan on medium heat for a few minutes)
about 6 oz sweetened shredded coconut
When layering the cake, whether it be a 9" round on top of another 9" round, or half of a single round on top of the other half like I did, let the cake cool completely before frosting it. Smooth frosting on the bottom layer, sprinkle with some of the chocolate chunks, then lay the second layer on. Smooth the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the layered cake.
Press shredded coconut all over the top and sides of the icing.
Decorate with whole almonds and the rest of the chocolate chunks as makes you happy. Let your kids decorate the cupcakes to make them happy.
This cake was really, really awesome.
Happy Birthday, Bill!