Monday, April 18, 2011

RHC: Southern (Manhattan) Coconut Cake with Silk Meringue Buttercream

Southern (Manhattan) Coconut CupcakesWe're winding down with the Heavenly Cakes bake-along, with only 4 weeks, and cakes, after this one. That includes 2 free choice weeks to bake things Marie has done but we haven't, and that will get me caught up completely if I dig out my notes on the one baked-but-not-blogged cake on my list. That is, unless I decide to make one or more of the wedding cake recipes in greatly cut-down form. After a break from weekly cakes.

This week it's another coconut cake. The base is a white butter cake using coconut milk mixed with egg whites for the liquid, and with coconut extract added to the batter to intensify the flavor. I actually found the elusive natural coconut extract this time, too, and I do think it was more potent than that ancient bottle of the artificial stuff in my pantry. Southern (Manhattan) Coconut Cupcakes(I found it at Rainbow Natural Foods, which apparently also sometimes has the marionberries I couldn't find.) I did another half recipe of the cake and decided to go with cupcakes this time. No special notes about the baking of the cupcakes except that I still have not figured out how much batter is "2/3 full" and my cupcakes had mushroom tops. Again. Maybe I'll do better with the upcoming cupcakes where Rose supplies the weight in grams for each.

Southern (Manhattan) Coconut CupcakesIt's the frosting that is the killer on this recipe, another multi-stage production including (shudder) Italian meringue. First came a thin crème anglaise (a custard sauce, basically) made with more coconut milk. That had to chill. Then the Italian meringue--for my half-recipe it was one egg white's worth, so I used a hand-held mixer and didn't get too much of the sugar syrup on the sides of the bowl. Or left in the measuring cup. Or spread on me or the kitchen counter. The last stage is to beat butter (it is a buttercream...) and add in the crème anglaise until smooth. Smooth. Right. Mine was curdled looking for a while, and I kept working to get the temperature up to the target 70 degrees. Finally got there and the mix got smoother, though it watered out a little bit. In went the Italian meringue, and perhaps because of the earlier temperature adjustment that didn't look curdled. Then it was time for my frozen unsweetened coconut, which the directions say to defrost and towel dry. Mine didn't need a towel--it was very finely shredded and almost desiccated, though not labelled as such. Committed at that point, I just dumped it in instead of reverting to the sweetened Baker's stuff. I made some feeble attempts to color the additional coconut that was sprinkled or pressed into the buttercream for a spring pastels concept, with not very even results.

Southern (Manhattan) Coconut CupcakesTasting results: This one goes in my "perfectly OK, not a standout" group. For other you realize how many people have an aversion to coconut? I've only recently realized this, being one who always liked the stuff. So, sister-in-law and brother passed because it was coconut, as did one of my usual tasters at work and several other people I asked. Older niece passed, maybe influenced by the presence of leftover brownie puddle. Younger niece thought the buttercream too buttery but the cake was fine. Nephew thought the buttercream was great. One co-worker loved the buttercream but thought the cake was uninteresting, another loved the buttercream and said the cake was good, and a third preferred the cake to the buttercream. Let's just call it a mixed reaction.


  1. LOL! Ok..i'm with the rest..i too don't like coconut in cakes..dunno why either..and nobody in my family does too..but i'm curious how it tasted though..

  2. Your tasting results are hilarious! As the day has worn on, the butter flavor is getting more pronounced in the frosting, not less.

  3. Funny how people have such different reactions to coconuts.

    Nancy, I made mine in cupcake form too and the batter is 42 grams for each cupcake got a completely flat top. I usually find with butter/sour cream cakes 40-45 grams for cupcakes got a pretty flat top (just made the lemon poppy seed cake as cupcake and it's around 40 grams too). Try it next time and let me know how it turns out!

  4. Its funny how this cake is all over the place in reaction. Vicki said her frosting is getting butterier but I thought today's taste (2 days later) was a better melding of flavors than yesterday...go figure!

    These would be very pretty cupcakes with the fluffy coconut tops...that is, for a coconut lover!