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coconutcreamcake_17_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I couldn’t wait to share this cake with you because I came across a tip that is literally life-changing, thanks to Cooks Illustrated. Apparently if you process heavy cream in a food processor you get frosting – that lasts for days! Who knew?

This is my “When Harry Met Sally” tribute cake because, as you might remember, in the movie Meg Ryan is very particular that her wedding cake be coconut with chocolate sauce. This cake has two layers of coconut cream, with chocolate ganache in the center. You will have enough ganache left over to serve it on the side of each slice. I used finely shredded coconut for this recipe, like this:

Coconut Cream Cake, Makes one 8″ two-layer cake

  • 3/4 c. coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded coconut (plus extra for coating)
  • 2/3 c. softened butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2-1/3 c. cake flour
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • One recipe coconut pastry cream
  • One recipe chocolate ganache

Combine the shredded coconut and the coconut milk. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and the sugar together well.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and the baking powder.

Beat in the half the flour, then half the coconut mixture – repeat.

You should have a thick creamy batter.

Divide it between greased 8″ cake pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch.

Cool the cakes on a rack, lightly covered with plastic wrap. Split the layers in half.

Put one half on a plate and cover it with coconut cream. Top with another cake layer.

Put half the ganache in the middle, between the two cake layers.

Now the magic part! Combine the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in the food processor, with just the blade on.

Process for about a minute, until the cream has thickened.

Now process in 15-second pulses until you have what looks very much like soft-serve ice cream.

Cover the cake with the whipped cream. (Believe it not, it will keep very nicely in the refrigerator for days. I know – I didn’t believe it either. But I tried it and it worked!)

Then with more coconut. I used both finely shredded and the large flakes, just for fun.

Chill thoroughly and serve sliced with the reserved ganache. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.


Four years ago: Migas (Mexican Egg Scramble)
Three years ago: Caramel Apple Cake
Two years ago: Butter Muffins
One year ago: Cheesecake Bars


chocolatecherrycake17_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

The sweet cherries were just in season here. I was thinking about making a black forest cake, but often those can be disappointing with dry cake and not a good ratio of cake to filling. What I was going for was a moister cake, more of a brownie texture. I found what I was looking for in Baking with Jim Dodge. His recipe, which I’ve tinkered with slightly below, uses brandied cherries (which would be delicious) but I was under a time crunch so I used fresh cherries.

Chocolate Cherry Cake, Makes one 8″ cake

For the cake:

  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60%)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk (or 1/2 c. strong coffee)
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt

For the filling:

  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60%)
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. softened butter

2 c. stabilized whipped cream

1 lb. Bing cherries (or another sweet black cherry)

Preheat the oven to 375. To make the cake: combine the chocolate chips and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until melted.

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Set it aside to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.

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Beat in the rest of the dry ingredients.

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Then add the milk. You should have a thick creamy batter.

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Spread the batter in a well-greased 8″ pan. I also dusted mine with cocoa powder before adding the batter, just to be sure it would come out.

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While the cake is baking make the chocolate filling. Combine the chips and cream over medium heat, stir to melted. Then stir in the butter and set it aside to cool (you can speed it up by putting it in the freezer).

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Whip the ganache until it’s light and fluffy.

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Let the cake cool thoroughly. If you have some Kirsch now would be a good time for a sprinkle.

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Wash the cherries, pit and halve them. It’s a messy job, there’s no getting around it.

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Split the cooled cake in two and put it on your serving dish. Arrange the halved cherries on the bottom layer.

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Top the cherries with the ganache and then add the second layer of cake.

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Top that with the stabilized whipped cream. Chill thoroughly before serving.

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Even fresh the cake will cut neatly.

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Store leftovers lightly covered in the refrigerator.

chocolatecherrycake17_little-house-dunes


Three years ago: Cheesecake Ice Cream
Two years ago: Gooseberry-Raspberry Pie
One year ago: Sunday Night Cake with Chocolate Sauce


malakofftorte12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Legend has it this torte came about during the days of the Crimean War, when someone wanted to celebrate a victory but didn’t have time or means to bake anything. Even if you’re battling nothing more than a busy schedule this torte makes a beautiful and impressive dessert.

As it is sort of an Austrian trifle, I put it together in the hour between picking my daughter from dance and getting my son off to driver’s ed. This version is based on the recipe from Rick Rodger’s Kaffeehaus cookbook. Rum is the traditional flavoring but I used mainly sherry because I had it on hand. While it’s not difficult you should read the entire post before you get started, so you know how to time everything.

You do need a ready supply of ladyfingers, either homemade or store-bought like these:

malakofftorte5_little-house-dunes

Malakoff Torte, Makes one 9″ torte

  • One large package of ladyfingers/savoiardi biscuits
  • Light bavarian cream filling (recipe follows)
  • 6 c. stabilized whipping cream for frosting (just 4 c. if you’re not decorating it)

Bavarian cream filling:

2 c. milk

2 egg yolks

1/3 c. sugar

2 pkgs. unflavored gelatin

1 pt. whipping cream

2 T. sherry or rum

Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium heat and beat the egg yolks together with the sugar.

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Whisk some of the hot milk into the egg yolks and whisk it all into the pan on the stove. Put the sherry in a bowl and add the gelatin to let it soften. Microwave it for a few seconds until it dissolves. Then whisk it into the cream.

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Pour the cream into a shallow metal pan and cool it until just barely set. Whip the cream to stiff peaks, and fold in the gelatin cream. Return it to the refrigerator while you get the pan ready.

Heat 1/3 c. of water and 1/3 c. sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Add 1 T. sherry or rum. Open the package of biscuits and quickly dip each one in the sugar syrup then lay it into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan.

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Repeat until you’ve covered the bottom of the pan. Add a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips if you like.

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Then cover the biscuits with half of the bavarian cream.

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Heat 1/3 c. of water and 1/3 c. sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Add 1 t. almond extract. Do another layer of biscuits, then spread the rest of the cream on top.

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Heat 1/3 c. of water and 1/3 c. sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Add 1 T. sherry or rum and one final layer of biscuits on top. Chill the cake for at least four hours (preferably overnight). Then run a knife around the pan and remove the outside ring. You should have a cake that looks something like this:

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Cover the entire cake with the stabilized whipped cream. I just did a crumb layer here because I’m decorating for company! Note – this time I remembered to elevate the cake first!

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I used one of my largest star tips and starting in the middle of each one, I just did loose swirls all over the top and around the sides.

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Keep the cake and any leftovers cold. The flavors blend nicely over a day or two. My son said the cake tastes the way vanilla smells, which is pretty accurate considering all the sherry and almond flavoring.

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One year ago: Apple crisp

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  • Chef's Table (!)
  • Chocolat
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  • Hundred Foot Journey
  • Ratatouille
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  • Master Chef (NPR)
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