Thursday, March 24, 2011

Solving an ingredient mystery
for Cream of Coconut Cake

When I embarked on making Cream of Coconut Cake (click for the recipe) last weekend, the first thing I needed to do was tackle the issues posed by the title ingredient.
   Cream of coconut, according to Wikipedia, is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. It has a thicker, more paste-like consistency.
   I was sure that I have seen cream of coconut in the can, just as the cake's creator, Lauren Chattman, describes in her introduction to the recipe.
   My husband said that may be true, but in his travels in our fair city of Moose Jaw, the closest he had ever seen to cream of coconut was creamed coconut, the dehydrated meat of a coconut sold in waxy blocks.
   After checking a couple of specialty stores and Superstore, it appears my husband was right – creamed coconut was the only thing close to what I required that was available locally.
   I was able to chop the creamed coconut into pieces and reconstitute them with water, resulting in liquid cream of coconut.
   I’m glad I was able to do this, because Cream of Coconut Cake is an absolute delight.
   Coconut flavor-lovers, such as my husband, will be in heaven when they eat it. However, the coconut flavor is nowhere near overwhelming. While it is certainly the highlight of this moist cake, it is at a pleasant level.
   The full title of the recipe is Cream of Coconut Cake with Chocolate-Coconut Glaze. I left off the glaze part of the title for a reason. Although the cake itself is dynamite, the glaze is not.
   After the cake is baked, a glaze of cream of coconut and Dutch process cocoa powder is made and poured on top.
   However, the result is dubious. I found it tinny and chalky tasting, and was more like a frosting than a glaze.
   I’m officially suggesting this to prospective bakers of the cake: Don’t bother making the glaze. The cake doesn’t need it – I could eat around the glaze/frosting and the cake was terrific by itself.
   The cake is extraordinarily easy to make. The recipe I linked to above is the same version I used from the cookbook Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman.
   Butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and optional coconut extract are combined with an electric mixer. A mixture of flour, baking powder and salt is added alternately with ¾ of a cup of cream of coconut.
   The batter is baked in a nine-inch round cake pan, then cooled.
   The cake keeps well for about three days at room temperature.

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