Tag Archives: Coconut

Banana Coconut Cream Cake

When I was growing up, our family’s favourite dessert was Sara Lee Banana Cake. We never even bothered defrosting it. Just ate it straight from the freezer. Someone, not mentioning any names here, would even pick off the frozen cream cheese frosting and leave the cake bare naked and shivering in the freezer. I have since graduated to homemade banana bread and cake, but I never could quite get the texture to be the same as Sara Lee.

My favourite dessert as an adult is Coconut Cream Pie. Not just any coconut cream pie. The very best is in Toronto, at Sacaramouche Restaurant. I got this idea in my head of doing a mashup of these two desserts. I’d fill three layers of banana cake with coconut cream pie filling and then smother the whole thing in cream cheese frosting.

The first time I attempted this concoction, the cake batter curdled in the oven. I’m not quite sure what happened. It ended up in the garbage. The second attempt resulted in cake layers that were too soft and fell apart when I tried to stack them. It tasted good but looked like crap. And then I remembered this banana cake and tried again.

This is now my new favourite dessert. The banana cake is moist, but dense enough to handle the weight of the silky coconut cream pie filling. The tangy cream cheese frosting balances all the sweetness from the cake and filling. It’s perfection.


Start with the coconut cream pie filling, as it needs to chill in the fridge for several hours. You could even make this a day or two in advance. Basically you are making a coconut custard.
As long as you remember to temper the egg yolks, all will turn out perfectly. This involves pouring a little bit of the hot milk-coconut milk mixture into the egg yolk-sugar mixture, before putting it back on the stove to thicken.
Make sure your bananas are very ripe before mashing.
I baked the cake in three 6-inch pans for a tall majestic cake. You could also bake it in three 8-inch pans for a shorter but equally delicious cake.
Assembly of the cake is where you need to take some care. This cake is very much like a teenager. You need to set boundaries or she will run amuck! Before spreading the coconut cream pie filling on the layer, pipe a border of cream cheese frosting. This will contain the filling and prevent it from oozing out of the side of your cake.

 

Click here to print recipe for Banana Coconut Cream Cake.

 

 

Banana Coconut Overnight Oats


When I was growing up, oatmeal meant Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal in the package. We had an instant hot water tap, (the water never really got all that hot) so there wasn’t even any cooking involved. My mom would buy the variety pack, but my sisters and I only liked the maple and brown sugar, and I think we probably added extra maple syrup and brown sugar. My poor dad got stuck eating the unwanted apple cinnamon flavour. I recall that the dried apples always got stuck in your throat.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years and, “We’ve come a long way baby.”Now I’m eating oatmeal made with steel cut oats that you actually have to cook!

So, a little oats primer here. Whole oats, that have been cleaned and hulled, are called groats. They are a little too coarse for oatmeal. Groats that have been coarsely chopped are known as steel-cut oats (bowl on the left). Groats that are steamed and pressed are called rolled oats or old-fashioned oats (bowl on the right). Instant oats are pre-cooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats.Steel-cut oats have a wonderful nutty taste and chewy texture, but they take 40 minutes to cook, and who has time for that? Enter the overnight method. I learned how to make these from those clever folks over at Cook’s Illustrated.

Bring 3 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt to boil. Please don’t omit the salt. Your oatmeal will taste flat and lifeless. Take pot off heat, stir in 1 cup of steel-cut oats , cover pot and let sit overnight while you sleep. In the morning add 1 cup of coconut milk, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until oats are softened but still retain some chew and the mixture thickens slightly. This will take about 5 minutes. Cover the pot and let sit for 5 more minutes. The oatmeal will continue to thicken as it rests.

Mix in sliced bananas, shredded coconut and vanilla extract. Top with banana chips for some added crunch.


Mornings got a whole lot better around here. Stay tuned for an apple-cinnamon version with maple syrup!

Click here to print recipe for Banana Coconut Overnight Oats.

Hummingbird Cake

One SliceI made this cake to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday. Sadly, he will have to enjoy this cake vicariously, from his perch in heaven, as he died in 1999. Some may find this a bit macabre, but those who knew my dad understand that enjoying life vicariously, through others, was ingrained in his being. He got great pleasure and joy from other people’s good fortune.one slice 2Hummingbird cake is a classic Southern dessert, with Jamaican roots. The glorious trifecta of banana, pineapple and pecans meld into a moist dense cake that, once filled and frosted with a cream cheese frosting, could drive a sane person just a tad crazy. I added some unsweetened coconut to the batter because, well, coconut! All you coconut haters can leave it out. You won’t hurt my feelings. I used coconut flakes, but for a less chunky texture, you could use shredded coconut.

This cake recipe is adapted from Bobbette and Belle’s recipe for Hummingbird cupcakes.  ready to bakeNo one is quite sure how this cake got it’s moniker. Some theorize that because the cake is so sweet, loaded with sugar and fruit, that it would naturally attract hummingbirds. Others posit that the cake is so delicious, it makes people hum with happiness, like a bird.cakes coolingassembling cake 1assembling cake 2To decorate the cake I used a #8 Wilton tip to pipe a string of “pearls” around the top and bottom of the cake. I tied some gold ribbon around wooden skewers to create little flags and staggered the heights in the cake.cake and milk

Click here to print recipe for Hummingbird Cake.

Two slices

Spicy Chicken and Rice with Coconut-Cashew Crisp

Any time I can put a crisp topping on something and call it dinner is a great night in my house. ready to eat 1This dish is inspired by a a recipe I had seen in the Spring Issue of the LCBO Food and Drink Magazine. I switched up the protein from shrimp to chicken, and made my own piri piri sauce, because I couldn’t find any ready-made at the supermarket. peppersThe sauce uses a mix of sweet bell peppers combined with a hot peppers. Above is the selection of peppers available at my local supermarket. I used the fresno pepper, around the same heat level as a jalapeño. Serrano peppers are hotter and habaneros are super hot. Here is the Scoville scale, which rates the heat of various peppers. The heat in peppers resides in the seeds and white ribs of the pepper, so remove them if you want to temper the heat. If  pain-searing heat is more your jam, like my sister Bonnie and niece Kailey, then go ahead and use the entire pepper.

I marinated some diced boneless skinless chicken thighs in the sauce. While it was marinating, I cooked up a pot of jasmine rice and prepared the crisp topping. Unsweetened coconut, salted cashews and Rice Krispies make up this topping. Coconut oil is the glue that holds everything together. I love having breakfast for dinner.crisp topping ingredientsYou could make this in a large casserole dish, but individual mini serving dishes are more fun. Any oven-proof vessel that holds around 2 cups will work. I used my little cast iron pans. Once the rice is cooked, add some frozen peas and corn. No need to thaw. A bed of fragrant fluffy Jasmine rice creates the first layer.bottom layer of riceMarinated spice chicken goes down next. Pour in any extra sauce from the marinating bowl.middle layer of chickenFinish with a blanket of coconut, cashew crisp topping. ready for ovenHalf an hour in the oven is perfect to cook the chicken and crisp up the topping. Top with cilantro and a squirt of fresh lime.ready to eat 2

Click here to print recipe for Spicy Chicken and Rice with Coconut-Cashew Crisp.

dig in

 

Healthy-ish Salted Almond Joy Bars

all dipped 2While these home-made almond joy bars aren’t exactly healthy, they are healthy-ish. It’s all a matter of degree. Consider the ingredients in a store bought Almond Joy:

Corn Syrup, Milk Chocolate (Milk Chocolate, Contains Sugar, Coca Butter, Chocolate, Milk, Lactose, Milk Fat, Nonfat Milk, Soy Lecithin, An Emulsifier), Coconut, Sugar, Almonds, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oils, Whey, Cocoa, Salt, Vanilla, Chocolate, Egg Whites, Soya Lecithin, and Sodium Metabisulfite, to Preserve Color.ingredientsThese simply contain unsweetened almond butter, unsweetened coconut, honey, coconut oil, vanilla bean paste and salt. They are finished with a thick coating of bittersweet chocolate and topped with whole toasted almonds and sea salt. This recipe is from the genius mind of Anna Jones. I am loving her new book, A Modern Way to Cookmix in a bowlspreading in panChill the mixture for about 45 minutes in the freezer before cutting into bars. Get your dipping station all set up. I was excited to use my chocolate dipping fork. I bought it over 30 years ago and it still thrills me every chance I get to use it. it makes me feel like a professional chocolatier. A regular fork works just as well for dipping. ready for dipping

 

all dippedThese satisfy your sugar craving without being cloyingly sweet. The hard shell of bittersweet chocolate yields to a chewy almond coconut filling.

Click here to print recipe for Healthy-ish Salted Almond Joy Bars.

on a bed of coconut