Tag Archives: Coconut

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

Blondies

lined-up-in-trayAs the aroma of butter and sugar filled the kitchen, my husband magically appeared to find out what was going on. When I revealed that I was baking blondies he looked puzzled. He had no idea what a blondie was. I explained that a blondie is essentially a brownie without the chocolate. His response was “what’s the point of that?”

His response was understandable. There are times when only a deep dark fudgy brownie will satisfy you. But have you considered the fact that without the distraction of chocolate, butter and brown sugar get to be the star? Once the blondies hit the oven, the brown sugar takes on an undertone of butterscotch, with rich caramel notes. The flavours of a blondie are subtle and complex.cut-up-blondiesThe golden top, slightly crispy, gives way to a chewy interior. Studded with white chocolate, macadamia nuts, toffee bits and coconut, these blondies are chock-full of goodness.what-youll-needThese blondies are adapted from Daphna Rabinovitch’s blondie recipe in her comprehensive new cookbook, “The Baker in Me.” It is from Daphna that I first learned about the freakishly delicious combination of white chocolate and macadamia nuts. She was the pastry chef at the take-out food shop I worked in many years ago. I would have happily accepted her white chocolate macadamia nut cookies or skor bar cookies in lieu of a paycheque.spreading-out-batter-in-pancutting-blondies

Click here to print recipe for Blondies.

piled-up-in-glass-stand

Raspberry Coconut Cornmeal Shortcake

put on the lid 2It’s tough to improve on a classic strawberry shortcake when done well. Crafted from skilled hands, shortcake biscuits are perfectly light and tender, thanks to buttermilk and baking powder, while rich and flaky at the same time, owing to lots of butter.

But when messing with the classics involves the addition of coconut, I sit up and pay attention. I first heard about coconut shortcake from Chef Vivian Howard, on her PBS series, “A Chef’s Life.” She baked the shortcake in small cast iron pans and flavoured the whipped cream with basil, to pair with strawberries. I tried this variation a few weeks ago, at the height of strawberry season, but they disappeared before I could take a picture. Some of my guests loved the basil, others felt like they were eating pesto flavoured whipped cream.

Since we are thick in the middle of raspberry season, I decided to make them again. The coconut in this shortcake comes from 4 sources! Coconut milk, cream of coconut (the stuff they use in making pina coladas), large flakes of coconut and coconut extract. Coconut haters need not read any further. ready to bakeI decided to bake them in my mini Bundt pans because tiny treats are adorable. pouring batterWe let our guests assemble their own. Just slice the cakes and set out a big bowl of berries and some whipped cream.assembly FOpen faced.open facedOr with a lid.put on the lid 625 sqA dusting of icing sugar is always a good idea.let it snow 1let it snow 2These shortcakes are much denser than the traditional, but I loved that about them. Sturdy and bursting with coconut and cornmeal, they are perfect for soaking up all the berry juices and cream.

Click here to print recipe for Raspberry Coconut Cornbread Shortcake.