September 24, 2012 at 8:22 am (Cake, Dessert, Family, Holiday Baking, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, The Modern Baker)
Tags: banana, Bananas, butter, Cake, coconut, Dark rum, Dessert, layer cake, Modern Baker, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, rum, whipped cream
This week’s Modern Baker Challenge cake features one of my favorite flavors. No, I don’t mean dark rum (although I’m certainly not opposed to rum). I’m talking about bananas. Regular readers of my blog know about my obsession with all things pumpkin, as well as my love of apples. But I am equally enamored with bananas.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll eat anything that’s banana flavored. In fact, like strawberries, while I love real bananas, I really dislike “banana flavored” foods. But give me a fresh banana, or better yet a baked good made with ripe bananas, and I’m a happy man.
So this cake was right up my alley. It combines ripe bananas with rum and coconut for a delicious tropical flavor baked into a homey layer cake.
To make the cake layers, I beat butter, granulated and dark brown sugars, and vanilla until fluffy, then added eggs. I mixed flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl and mashed bananas, milk, and dark rum in another. I alternated adding these to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
I beat the batter for several minutes to lighten it, then divided it between two 9-inch pans. I baked the cake layers in a 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the cake was well risen, golden, and firm in the center.
This cake smelled good enough to eat right out of the oven. But I resisted and cooled the layers while I made the frosting.
As I’ve baked my way through the Cakes section of The Modern Baker, I have really come to appreciate the simplicity, lightness, and wonderful flavor of whipped cream as cake frosting. And when you add rum to the whipped cream, well, things can only get better.
Having cooled the layers and made the frosting, which consisted of whipping cream, sugar, and dark rum, I was ready to assemble the cake. I placed the first layer on a cake plate, sprinkled it with about a tablespoon of dark rum, and spread the top with whipped cream. I inverted the second layer on top of the first and topped it with rum and whipped cream. I spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake, then pressed coconut into the frosting.
We enjoyed this cake for dessert, and everyone asked for seconds.
This cake was delicious, with the tropical flavors of banana and coconut shining through. And even though it had dark rum in the batter and frosting, it wasn’t at all boozy tasting.
This is another celebration cake: one that’s simple enough to make for any gathering, but impressive enough to commemorate those special occasions.
July 17, 2011 at 8:13 am (Dessert, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, Sweet tart dough, Tart Crust, Tarts & Pies, The Modern Baker)
Tags: bittersweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate tart, chocolate, chocolate nut dough, coconut, Dessert, Lemon, lemon curd, lime, lime curd, mini muffin pan, Modern Baker, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, Pecan tart, Pecans, sweet tart, Tart, Tart dough, tartlet shells, tartlets, toasted coconut
With two weeks left to go in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I found myself with four recipes remaining. The kids are out of town, and we decided to have a low-key day today, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to play a little catch-up. I decided to knock out three recipes at once. The lemon lime tartlet and chocolate caramel pecan tartlet recipes each make 24 tartlets, way too many to have around with just J and me to eat them. Since each recipe calls for the tart shells to be prebaked, I figured I would bake the shells together and then fill them.
As for the third recipe, well, that’s the tartlet shells for the chocolate caramel pecan tartlets. The recipe calls for shells made with chocolate nut dough, and since this is the first recipe to use that dough, I hadn’t made it yet. The lemon lime tartlets are made with sweet tart dough, which I’ve made for many of the recipes in this section.
I mixed up both doughs early in the day and let them chill in the fridge for a few hours. For the lemon lime tartlets, I rolled out the sweet tart dough, cut it into circles, and pressed each disk into a mini muffin pan. Then I did the same with the chocolate nut dough.
I chilled the dough in the pans for about an hour, then baked the shells in a 350°F oven for 12 minutes. Although I pricked the dough well with a fork before baking, the shells puffed up to the point where there was no room for filling. While the shells were still hot, I pressed the center of each one with a small ladle to make room for the filling. I cooled the crusts in the pan for a few minutes, then removed them to a cooling rack. A few of the bakers in the Challenge noted that their tartlet shells stuck when they baked them in mini muffin pans. Knowing this, I had sprayed my pan lightly with spray oil, and my shells came out beautifully.
While the tart shells were cooling, I toasted coconut for the lemon lime tartlets, then made the filling for the chocolate caramel pecan tartlets. (I didn’t have to make the lemon lime filling, as I had leftover lemon and lime curds in the fridge from making ice cream.) The chocolate filling isn’t particularly difficult, although it does require quite a few steps and dirties a lot of pans and bowls. The caramel is made in one pan while the cream is heated in another. These are combined, then scraped into a bowl to cool. Chocolate, which has been melted and cooled in another bowl, is then added to the caramel-cream mixture, and butter and nuts (which have been toasted in a separate pan) are added last.
After making the filling and shells, assembling the tartlets was a breeze. I spooned the chocolate caramel pecan tartlet filling into the shells and topped each one with a toasted pecan.
For the lemon lime tartlets, I had planned to mix my lemon and lime curds, which I had made and stored separately, but Nick cautions against overstirring the curd, lest it become too liquid. I tested this by putting a spoonful of each into a bowl and mixing them. Sure enough, the curd broke down and become too watery to hold up in the tart shells. So I filled half the shells with lemon curd and the other half with lime curd, then topped them with toasted coconut.
My wife and I enjoyed these tartlets for a late-evening snack. We loved the flavor of all three of the tartlets, although we did discover that it was best to eat the chocolate ones first, as they tended to taste a little bitter after eating the curd-filled tartlets.
These were delicious tarts, and I will definitely make them again. However, unless I’m making them for a finger-food event, I would be inclined to do them as full size tarts, rather than tartlets.
January 18, 2011 at 6:59 am (Bake!, Muffins, Nick Malgieri, Twitterbake)
Tags: Bake!, Citrus, coconut, Cupcakes, lemon zest, Mini cakes, mini cupcakes, Nick Malgieri, Twitterbake
It was Kayte‘s turn to pick our Twitterbake recipe this week, and she surprised us all by choosing something other than a lemon-based recipe. Of course, once I read the ingredients, which included grated lemon zest, I was no longer in shock. She loves coconut, too, so I guess it’s the perfect recipe for her to have chosen.
This seemed like a strange recipe to me as I read over it. For 24 mini-muffin size cakes, it only calls for 1/2 cup flour. There are four egg whites, so as first I thought it would be more like a meringue. But as I read the recipe, I saw that the egg whites are only lightly beaten, not whipped into peaks. Puzzled but curious, I started to mix up the ingredients.
In one bowl I mixed sugar, flour, and coconut. The recipe called for unsweetened coconut. I looked in the cupboard and had no less than six bags of coconut, all sweetened. I wasn’t about to buy more coconut until I used some of this up, so I used what I had and cut the sugar back a bit.
In a separate bowl I whisked the egg whites and a pinch of salt until smooth, then mixed in lemon zest and melted butter. After this was well mixed, I whisked in half of the flour mixture, then folded in the rest. I spooned the batter into mini muffin pans. I got 24 minis, each about 3/4 full. After filling the tins, I topped each cupcake with a pinch of shredded coconut.
I baked the cakes for 15 minutes at 375°F, until they were slightly puffed and the coconut was nicely toasted.
These mini cakes were delicious! I didn’t measure the lemon zest — I just zested the lemon right over the bowl — and I think I probably ended up with more than the recipe called for, as my cakes were more yellow than those pictured in the book. But I didn’t mind the extra lemon flavor at all. Combined with the coconut, the lemon gave these cupcakes a wonderful, fresh flavor. It was lighter than I expected and paired perfectly with a cup of afternoon coffee.
Our Twitterbake is a casual affair. Several of us who have Nick Malgieri‘s most recent book, Bake!, get together virtually every week or so to try a new recipe from the book. We bake. We Tweet. Sometimes we blog. Mostly we just have fun trying new recipes.
If you have Bake! and want to join us, jump right in. We’ll even let you pick your first recipe.