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March 23, 2016

Raspberry Coconut Cake

Easter is a huge deal in Europe, or at least the places I've traveled to. I went to a grocery store in Switzerland and passed walls of chocolate bunnies easily 10 feet tall and 20 feet long. Every chocolate store I visited in Belgium and Switzerland exclusively sold chocolate bars, truffles, and Easter-themed items like eggs, chickens, and bunnies. Even better are the giant 18" chocolate eggs filled with chocolate ganache or toys. However, I recognize that most people don't celebrate Easter solely by gorging on massive amounts of chocolate. This dessert is a wonderful springtime recipe that is fancy enough for your Easter luncheon or dinner party. The flavors are simple enough that they won't steal the show but you can decorate the cake so that it makes a beautiful centerpiece that everyone will want to dig into.


For a one layer cake, this does require a fair amount of effort. The base is a coconut cake studded with fresh raspberries. That gets topped with some white chocolate and a raspberry glaze and is sprinkled with toasted coconut, more fresh raspberries, and a drizzle of white chocolate. It would be delicious with dark chocolate as well, but you won't get the same color contrast.


The cake recipe is very similar to that for a basic vanilla cake but with coconut. It starts by beating butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You'll want to use very soft butter for this, especially if you're doing it without a stand mixer. The eggs and vanilla are added gradually to make sure they are fully incorporated. As with most cakes, the dry ingredients are alternated with a liquid in 3 and 2 additions, respectfully. Here, I use flour, baking powder, and salt as my dry ingredients and a blend of buttermilk and coconut milk as the liquid. The coconut is used for flavor and the buttermilk is used to cut the richness. Once the batter is fully combined but not over-mixed, I fold in toasted sweetened shredded coconut and a handful of fresh raspberries. If you don't want your raspberries to burst during this process, freezing them for about an hour helps keep them solid.


While the cake is baking, there's plenty of time to whip up the raspberry glaze. It's just raspberry jam heated with a bit of water to improve the consistency, and I heat it and strain it to remove the seeds. Once the cake is cool, I spread some melted white chocolate on the top in a thin, even layer and pipe a ring of chocolate around the top edge of the cake. This prevents the glaze from soaking into the cake and spilling over the sides. The glaze is spread on top of the hardened chocolate shell, and the cake is refrigerated until set. I like to finish things off with an extra drizzle of white chocolate, some fresh raspberries, and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. It just takes a little bit of time to make a showstopping cake that is totally better than a giant chocolate easter egg.


In other news, I officially have an Instagram account for The Nerdy Chef, so follow me at @thenerdychef1. I also have a twitter account (@thenerdychef). On the science side of things, a picture from my research on lactose crystals in key lime pies (shown below) was a winner in the University of Wisconsin's 2016 Cool Science Image contest, so I'll be featured in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Magazine this summer and in various other events and publications.


1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut, Toasted
1 1/2 Sticks Butter, Softened
1 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
3 Eggs
2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1 Cup Raspberries (plus more for garnish)
1/2 Cup Raspberry Jam
6oz White Chocolate, Melted

Heat oven to 350F. Line a 10" springform pan with parchment and grease.

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs one at a time. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and coconut milk in two additions. Fold in 2/3 cup coconut and the raspberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through.

Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the sides.

Meanwhile, heat the jam with 2T water over medium heat in a small pot. Strain and refrigerate until cold but not set, about 15 minutes.

Pipe a ring of melted chocolate around the edge of the cake to create a barrier for the jam. Pour the jam onto the cake to form an even layer that doesn't spill over the edge of the white chocolate. Chill until set, about 20 minutes. Drizzle the remaining white chocolate on top and sprinkle the remaining coconut and raspberries around the edges if desired.

Makes 1 10" Cake
Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart and The Kitchen Alchemist

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