I know I've been more absent from the blog these days than I really should be, but Real Life (TM) has been happening, keeping me off the online world--even off Twitter and Instagram and facebook, which, in all honesty, is quite refreshing. It's been a lesson in remembering how to experience life and how to find joy and emotions in the world and in our actions without the pressures of reporting all the gory details online. Though it's a bit of a work-in-progress, I think this re-connection to the Real World is necessary every now and then to keep myself grounded.
In the past few weeks, as Online Life keeps speeding along without me, I celebrated my last mid-20s birthday. (Next year, I officially enter my "Late 20s," which is terrifying, given all that I haven't yet accomplished!) On my birthday, we had a wonderful dinner with a few of my closest friends at my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant, replete with creamy gnocchi pesto, my favorite lobster and shrimp risotto, and housemade, sweet limoncello (highlights amongst numerous other delicious dishes). Then, a few days later, more close friends gathered at a big backyard BBQ to continue the celebration. All being foodies (though many not of the blog world), the BBQ was packed with chipotle BBQ cherry pizzas, grilled chicken and portabello mushrooms with chimichurri, buffalo grilled shrimp with blue cheese dip, garlic soy chicken wings, fennel lychee spring rolls, olallieberries and raspberries and melon and prosciutto, virgin and non-virgin margaritas, Dynamo Donuts, grilled corn with lime and paprika, sesame fried mochi and mochi cupcakes, so many types of whole grain salads, and more and more to stuff one's face and stomach with. But more importantly than the bounties of food was the realization when we went around introducing one another that every single one of my friends is so uniquely cool, and that I'm blessed to be surrounded by some of the most creative, kind, hilarious, talented, smart, and amazing people one could imagine.
(There were many photographers at the party, but Jackie, I think, was the unofficial Photographer of the Day: see her view of the BBQ here. I barely took a single picture, since my hands were alternately covered with either pizza flour and dough or buffalo sauce for the whole afternoon.)
For the rest of the past few weeks, between work and work, there was also that weird July 4th that happened smack dab in the middle of the week. Then, I finally got a new refrigerator to replace my poor old dying contraption that kept melting all of my popsicles and ice cream for the past few months--a special thank you to my parents for that! Of course, the first thing I put in there was my ice cream maker, so hopefully there will finally be proper homemade ice cream/gelato/sorbet cranking out of the desserts for breakfast kitchen soon. :) The big fridge move/clean-out also coincided with helping one of my good friends in the area with her big move and packing, so it's been a lot of lifting and taping and cardboard and bubble wrap for me in the last few days!
And at last this stream-of-consciousness blog post brings me to this coconut chocolate cake with raspberries, which I actually made quite a few weeks ago. Ever since my first tango with the raspberry+coconut combo in April, I've been obsessed with this ingredient pairing. This cake is no different: it's so good that I'm actually quite upset that it's been upstaged by the photographic/pedagogical purpose I used it for, but I can tell you that I made this cake four times for the photography styles study, and I still can't get enough of it! The cake layers are dense and moist with a refreshingly coconut-y flavor and wrapped in a creamy and dark coat of my favorite chocolate ganache frosting. The fresh raspberries lend the rich cake a lightly sharp fruitiness and a little bit of tart against the chocolate and coconut underneath. It's a cake that's dramatic enough for a special occasion but also simple and humble enough to sneak in for afternoon tea. :)
[click on photo above for a larger image]
P.S. Don't miss a few interviews about sated magazine on Foodie Bugle and BlogHer Food!
Read on for recipe....
Coconut Chocolate Cake with Raspberries
makes one three-layer six-inch round cake
(frosting recipe from the Scharffenberger chocolate book)
179 g (1¼ cup + 2 Tbspn) all-purpose flour
1 tspn baking powder
¼ tspn salt
57 g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
53 g (¼ cup) virgin coconut oil, at room temperature
200 g (1 cup) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tspn coconut extract
142 g (½ cup + 2 Tbspn) whole milk
29 g (2 Tbspn) coconut milk
350 g (1¾ cups) sugar
345 g (1½ cups) heavy cream
213 g (7.5 oz) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
170 g (12 Tbspn) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1½ tspn vanilla extract
1. for cake. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour three six-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds and wrap with bake-even strips, if desired.
2. In a bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and coconut oil. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Gradually add the sugar, and beat for 2 to 3 more minutes.
5. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition. Beat in the coconut extract.
6. Add in a third of the flour mixture, beating briefly to combine. Then, beat in the whole milk. Add in another third of the flour mixture, beating briefly to combine, followed by the coconut milk. Finally, add the remaining third of the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Do not overmix.
7. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out cleanly. Remove the cakes from the oven. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then remove the cakes from the pans and let cool completely on the rack.
8. for frosting. In a saucepan, bring the sugar and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cream and sugar for six minutes. Be careful not to let the saucepan overflow.
9. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter until they have completely melted. Stir in the vanilla extract.
10. Let the frosting cool completely, whisking every now and then during cooling. Once the frosting is completely cool at room temperature, it will be spreadable. Use to frost and stack the cakes.
11. Top with fresh raspberries.
Note on coconut milk: Make sure to mix the coconut milk before using so that the cream on top of the coconut milk is mixed in. Do not use just the milk with no cream.
Note: For a three-layer eight- or nine-inch round cake, double the recipe.