Coconut Cake with Fluffy White Frosting

I developed this coconut cake in an effort to make a delicious cake in record time.  SUPER easy cake, fluffy white frosting, and sweet coconut covering the whole thing make this a winner.
Coconut CakeHere’s the trick:  I use a white cake mix.  After tinkering with several scratch recipes, this one was just better.  And as a plus is is about as easy as it gets.  One of the reasons it has full coconut flavor is that I use coconut milk in the cake.  The coconut milk replaces the water and oil that are usually used in the mix.  Voila!  Great texture, and rich coconut flavor.
Coconut cake ingredients

Coconut Cake

one white cake mix
three eggs
14 oz can coconut milk

Fluffy White Frosting (recipe below)
One 14 oz. bag sweetened flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350.  Spray pans with baking spray. (I like to use three 8 inch round pans, as this allows me to tuck frosting and coconut in between each layer, creating a lovely tall cake.  But you can use one 9 X 13 pan, or two 9 inch rounds instead.)

Place white cake mix, coconut milk, and three whole eggs into mixing bowl, then blend on low for 30 seconds.  Scrape down sides of the bowl.  Beat on medium speed for two minutes.
Coconut cake pans
Pour into prepared pans, then bake until done.  I check my layers after 18 minutes, as they are rather thin.  You’ll need a bit more time for a 9 X 13 cake.  When the cake is done, a toothpick should come out clean when poked into the center of the cake.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn layers out on a baking rack until cool.

Frost and fill with Fluffy White Frosting and cover the whole cake with sweetened, flaked coconut.

Fluffy White Frosting

10 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) granulated white sugar
2 TB corn syrup
1/2 cup water
three egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
(1/4 tsp. coconut extract, optional)

Put the water, corn syrup, and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan.  Cover and heat on high until sugar is dissolved.  Boil uncovered for three minutes.

While the sugar mixture is heating, whip the egg whites on medium low with whisk attachment until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and speed up the mixer and whip until they are big and fluffy.

By this time the syrup should be boiling away.  When the syrup comes to a full boil, boil on high for three minutes.  You should notice that the syrup is still clear, but seems thicker.  Be careful — it’s super hot.  It will look like this:
Coconut Cake frosting syrupNow, with the mixer running on medium-low, pour the boiling hot sugar syrup in a thin stream into the whipping egg whites.  (Be careful not to pour it onto the attachment, or you may have a hot mess of boiling sugar syrup being flung around your kitchen!)  After pouring all the syrup into the whipped egg whites, continue whipping the frosting until it’s fluffy and glossy and cooled off a bit (it can still be warm when it’s done — just not hot).  Add the vanilla and spread on your cooled cake layers.

This frosting requires some technique, but it’s a time-tested fluffy white frosting.  Just channel your inner Betty Crocker, and I think you’ll get the hang of it.  (This video shows some basic technique, though I don’t use a thermometer.)

Spicy Tofu Crumbles

Calling all frugalista foodies:  here is a simple, adaptable recipe to help you spice up your menu.

Spicy Tofu CrumblesAnd for all you vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike — take heart:  these toothsome crumbles have flavor.  The key?  your freezer and liberal use of seasoning.  Use these crumbles in tacos, in a salad, in place of ground beef or turkey in chile — wherever you want some spicy little bits of protein-packed tofu goodness.

Spicy Tofu Crumbles

1 package firm tofu*
2 TB olive oil
1 tsp. chipotle powder
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt
juice of one large or two small limes

Remove tofu from package, drain off water, chop into 1 inch chunks, and place in a bowl or plastic container.  Place in the freezer until frozen.  When you’re ready to make the crumbles remove tofu cubes from freezer, and allow to thaw on counter or speed up the process by microwaving the frozen tofu in 30 second intervals until thawed.  Press down lightly on the tofu to remove excess liquid.

Heat frying pan until hot, then add the oil, crushed garlic, and tofu.  Saute and break up the tofu until hot, slightly browned, and broken into the size crumbles you like.  Add the chipotle powder, lime juice and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt to taste.

* You may be able to find extra-firm or super-firm tofu.  If this is the case, you may omit the freezer step.  The freeze/thaw step just helps the tofu to drain more liquid, resulting in a firmer texture.

Granola with Chia and Cashews

Homemade granola is a staple in my home.  I’m convinced that once you try making your own granola – then do a price and taste comparison – you’ll make it a routine.
Granola chia cashew baked closeupI like my breakfast to have more than just grains, with the right balance of protein-rich nuts and seeds to keep my metabolism humming all morning.  I find that most commercial granola is too sweet, yet lacking in flavor.  I use good quality olive oil for this recipe — and it adds a beautiful floral flavor.  I hope you’ll enjoy this simple granola recipe.  Enjoy!

Granola with Chia and Cashews

10 cups (28 oz)  whole rolled oats (old-fashioned, not quick-cooking or instant)*
1 cup chia seed (substitution: sesame seeds or unsweetened dried, flaked coconut)
1 cup raw whole cashews
2 cups sliced raw almonds
1 tsp. sea salt
2 TB ground cinnamon
1 cup (12 oz) honey
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Granola Chia Cashew rawMix all ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly blended.  Spread and lightly press mixture onto two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets.  Bake at 300 until granola is lightly browned and toasty.  Total baking time is 30 – 35 minutes, and I take care to rotate the pans midway through baking to keep the browning even.

Cool granola undisturbed in the pans.  When cool, break up the granola and store airtight.  Keeps for weeks.  Feel free to top with fresh or dried fruit.   Enjoy with milk, yogurt, soy milk, or as a delightful snack eaten right out of hand.

Granola chia cashew bowl*oats are naturally gluten-free.  If you are extremely gluten sensitive, purchase certified gluten-free oats.