Virgin Gorda Coconut Layer Cake
This beautiful layer cake is unforgettable for both its taste and its presentation.. An intense flavor boost comes from the toasted coconut flakes. The coconut cream can be either fresh or canned.
- Coconut Flakes - 3 cups (for instructions on handling fresh coconuts, see Basics)
- Sponge Cake
- Unsalted butter - softened
- All-purpose flour - for dusting
- Egg Yolks - 8, at room temperature
- Whole Eggs - 6, at room temperature
- Sugar - 1-1/4 cups
- All-Purpose Flour - 1 cup
- Cornstarch - 1 cup
- Vanilla Extract - 1/2 teaspoon
- Unsalted Butter - 5 tablespoons, melted
- Pastry Cream
- Milk - 1 cup
- Egg Yolks - 2
- Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- All-purpose flour - 2 tablespoons
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2-1/2 cups
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Prickly Pear Coulis
- Prickly Pear juice - 1 cup, canned or fresh
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Toasted Coconut Flakes (above) - 1 cup
- Pastry Cream (above) - 1 cup
- Coconut Cream - 1/4 cup
- Toasted Coconut Flakes (above) - 2 cups
- Maraschino Cherries - 12, stems on
- Prickly Pear Coulis (above)
- Mangoes - 2, skinned, pitted, and sliced
- Mint - 8 sprigs
To toast the coconut: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread coconut flakes in a thin single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 7 - 9 minutes until golden brown.
To make the sponge: Preheat the oven to 350 F. using a round 9-inch springform cake pan, cut 1 round of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Brush the cake pan evenly with softened butter, then line the cake pan with the parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
Place the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on high speed until light and fluffy, 3 - 4 minutes. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and corn starch. Gently fold this mixture into the egg - sugar mixture. Fold in vanilla and butter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake 30 - 35 minutes, until the blade of small knife or a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let set for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
To prepare the pastry cream: Put the milk and vanilla in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Combine the egg yolks an sugar in a heatproof bowl and beat until thick and pale yellow. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch. Whisk in the hot milk and return the mixture to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes, whisking constantly to reach all parts of the pan. Pour the cream into a shallow dish and film with butter to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool.
To make the icing: In a medium mixing bowl, whip the cream, gradually adding the sugar. Beat cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside in the refrigerator.
To prepare the coulis: Combine the prickly pear juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until the mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
To assemble: using a sharp serrated knife, remove crusts from the top and sides of the cake. Slice the cake evenly into 3 thin layers. using a pastry brush, lightly dab the top surface of the bottom layer with 1/8 cup of coconut cream, following with 1/2 cup of the pastry cream spread in a thin layer. Top the pastry cream with 1/2 cup of toasted coconut flakes. Place the middle cake layer on top and press down slightly to anchor. Dab with coconut cream and spread with pastry cream; sprinkle with coconut flakes. Add the top cake layer, making sure all 3 layers are centered and even with each other; press down gently to anchor. Frost the entire cake with the whipped icing, reserving 1 cup. Using your hands, press toasted coconut flakes onto the sides of the cake. Sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on the center of the cake in a circle, leaving the outer edge open. Place the reserved icing in a pastry bag fitted with a medium fluted tip and pipe rosettes around the open area of the top, making a double circle of rosettes. Garnish rosettes with maraschino cherries.
To serve: Cut the cake into slices. On dessert plates, pipe prickly pear coulis in a swirled or zigzag design on one side. Place a cake slice next to the coulis and garnish with mango slices and fresh mint.