From coconut cake with saffron cream to pavlovas with tropical fruit, here are delicious coconut desserts.
Food & Wine
February 12, 2015
1 of 13
Coconut cake, a dainty dessert, was in vogue in the 1920s for ladies' gatherings. Traditionally made with marshmallow frosting, the cake was famously served to President Truman during a trip to Florida in the 1950s.
These sweet and chewy two-bite macaroons have only five ingredients (not including the delicious bittersweet-chocolate drizzle). Baker Danny Cohen, a.k.a. Danny Macaroons, doesn't think all macaroons have to be round." Make whatever shape you want," he says. "There are no rules."
This towering dessert is made up of layers of super-moist, almost pudding-like coconut cake spread with tangy passion fruit curd. The recipe is from pastry chef Cynthia Wong. The cake may look intimidating, but it's easy to make: "Just pop the layers out of the baking pans and slap them together," Wong says.
Sophie Dahl's coconut frozen yogurt with a swirl of mango is like a tropical take on the classic orange Creamsicle. The method here, which does not require any special equipment, gives the frozen yogurt a fluffy, slightly icy texture, like a granita. For more creaminess, freeze the coconut base in an ice cream maker and swirl in the mango as soon as the frozen yogurt is done.
Saffron's earthy yet sweet flavors make the spice versatile enough to work in both savory dishes and desserts. Here, Tyler Brown uses saffron to flavor the pastry cream for his moist, airy take on coconut cake. Instead of making a classic round, Brown bakes the cake in a 9-by-13-inch pan and cuts it in half, then stacks the layers to make a handsome rectangle.
Pastry chef Cheryl Burr loves candy, as is obvious from her homage to the Almond Joy. Her luxurious take consists of a supremely fudgy brownie topped with a layer of chewy, flaky, exceptionally tender coconut. She dots each bar with a crunchy roasted almond, then coats them in silky bittersweet-chocolate ganache.
Coconut Pudding with Pineapple and Candied Cashews
This rich, creamy pudding is studded with deep tropical flavors and a sweet, nutty garnish. Here it's molded in an 8-inch square pan; the pudding can also be prepared in individual custard cups or ramekins.
Kerry Simon tops creamy frozen yogurt with chunks of caramelized pineapple and slivers of fresh coconut, but toasted, shredded coconut is just as delicious. Another variation: Swap out the pineapple for bananas and garnish with the Japanese herb shiso.
While creating this cold, creamy terrine with layers of fluffy coconut mousse and sweet-tart mango sorbet, Lauren Chattman (author of Icebox Desserts) decided to add crunchy bits of sesame praline. But she couldn't get the praline right. Then she discovered a great trick: While melting the sugar in hot water, you can prevent the edges of the praline from crystallizing by covering the pot.
Delicate and substantial at the same time, Nick Malgieri's pistachio-topped coconut meringues are chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. For the best results, bake them on a dry day: Humidity can make meringues disappointingly soft.