Coconut-taro layer cake

I grew up on taro cake. And truthfully, I hated it. There was something heavy, unpleasant, and stodgy about it that wasn’t appealing to me as a child. It wasn’t until I ate ube(the Filipino cousin to taro) desserts that my palate was more adjusted and accepting to the concept of putting a starchy, unpleasant tuber like taro into cakes. So this cake is my coming full circle with taro, and wanting to make amends for the years of hating on it and how taro cakes used to put me off. I made a taro puree by just boiling taro in salted water, then passing it through a ricer to soften it into a pastry-friendly consistency. For the purple coloring, I had to use purple coloring, since I was short on my murasaki yam and ube powders. For the taro crunch in the crunch base, I went with activated charcoal to dye it black, since the charcoal is made from coconut, to tie that in, and since that gives the crunch base this earthier color and texture, representative of how taro is grown from the ground. Truthfully, I never understood why taro desserts were purple, even now, since it’s more like a pale white with pink dots anyways, but it only felt right to color the dessert purple as an homage to the tradition that is purple taro desserts. For my components, we have a taro spongecake, a crunch layer made with a taro crunch, toasted coconut, and white chocolate, a coconut soak, a taro mousse, and a coconut mousse. I felt like the coconut just offset any unpleasant heaviness in the taro, and makes it a more balanced cake.

For the taro cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups taro puree
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cups canola oil
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 dots purple gel food coloring

Mix everything together to form a batter. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes. Cool down the cake completely. Cut out 2 8-inch squares and then 2 half squares.

For the taro crunch:
1/2 cup taro puree
1 teaspoon activated charcoal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
a pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together. Spread between two sheets of parchment, then bake at 350 degrees F, uncovered, for 22 minutes. Crush into smaller pieces.

For the toasted coconut:
1 cup toasted coconut flakes

Bake at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes. Cool down before using.

For the crunch layer:
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup taro crunch
1/2 cup coconut flakes
a pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Fold into that the other ingredients. Spread onto a silpat or parchment sheet, making sure that the chocolate is larger than an 8-inch square. Refrigerate for 20 minutes then cut out an 8-inch square.

For the coconut soak:
1/2 cup coconut milk
a pinch of salt

Mix together. Keep refrigerated.

For the taro mousse:
2 teaspoons gelatin powder
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup taro puree
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 dots purple gel food coloring
2/3 cups heavy cream

Bloom the gelatin in water. Place with the taro puree into the coconut milk and heat up on low heat. Whisk the egg yolks with sugar and temper in the taro milk mixture. Whisk everything in a pot on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Pass through a sieve and whisk in the purple coloring and vanilla. Chill down to room temperature. Whisk heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold into the taro mixture and transfer into a piping bag. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the coconut mousse:
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Heat up the coconut milk in a pot. Whisk the egg with cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Temper the coconut milk into the eggs and then whisk everything on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Take off heat and whisk in the coconut oil. Pass through a sieve and refrigerate. Whisk the cooled down mousse before transferring to a piping bag.

For assembly:
Lightly oil an 8-inch square mold. Place the mold on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Place down your crunch layer first, then the two half-squares of cake. Pour on your soak, then the mousse, then some of your coconut flakes. Repeat these steps using a whole square. For the final layer, place on the last square of cake and your soak. Spread on a thin layer of the mousse to cover the cake. Then pipe on the mousses and top with your coconut flakes. Freeze for at least 45 minutes before unmolding.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Virginia L. says:

    Oh Fred! You can really dream up some amazing desserts! This cake looks heavenly! I love that you pay homage to your taro roots! LOVE this!


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