Dulcey-piña colada cake

So I made this cake for my friend, Carolyn, specifically on her birthday. She was hardcore craving a “toasty, tropically flavored” cake, and she literally gave me a list of what she wanted. She wanted a coconut cake with crunchy macadamia nuts, something with pineapple, but it had to be cooked, toasted coconut, and something with blonde chocolate to add another crunch. From that, I went with a coconut cake with a pandan-roasted pineapple soak, caramelized pineapple ganache, macadamia nuts, toasted coconut, blonde chocolate or dulcey, coconut cream, and pineapple chip flowers. I really just wanted this cake to be a fun, tropical experience. To really impart coconut flavor into the cake, I went with using some coconut flour in place of the AP flour, since that is just basically finely ground up coconut anyways. The end result? A fluffy coconut cake with layers of tart and sweet pineapple ganache, sweet coconut cream, and a lot of crunchy bits. I wanted this coconut cake to be more Southern-styled, since my friend requested that specifically, so I went with the technique of alternating between adding your dry and wet ingredients to creamed butter and sugar – normally, I would just dump everything in together, but the alternating techniques gives your cake more structure because more gluten is being developed and air is being incorporated into the cake, giving it that fluffy and toothsome mouthfeel.

For the cake:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/3 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup coconut milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a bowl, whip butter, coconut oil, sugar, baking soda, salt, and vanilla together for 10 minutes. In another bowl, mix coconut milk with eggs until combined. Sift the coconut flour and all-purpose flour together in a third bowl. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture into the butter mixture, stirring until combined between adding in the next. Once everything is combined, pour the batter into a lined half sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting out two 6-inch rounds and making a third out of the scraps.

For the soak:
12 oz diced pineapple
1/4 teaspoon pandan-buko extract
2 tablespoons coconut milk
a pinch of salt

In a nonstick or cast iron pan, slowly cook the pineapple on medium heat until completely caramelized and browned. Puree this mixture, and reserve 1/4 cup of it for the ganache. Mix the rest of it into the pandan, coconut, and the salt to finish.

For the ganache:
1/4 cup roasted pineapple juice
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon gelatin powder
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup dulcey
a pinch of salt

Whisk together your gelatin and water first. Take that mixture and add it into the pineapple juice. Heat it up, and whisk in the egg yolks, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat. Transfer into a blender and puree with the dulcey and salt. Pass through a sieve into a bowl, press with cling wrap, and refrigerate until cool to the touch.

For the pineapple chips:
1/2 a pineapple, cut along the width, peeled, but not cored

Shave the pineapple on a mandolin, then spread onto parchment. Bake at 275 degrees F for 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to guarantee even baking.

For the coconut cream:
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 cup heavy cream
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut milk

Whip sugar, cream, salt, and vanilla to stiff peaks first. Fold the coconut milk into that, then refrigerate the cream until time to assemble.

For assembly:
1 1/2 cups toasted macadamia nuts
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
3/4 cups blonde chocolate pieces

Start with lining a 6-inch ring mold with parchment or acetate. Place down the scrap layer of cake first, then 1/3 of your soak, 1/3 of the pineapple ganache, 1/3 of the macadamia nuts, coconut flakes, and chocolate, then 1/3 of your cream. Repeat this for the next layer. For the last layer, place on the cake and the soak, then spread on your ganache and cream. Reserve the last of your macademia nuts, toasted coconut flakes, and blonde chocolate. Allow the cake to freeze for at least 2 hours before unmolding. Garnish the top with the macadamia nuts, coconut flakes, blonde chocolate, and pineapple chips to finish.

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