Monday, March 21, 2011

Almond Joy Cake

Growing up almond joys were one of my favorite candies to get when I went trick-or-treating, except that I didn't like dark chocolate and the mounds (with milk chocolate) didn't have the almond, so I could never find just what I wanted! Now that I'm a bit older I can appreciate the benefits of dark chocolate a bit more and since I don't go trick-or-treating I never have almond joys. Instead, I'll just have to make this almond joy cake! After using coconut for the banana bread this past weekend, I thought I should find another recipe to use up the rest of the shredded coconut. And this time I wasn't just baking for the heck of it. Sadly, it was for a coworkers goodbye party at work - she will be missed but I'm glad I could send her off with this yummy almond joy cake!

Almond Joy Cake
   1 3/4 cups flour
   2 tsp baking powder
   1 tsp salt
   1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
   3/4 cup white sugar
   2 TB cocoa powder
   1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
   2 tsp freshly grated orange peel
   2 large eggs
   1 tsp vanilla extract
   1 cup light coconut milk
   1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks/chips*
   1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
   1/3 cup sliced almonds
Coconut Drizzle:
   1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus an additional 2-3 TB)
   2 TB light coconut milk
   1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Butter and flour your cake pan - I used about a 9-inch square pan, but you can definitely use a round pan if that's what you have on hand. In my Buttery Apple Tort recipe you can see more details of how to do this.
2. In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then you can stir in the 1 cup of shredded coconut and set this mixture aside.
3. In a larger mixing bowl beat together the room temp butter, sugar and orange peel until light and fluffy, with an electric mixer. If you have a kitchen aid stand mixer it'll do the job on medium, but if you're using a hand mixer you'll have to put it on one of the higher settings to get it creamy and fluffy enough.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between each addition. You can add in the vanilla next. Then you'll want to alternate adding in the flour mixture and the coconut milk, a little at a time until both are completely added to the cake mix. At this point you can also get your oven preheated to 350 degrees.
5. At this point I decided to make my cake a marbled one - this is by no means necessary though. I divided the cake batter in half and added the cocoa powder to one half - mixing in the cocoa powder to create half coconut cake and then half chocolate coconut cake mixes. If you decide not to do this, and just have the coconut cake (without the cocoa powder) I would mix half of the chocolate chunks/chips into the cake batter at this point in the process. Because I went with the cocoa I decided just to top the cake with my chocolate pieces.
6. If you're feeling adventurous and want to marble the cake, it's not too much extra work! All you have to do is put dollops of the cake batter into the pan, overlapping some of it on top of each other, creating a sort of layered look. Just be careful not to mix the two together because the chocolate will overpower the plain coconut cake and will turn it all brown.
7. Then take a butter knife and make lines both horizontally and vertically to marble the two cake batters together. Be careful not to press the butter knife all the way down to the bottom of the pan if it's a teflon one because you don't want to scratch your pan.
8. Before you put the cake into the oven you'll add the toppings that really make this cake taste like an almond joy! If you haven't already mixed your chocolate pieces into your batter you'll want to top the cake with those first. Then add the sliced almonds and the shredded coconut. At this point you're ready to put your cake into your preheated oven.
9. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. You'll notice the coconut might be starting to brown so after the first 10 minutes tent the pan with foil (like we did here with the banana bread), then put the cake back into the oven for another 20 minutes. The cake is done when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean (without any batter on it).
10. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. I let mine cool overnight, but that's not necessary. The last couple steps get the cake ready to serve!
11. Time to get the coconut drizzle ready! Start by adding the 2 TB of coconut milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla to 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Mine was still a little too thin at this point so I added another TB of confectioners' sugar, mixing again to see if that was enough to make the drizzle thicker. Not quite - so I added 1 more TB of the confectioners' sugar. You should do the same process because your coconut milk may be thinner or thicker than mine, so you may need 1 TB more or less of confectioners' sugar than I used. So keep whisking until it's the right consistency for you!
12. I've done this for another recipe, so I took the idea from there. Using a chopstick or the end of spoon or something make some holes in the cake, scattered all over. This will help the coconut drizzle to seep into the cake itself and not just sit right on the top layer.
13. Drizzle the coconut sauce right on top so it's evenly covering the entire top surface and you're done! Serve at room temperature and you only need a small piece - it's a pretty heavy and sweet cake, so even though this cake pan is on the smaller side it'll go far for a good size group. Definitely a fork and plate kind of cake - can be a bit messy! Messy, but delicious!!

I'm pretty sure my coworkers enjoyed it - and they'll keep enjoying it tomorrow morning when I put it out again since we didn't quite finish it all at today's party! I loved that someone asked if there was actually pieces of almond joys in it - was a definite sign that it actually tasted like the candy bar like it was supposed to!

If you don't feel like making the coconut drizzle you could probably serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead, which would also be yummy.

*I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chunks, which can be found in the baking aisle, but you could also buy a chocolate bar and break it up, or use regular chocolate chips in a pinch. The dark chocolate creates the best almond joy effect though!

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