To make coconut butter, I make a blend in a food processor of refined coconut oil and coconut milk. It's 80% coconut oil and 20% coconut milk, based on the amount you need for any given recipe. For example, if you need 10 ounces of butter, blend 8 ounces of oil with 2 ounces of coconut milk. Chill it, and voilà: Butter you can use for cookies, buttercreams, and everything else. It won't be super-stable in heat, but holds up at room temperature.
Ingredients (yields 10 sandwich cookies)
200 g butter
106 g sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
260 g flour
40 g almond meal
Powdered sugar and raspberry jam for assembly
1. Make the almond meal! Unless you bought some. To make it, blanch almonds by submerging them in boiling water for just a minute so that you can easily remove their skins. Then put them in a food processor until it you have small almond pellets, because you want to stop processing them before it gets to the almond butter phase. If the chunks start to get bigger, you've gone too far. Go farther and make almond butter. If not, though, you've got fresh almond meal.
2. Beat the butter in the stand mixer until it's smooth, then add the sugars. When those are combined, toss in the extracts.
3. Add the flour and almond meal, and mix until a smooth dough forms around the paddle.
4. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour before you roll it out.
5. Preheat the oven to 350. Cut out your cookies, put them in for 6 minutes, rotate, then go another 6 minutes.
6. Once they're cool, shake powdered sugar onto your top layers and spread a thin layer of jam on the bottom ones. Form your sandwiches, then, using a pastry bag fitted with a wide, round hole and filled with jam, add your dollops to the center. This is best Linzer formation technique that I have found.
What do you do when you want to bake, need to bake, but to make a layer cake would be both (1) insane, because of the heat and (2) insane, because who is going to eat it on a random Tuesday? I've found a solution to my problem by making simple one layer cakes and topping them with easy coconut whipped cream. Recently I desperately needed chocolate and used this solution to make Nigella's chocolate olive oil cake (just sub flax eggs!). This week, I went that route with a brown sugar banana cake that I also added a layer of dulce de leche to—rich, without making you want to die. That's basically my baking motto.
I've made a lot of banana cake this summer because the heat in my kitchen has made them ripen to blackened baking perfection with a speed I've never before seen. I used half white (or rather, beige organic cane) sugar and half dark brown sugar to give this one more depth, which I knew would go great with the dulce de leche I'd been waiting weeks to make with Edward & Sons Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk.
In the past, I've made dulce de leche the very hard way: stirring cans of coconut milk as they slowly cooked to that beautiful caramel color. It was rewarding and gave me one of the best buttercreams I've ever made, but if folks are going to give the dairy-free their very own condensed milk cans to boil, I'm going to be all for this breakthrough.
I WILL ADMIT that four hours of boiling didn't make it creamy and gorgeous out of the can for me, which I think is the fault of my not having a deep enough pot to keep it both submerged and at a rolling boil. BUT I was able to fix this easily by just emptying the almost-dulce-de-leche into a small pot, bringing it to a boil, and whisking until it was the desired color and thickness. It was still a crazy shortcut, and knowing this I hope makes anyone who wants to try out this method with this specific condensed coconut milk feel more secure: Even if you fuck up a little bit, you can fix it and it'll be delicious.
Without further ado, here's your perfect dinner party cake.
Brown Sugar Banana Cake
Makes 1 9-inch cake
1 medium mashed banana, about 100 g
200 g flour
1 ¼ t baking soda
1 t baking powder
½ t kosher salt
83 g sugar
83 g dark brown sugar
73 g coconut oil (refined or virgin), melted
275 g almond milk
2 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract
1. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with coconut oil and place a parchment round in the bottom. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt the coconut oil over a double boiler. Whisk it, the mashed banana, almond milk, extracts, and sugars together in a bowl until well combined.
3. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until there are no lumps.
5. Pour the batter into the cake pan; give it a little drop on the counter to remove air bubbles; and put it in the oven.
6. It will take about 30-35 minutes to bake, but it will be a golden brown all the way around when it's done.
Dulce de Leche
1 can of sweetened condensed coconut milk
Remove the label. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge the can in the water and set a timer for 4 hours. Make sure the can stays submerged. If once it cools and you open it up it's not a completely thick caramel, put it in a small saucepan, bring it to a boil, and whisk continuously and vigorously until it's very thick and creamy.
Coconut Whipped Cream
1 chilled can of coconut milk
Scoop out all the coconut cream (not the water!) into the bowl where you'll be whisking (can be a stand mixer). Whip it until it turns into a fluffy cream, then add a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla, and whip those in. It'll be a much faster process than with heavy cream!
Slather the dulce de leche atop your cooled cake, then spread the whipped cream on top of that. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes!
I think a lot, probably too much, about egg replacements in vegan baking. For Munchies last week, I looked at the super-popular aquafaba. For a few weeks, I've been experimenting here and there with Follow Your Heart's VeganEgg (they sent it to me to play with—hard to pass up), which is made of algae and smells so much like chicken eggs. I've made French toast with it, scrambled it up, and (my favorite) made a David Eyre pancake. These are all things that require a certain egginess that flax eggs, for example, don't really provide.
I haven't fallen in love with the product, though. It doesn't fit into my cooking life and I found its flavor in the scramble lacking. When you replace it 1:1 in certain recipes, like French toast, it creates so much moisture that the batter becomes less of a custard and more of a bread omelette. If you really enjoy its flavor and texture, it's worth playing with to get the right ratios. I like to create my own egg substitutes, tuned specifically for every recipe.
That said, here's the David Eyre pancake I used with it. It gave it great, moist texture and just enough subtle eggy flavor to bring me back to childhood. Adapted directly from the source recipe at the New York Times.
4 tablespoons VeganEgg + 1 cup cold water, whisked vigorously
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cashew milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
45 grams refined coconut oil
Fruit for topping
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine egg, flour, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on the stove over medium heat. When it's melted and hot (a flick of water immediately sizzles in it), pour in the batter. Put it in the oven until the edges start to curl in, 15-20 minutes (it will not brown like a classic David Eyre in plain coconut oil; if you're using something like Miyoko's Kitchen Cultured Vegan Butter, it will).
3. Remove from oven, top with fruit and powdered sugar.
I tend to spend Sundays in the kitchen. The day starts with, of course, a more elaborate breakfast: last week it was apple cider doughnuts; today, French toast. I move on to making stock with the scraps of the week's vegetables that I've kept in the freezer, and then I make beans and brown rice for a veggie burger base that I'll combine with onion and whatever other vegetables are handy. It keeps in the fridge all week, an on call lunch or even a great breakfast taco filling when crumbled up with shredded potatoes, onion, and jalapeño.
And of course, I like to bake something. Yesterday, I wanted cake. I came up with the idea of doing a coconut Bundt cake that I'd brush with rum simple syrup and coat in lemon glaze. I topped it with a healthy dose of toasted coconut.
88 g virgin coconut oil
200 g sugar
1 ¼ C coconut milk (room temperature)
¼ C almond milk (room temperature)
1 t vanilla extract (or use 1 t aged rum, if you have it)
1 t almond extract
193 g flour
½ t baking soda
½ t baking powder
¼ t salt
84 g shredded unsweetened coconut (plus about 3 T for toasting)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon white rum
1 cup confectioner's sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon (use more or less to taste)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat the inside of the Bundt pan with coconut oil (you can also use a 9-inch cake pan or loaf pan).
2. Make the cake. Melt the coconut oil over a double boiler or in the microwave. Combine all the wet ingredients plus sugar in one mixing bowl, mixing well. Measure all dry ingredients (except coconut) into a separate bowl; whisk well to combine. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until there are no lumps. Fold the shredded coconut into the batter and pour into the pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, until its edges are golden brown. Let cool completely in the pan before removing.
3. Make the rum simple syrup. While the cake bakes, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, sugar, and rum. Let it simmer and swirl it occasionally until all the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
4. Make the lemon glaze. Sift the confectioner's sugar and whisk together with the lemon juice until smooth.
5. Toast the coconut in a small pan over medium heat. Move it continually, as once it begins to brown it will do so rapidly. Once it is evenly browned, remove from heat.
6. When the cake is completely cooled and removed from the pan, use a pastry brush to coat it with the rum simple syrup (there will be leftover syrup). Pour the lemon glaze over the cake and sprinkle generously with toasted coconut.