By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for Take Out
I don't know why making a fresh coconut cake for Easter popped into my head. Maybe, because I sleep with the TV on, a replay of Alton Brown's episode on how to make a fresh coconut cake crept into my subconscious. At any rate, I awoke this morning wanting to make a fresh coconut cake.
I went to Wal-Mart and got a white boxed cake mix (I'm cooking challenged, not stupid). Then I headed for the fresh produce aisle. I assumed a real coconut would be there somewhere. Now I have no idea how to pick out a good coconut. You can't thump them like a watermelon and smelling them only makes your nose itch from those little hairy string things. I looked at the end but no stem, only three brown/black circles. I turned it around and it seemed to make a little face so I went through all the coconuts looking for the happiest face. Once I had my happy face, I headed for the check-out line.
As luck would have it an elderly woman, by that I mean someone way older than me, said "Oh, you must be making a coconut cake." "Yes, do you have any idea how to get the coconut out?" I asked. "No, but my grandmother used to make a coconut cake every Easter and fresh coconut just doesn't compare to the ready prepared kind." Ok, I calculated that if her grandmother insisted on fresh coconut it was because ready prepared coconut hadn't been invented yet; still, fresh is best or so I'm told.
The children were eager to help when I got home and I let them. I figured three heads are better than one, even if two heads are under the age of ten. I poked holes in the coconut and the six-year-old got to milk the coconut. I strained the juice and added it to the cake mix in place of water. Each child had to drink some. "Ooouuu, yuk!" came out of their mouths and I hadn't even baked the cake yet. One child cracked the eggs while the other child mixed up the batter. "Am I a good cook or a good chef?" the six-year-old wanted to know. "Definitely a chef" and I proceeded to take a hammer to the coconut.
I had the coconut into fairly large chunks but then how do you separate the coconut from the shell? Something in my brain was replaying a portion of the "Good Eats" program and it was saying "Put the shell in the microwave." Now I am sure some of you are wondering why in the world she didn't Google fresh coconut. I'm on dial up, remember? By the time I would have gotten the information, it would have been time to Google "How do you know when the turkey is done?" Just let me say, NEVER put a piece of coconut in the shell in the microwave. My husband thought we were popping firecrackers in the kitchen. The children were now bored, or shell shocked and went outside to play.
I finally scooped out the coconut with a spoon but it still had that thin layer of brown on the meat side. I took a knife and cut that away. I don't have a food processor but I do have one of those mini-food graters; in fact I have two. I only had to pay shipping and handling for the second one. It only reduced the coconut chunks to smaller coconut chunks, though. I found one of those hand graters in the back of the kitchen junk drawer and for the next forty-five minutes I grated coconut. I'm glad my counter tops were clean because I got more on the counter than I did on the plate.
The cake is cooling waiting for the icing. I have ½ cup of finely grated coconut, 1 cup of coconut chunkettes, and shell fragments in the walls for my efforts. The lady in the check-out line said something about Seven Minute Frosting but I don't care what you call it, I know it would take me longer than seven minutes to make anything so I opted for Icing-in-a-can.
I figure I will slather icing on top of the cake and sprinkle my half-cup coconut over the top. If nobody eats it, then it will be forever known as the Passed Over Cake or if you were on clean-up detail, the Easter Mess.
Either way, I guess we created some Easter memories.