Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Surprise Cake

It has a secret...

It's the birthday of the friend who built my bed frame. Well, it was really his birthday a couple of days ago, but we're having a Friday night supper party, and I got the honor of baking his cakes. 

That's right, I said "cakes." Plural. 

This is partly because he and his family deserve it, partly because there will likely be a fairly large gathering, and mostly because one or two of us who will be there are a little sensitive to wheat, so there will be two: one cake is the standard white all-purpose flour treat, and the other is a variation on it, using a blend of non-wheat flours. 

I usually stick to the safe and affordable Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose flour for most baked items (biscuits, crackers, bread rolls, etc.), but when it comes to cake, I like a little more…something something cakey. Bob's GF AP flour can be a little beany and a little grainy, and some people (okay, that would be just me) kind of want a slightly more traditional tongue finish to our cakes, even when they're those dense pound cakes or brownie cakes, such as this one. This is supposed to be almost gooey in the middle and a little crispy in the crust, like a brownie wrapped around a macaroon. It called for a slightly different blend.

So, having just received a fresh batch of fine (pastry quality) sweet rice flour, I decided to add it to the mix. I'll be trying to make a batch of these, in a week or so, filled with lemon curd in anticipation of Pop's natal anniversary, but there's nothing in the rules of our kitchen to say I can't play with the stuff in other ways, ahead of that occasion.

At any rate, the cakes are baked and chilling. I'm also planning to make a dangerous ganache to send it over the top…we'll see how that goes. Not that this cake needs anything to cover it up. It's just that a tub or two of that rich chocolate goodness usually gets itself into the hands our resident designer/builder as a standard for this occasion, and I'd hate to give him an unpleasant surprise.

Meanwhile…chocolatey, coconutty, cakey cakeness:


Gluten-free Chocolate Coconut Surprise Cake


Coconut filling:
2 cups unsweetened coconut, finely shredded
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Chocolate cake:
3 1/2 ounces fine extra-dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and allowed to cool
1 1/2 cups of your favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup fine-ground sweet rice flour (also called sticky rice flour)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/4 teaspoons  vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt


Coconut filling:
In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the coconut, condensed milk, and egg white.

On a sheet of plastic wrap, lay out mixture, roll tightly to form a rope approximately 18 inches long, place in refrigerator to chill at least a half hour.

Chocolate cake: 
Preheat oven to 325º F.*
Heavily grease bundt or tube pan and dust with corn starch or cocoa powder (I like cocoa powder, because it leaves no white residue on the cake when baked).

Chop the chocolate into 1/4 inch bits and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Place in microwave oven and cook on high 30 seconds. Stir. Place back in microwave oven and cook on high another 30 seconds. Stir. If still not melted, cook some more, in increments of 15 seconds, stirring and allowing to 30 seconds. When almost fully melted, stir until smooth, then let stand to cool back down to room temperature.

In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flours, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with the standard beater paddle, until it is fluffy. Add sugar, beat on high until creamy and light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on high after each one until it is fully mixed before adding the next egg. When this is light and fluffy, add the vanilla, and, while the mixer still runs, pour in the melted chocolate, in a thin stream. Mix until batter is smooth and even.

Add in 1/3 of the dry ingredient combination, mixing well, then adding in 1/3 of the yogurt, again mixing well. Repeat with the next 1/3 dry mix, then yogurt, and then again to complete the process.

When everything is combined, it will make a very thick batter – almost a soft dough, resembling the batter of most good brownies. With a rubber spatula, scoop it out into the pan and with moistened spatula or fingers, create a central channel.

coco channel

Take the coconut rope out of the refrigerator, unwrap it and press it as deeply as you can into the top of the chocolate cake batter.


This is easier said than done, as the rope is fragile. Gently roll it out of the plastic wrap into the indentation. Smooth the chocolate batter around the coconut to make it level. You don't need to cover up the coconut. The chocolate will rise around it a tiny bit, but also, when it bakes up, the toasted coconut is less likely to stick to the parchment or cake plate than the chocolate is, and its flavor is awesome!)

Bake approximately 70 minutes, or until cake tester (or toothpick) inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan on rack at least 1/2 hour. If necessary, loosen cake from pan with very thin, flexible blade. Place disc of parchment over top of cake, then cover that with cake platter. Carefully invert and remove pan from cake. Cover cake in ganache or chocolate glaze.

They won't see the coconut until you slice the cake (yes, that's the surprise. I know, it's not that big a surprise, but, hey, we get our little thrills where we can) and serve with ice cream or stout ale – or both.

*If you use regular, non-gluten-free all-purpose flour, you'll want to omit the xanthan gum,  set the oven to 350º F., and bake for only 60 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

It's a cake!

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