I’ve always had this obsession thing for Australian lamingtons, small pieces of white cake dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. It’s totally not surprising, as I adore cake, love coconut and love it even more if it is paired with chocolate. I can’t even recall when I first had a lamington or where, and, truth be told, I had no idea they were even called “lamingtons” until I stumbled upon a picture of/recipe for them on Cookstr two years ago and recognized them instantly. I was extremely pleased.
Armed with a name I could Google and search for in the indexes of my cookbooks, I was surprised, and perhaps just the tiniest bit dismayed, to discover a myriad of lamington recipes. I had naively assumed that I alone suffered from lamington obsession. Not so. Martha Stewart has jammy lamingtons (totally traditional, by the way — the inclusion of jam — but so not my thing), as does Dan Pepard in his book Short and Sweet. And Karen Demasco had cupcake-shaped ones in The Craft of Baking — to name just a few.But despite the vast number of lamington recipes I perused, I knew after reading only a few, what they all lacked and what mine would inevitably include: coconut cake. Loving coconut as I do, it seemed wrong to merely cover the outside of the treat in it, when the inside could so easily be coconut-flavored as well. With that goal in mind, I developed a cake calling for coconut oil, as well as butter, for the fat, coconut extract, instead of vanilla, for flavoring and cream of coconut, instead of milk, sour cream, etc., for the liquid. And not comfortable throwing away the half-can of coconut cream, leftover after having made the cake, I also included it in the chocolate coating. The result is a deliciously moist, flavorful cake, coated in a more subtly-flavored chocolate coating and rolled in slightly crunchy, unsweetened coconut — a topping that hints, now, at what lies within and adds the perfect texture to an already perfect concoction.
- Coconut cake:
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 stick of unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsps coconut extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup cream of coconut such as Coco Lopez, stirred with a fork until pourable
- Chocolate Coconut Coating:
- 3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- scant 1/2 cup coconut cream this should be about how much cream you have left over after having used one cup for the cake
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
- 3 to 4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch pan (or spray with cooking spray), line with parchment and butter (or spray) the paper. Set aside.
- Sift the flours, baking powder and salt together. Whisk briefly after sifting to confirm the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, cream the butter, oil, sugar and extract together until fluffy. Add the eggs and the yolk one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the cream of coconut, and beginning and ending with the dry. Beat for an additional 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the ingredients a final stir with a rubber spatula.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smooth the top with a small offset spatula and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let the cake cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pan has cooled enough to handle. Flip the cake onto the rack and invert it onto another rack. Once cool, place in the refrigerator or freezer overnight (cold cake is much easier to cut into squares and dip into chocolate coating).
- To make the chocolate coconut coating: Sift the confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and salt into a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Pour the coconut cream into a liquid measuring cup (if the cream is not pourable, stir it with a fork first). Add boiling water to the measuring cup until you have 2/3 of a cup of liquid. Add the liquid to a small saucepan along with the butter and over medium heat, melt the butter and warm the liquid. Once melted and warm, pour the liquid over the sugar and cocoa powder, and whisk until smooth. Rinse the saucepan you just used (no reason to dirty another) and fill it halfway with water. place it over medium heat and place the bowl of warm chocolate coconut coating in the saucepan (ie: prepare a bain-marie). This will keep the coating fluid as you dip.
- To assemble: Place the shredded coconut in a shallow bowl. Remove the cake from the refrigerator/freezer. using a sharp knife, trim the sides of the cake. Slice the cake into 24 squares (for larger pieces) or 28 (for smaller pieces).
- Working one square at a time, and using a large fork (or two) or a slotted spoon, carefully lower the cake into the chocolate coating. Gently move the cake around in the chocolate till completely coated. Carefully lift the cake out of the coating, letting any excess drip off, and transfer the square to the bowl of coconut (don't fret if the coating suffers a bit from being manhandled - the coconut will cover up most imperfections).
- Using a spoon, scoop up the coconut and pour it over the cake (you can also just roll the cake around in the coconut - you just want to try to avoid actually touching the cake with anything but the coconut). once coconut covered, use a fork (or spoon, tweezers, etc. - whatever allows you to lift the square without disturbing the coating) to transfer the coated cake to a cooling rack, until dry, about 1 to 2 hours.
- Lamingtons will keep for about 3 days or so, tightly covered on the counter. You might also try freezing them for up to two weeks (first on a cookie sheet, and then, once frozen, transfer them (in a single layer) to a zip-top bag. I'm a big fan of freezing. Let the lamingtons come to room temperature before serving.