Bountilicious Babycakes

Coconut is one of those foods that seems to polarise people.  We either love it or hate it.  Personally, I prefer my coconut applied topically – coconut oil shampoos, body butters, scrubs etc.  As a food, though, I’m a little ambivalent.  Its flavour and texture can be too dominant in a dish, especially desiccated coconut.  Enter red fruits and chocolate, to the rescue.  Two names for you: Bounty Bar and Cherry Ripe.  Now, I never eat chocolate candy bars but the flavour combinations of these two are pretty convincing.  Somehow chocolate succeeds in making the coconut much more subtle and not overpowering. Red fruits add the right amount of sweetness or tartness as a bonus.  There is also something to be said for buying organic desiccated coconut.  I’ve found it to have a superior flavour but maybe I’ve just been lucky.

A little while ago, I made some cherry ripe muffins.  So I had some leftover desiccated coconut that I did not know what to do with.  Bounty bars kept popping into my head as I deliberated and hey presto! bountilicious babycakes were born.  They are intensely chocolately, subtly coconutty, moist and not too sweet.  Very moreish!  Since the original cherry ripe muffin recipe was published, I’ve taken to whizzing the coconut in a grinder or food processor until it’s fine.  The final result is much more moist and delicious.  I’d highly recommend doing it, as it makes a huge difference.  I also used silicon standard sized friand moulds for the babycakes just because they look like cute little souffles but you could easily substitute cupcake liners.  If so, make sure you place the cupcake liners in muffin moulds.  This ensures they will hold their shape during baking.  The number of cakes will depend on the size and shape you choose.  I managed to get a baker’s dozen (i.e. lucky 13) from the recipe below.

The chocolate I used for this recipe is Valrhona’s Gran Couva.  It’s really smooth and rich and is perfect with the coconut.  Try to use any good quality dark chocolate or couverture you like, with at least 64% cocoa for this recipe, as the result will truly be worth it.

Yield: 12 – 15 cakes

120 grams desiccated coconut (unsweetened, preferably organic)
3 eggs, separated
125 grams sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste or extract
250 grams good quality dark chocolate couverture (min. 64% cocoa)
200 grams pure cream

Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Grind the coconut in a grinder or food processor until fine.
Whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks and set aside.  Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla paste until thick and light.
Roughly chop the chocolate couverture in small pieces and melt in a bowl over hot, but not boiling, water.  Stir until melted and remove from the heat, setting it aside to cool slightly.  Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a microwave at 50% power only until three-quarters melted.  Remove from the oven and stir until fully melted and allow to cool.  Whisk the coconut and cream into the egg yolk mixture until combined, then fold in the melted chocolate.  Finally, gently fold in the egg whites until few or no streaks remain.
Fill friand or cupcake liners with the mixture and bake at 160°C for about 30 – 35 minutes.  They will still be soft in the middle but firm up as they cool.   Switch off the oven and leave the cakes inside with the door ajar for about 10 minutes.  They will rise like miniature souffles but will fall again as they start to cool.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the moulds.
You could gild them with a ganache frosting or coconut buttercream, but they are at their best served simply with a dusting of icing sugar.  For a decadent dessert, serve with a dollop of double cream, ice cream, or thick vanilla yoghurt and cherries.   They will keep for a few days stored in an airtight container, in the fridge.  If they last that long!

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