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Chef Jon Ashton Coconut Cake

Springtime has Officially Arrived in the Kitchen

Layer upon layer of creamy, white chocolate frosting are just the beginning of the sweetness coming to your kitchen this week as Chef Jon Ashton shares his recipe for a truly indulgent coconut cake. It’s reminiscent of springtime sailings and Easter holidays aboard Crystal ships, as well as the signature flavors of luxury island escapes (perhaps, to The Bahamas?). Fresh and light, yet somehow also rich and decadent, this cake is everything your springtime sweet tooth is craving.

As we usher in the season of full bloom, it’s time to refresh our dessert menus and start inspiring our taste buds for the sun-drenched adventures to come. Think coconut cake in the spring and coconut cream candies and Bahamian coconut tarts in the summer months to come. From blossoming gardens to sprawling beaches, coconut pairs perfectly with the season. Check the detailed recipe below and gather your ingredients for Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton, this Sunday, March 21. Join us at 3 p.m. ET on the Crystal Cruises Facebook page. We’ll see you in the kitchen!

Coconut Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
By Chef Jon Ashton 

2 1/4 cups (270 grams) cake flour, sifted 
1 tablespoon (15 ml) baking powder
3/4 (3 ml) teaspoon table salt 
5 large egg whites
1 large egg  
3/4 cup (180 ml) Coco Lopez or coconut cream (the cream used for making Piña Coladas)
4 tablespoons (60 ml) water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract 
12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool
1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar 

For Cake Assembly:
1/4 cup (60 ml) Malibu rum
2 cups (130 grams) coconut flakes

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter and dust with flour.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and place to one side. 

In another bowl, whisk together, egg whites, egg, Coco Lopez, water and vanilla and place to one side.   

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add half of the egg mixture and turn up to high for 30-45 seconds and allow to mix in well. Once mixed, lower to medium speed, and add the other half of the mixture and turn back to high for another 1-2 minutes until mixture looks light and airy. Turn off mixer and add flour mixture and turn mixer back on to low and mix batter. 

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans (about 1 lb. 2 oz. in each pan) and smooth the top with off-set spatula or knife.  Bake in the center of oven for 25 minutes, or until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean.  Be sure to check cakes are evenly browning, some ovens require rotating tins mid baking. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack and let cakes set for 10 minutes. Once cooled, loosen cakes from sides of pans with paring knife, invert cakes onto racks and then re-invert; cool to room temperature about 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, spread the coconut flakes on a large-rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (6-12 minutes) stirring occasionally, until the coconut is toasted to golden brown. I like to check every three minutes as coconut color changes from blonde to golden quickly. Let cool completely.

White Chocolate Frosting

10 ounces (283 grams) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 cups (720 ml) heavy cream, divided 
1/4 cup (28 grams) confectioners’ sugar 
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) coconut extract 

Melt the white chocolate and 1 cup (240 ml) cream in a medium bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from heat and let cool for an hour. 

Add the remaining 2 cups (480 ml) chilled heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and coconut extract to stand mixer and whip until soft peaks. Add the cooled white chocolate mixture and whip on low speed for a few seconds just until the mousse is combined and forms soft peaks again— please be sure you do not over-mix.  Keep chilled in fridge until ready to use. 

Using a long-serrated knife, held so that blade is parallel with work surface, use sawing motion to cut each cake into two even layers. Starting with first cake, carefully lift off top layer and set aside. Brush each layer with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Malibu rum. Using icing spatula, distribute about 3/4 cup (180 ml) filling evenly on cake, spreading filling to very edge of cake and leveling the surface. Carefully place upper cake layer on top of filling; repeat using remaining filling and cake layer.  

Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Press toasted coconut into sides of cake and sprinkle evenly over top. Refrigerate until filling and frosting are set, about 2 hours. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

Serves 10-12.

Crystal’s Crystal@Home: A Virtual Cruise Experience program brings several elements of the renowned Crystal Experience directly to guests, wherever in the world they are. “Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton” represents the culinary excellence found aboard Crystal ships, as some of the greatest travel memories are created over the greatest meals.

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