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Coconut Snowball Cake with Chocolate Trees

February 13, 2013

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It’s winter in Boston. And that means snow.

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LOTS of snow.

Last weekend we got hit with a big blizzard that dumped almost 30 inches of snow on Boston. Offices were closed, public transportation was down, and the worst of the worst happened….even bars were closed.

After drinking all the bourbon I had in the house Friday night with the help of some friends, I was okay being hunkered down in my apartment all day Saturday to recover as the snow continued to fall. But by Sunday, the cabin fever was at its worst and I had to get out of the house. First I took Rugby exploring.

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Then I tried to conquer this.

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That’s my car….somewhere underneath there. My poor little Jeep was waiting to be saved. As a single lady, the only thing I dread about snow is shoveling. That’s a man’s job. But I’m an independent woman and I was determined to prove I could do it myself. I got this far before trying to bribe people with salted fudge brownies to help me finish.

Salted fudge brownies ALWAYS do the trick. But I think next time, I’ll make this cake seeing as its blizzard appropriate. I made this at Christmas for my family and it was a hit. The cake is an Ina Garten recipe, and as always, the Barefoot Contessa didn’t fail me. The cake was moist and frosting plentiful. Since I was home in Breckenridge for Christmas, I added the trees along the edges to be more festive. The original recipe called for it to be made into cupcakes, which is probably a little less messy, but the cake is over the top and looks like a giant snowball, which is pretty darn fun.      





Coconut Cake, recipe courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa

For the Cake:

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

For the chocolate trees:

  • Over a double boiler, melt 12 oz chocolate.
  • Remove from the double boiler and let the chocolate get lukewarm (it should be soft enough to drip/lightly squeeze out of a piping bag but not so hard that you have to use a lot of pressure to get it out of the bag)
  • Lay out a couple layers of wax paper on a flat surface (or even better, on flat cookie sheets).
  • Draw out your trees with the melted chocolate.
  • Put the chocolate trees in the fridge until they are hard.
  • Using gloves (so you don’t melt the trees with your hands or get finger prints on them), squirt some chocolate on the backs of your trees and place them on the cake.
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