Pistachio Coconut Cake with Whipped Coconut Cream

Ok, here’s the recipe for the multi-step but worth-it Passover (and year-round) gluten- and flour-free, high-protein, dairy-free, pareve cake.  There are many steps, none of them difficult, but together they make a worthy and interesting dessert (or snack, or breakfast, or whatever.)

Pistachio Coconut Cake with Whipped Coconut Cream

  • 10 eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ tsp granulated (not kosher) salt
  • (zest of one lemon or one orange – this is optional, see note 1)
  • 1 cup finely ground pistachios (see note 2)
  • 1 cup finely ground coconut (see note 3)
  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated (see note 4)
  • (2-3 Tbs sugar, if you want to sweeten the whipped coconut cream)
  • (a little orange zest, if you want to flavor the coconut cream)
  • (extra flaked toasted coconut, if you want it for garnish or mixed into coconut cream)

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a scrupulously clean bowl, making sure not to get any yolk into the whites.  Put the yolks into a mixing bowl (either use an upright mixer or a good hand mixer) and use the whip to beat the yolks until they get thick and light yellow.  Add in the honey and salt and beat until the mixture is very thick and ribbons when dropped.  Add the nut and coconut meals (and the optional zest) and beat until well mixed and still thick.  Set aside.  Put the whites either in a different mixing bowl or transfer the yolks to another bowl and wash the bowl very well and dry with a clean towel before putting the whites into it.  Thoroughly wash the whip and dry well.  Put a dishtowel into very hot water then wring out and wrap around the bottom of the bowl with egg whites in it.  Whip the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage.  Sprinkle the sugar into the whites, while the whip is going (be very careful not to catch your hand in the mixer).  Continue to whip until the whites reach stiff peaks.  While whites are whipping, line a baking sheet (with a lip) with parchment paper (you can use aluminum foil if you don’t have parchment, but the paper is preferable) and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Carefully, with a slow and gentle hand, fold the yolks/nut combo into the whites.  You can either do this using a spatula or using the mixer paddle on its slowest speed.  Evenly spread the batter onto the prepared pan.  Place the pan in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10-30 minutes, checking at intervals being careful not to slam the door, until cake is very lightly browned and springs back when gently nudged in the center with a fingertip (if you are not comfortable with this method, a toothpick inserted should come out clean).  Remove from oven and allow to cool on the pan.  While cake is cooling, open both cans of coconut milk.  Carefully skim solidified fat from the top of the cans and put in mixing bowl.  Using the whip attachment, whip the coconut ‘cream’ until it is thick, like whipped cream.  If you want to add sugar or flaked coconut, add it now and whip it in.  Slowly and carefully peel the cake off the paper, replacing it back onto the paper on the baking pan.  Spread 3/4s of the cream evenly onto the cake, leaving a 1” edge along one long side.  Starting on the other side, roll the cake slowly and carefully.  It may crack some, don’t worry – it’ll be fine.  When the roll is complete, place it onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap it tightly, think a big fat sweet sausage.  Freeze it for at least 2 hours.  Half an hour before serving, remove cake from freezer, unwrap plastic wrap and place onto a cutting board.  Use a very sharp big knife, and cut the cake into thinnish slices.  Garnish each slice with a small dollop of remaining whipped coconut cream, flaked coconut if using, mint if desired, an orange supreme if desired.

Notes:

  1.  This cake is very rich and all those nuts can make it taste very heavy.  The citrus zest will help lighten the flavor but is not necessary.  I recommend using only organic citrus if you are using the skin, and wash the fruit well before zesting.
  2. You can buy pistachio meal or make your own.  If you choose the latter, it can be laborious but worth it.  First, use raw unsalted nutmeats.  Put on a cookie sheet (I always use parchment paper when doing jobs like this, it makes clean-up easy) in a 400 degree oven for ~10 minutes, checking after 5, until they are lightly toasted.  Nuts burn fast so watch carefully.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  When they are cool, chop them in a food processor.   Then, using a coffee grinder (clean yours by grinding a small piece of matzah in it then wiping it out well) grind until the nuts are the texture of flour.  Don’t go too long, it will start to become more like a paste.  Measure what you need and keep the rest in an air-tight container in the freezer.
  3. You can use raw coconut without toasting it but the toasting adds a nice flavor.  Buy plain, unsweetened flaked coconut.  Spread onto a cookie sheet and put in a 300 degree oven.  Coconut goes from white to nicely toasted to burned black very quickly.  Check every couple of minutes and remove right away when it is lightly browned.  When it is cool, grind it in the coffee grinder to a flour texture.  Measure what you need and keep the rest in an airtight container in the freezer.
  4. I have tried several brands of coconut milk and find that the Whole Foods Organic coconut milk does not work well for this recipe.  It comes too emulsified and the ‘cream’ does not separate and solidify enough.  Try another brand, try several till you find just the right one for you.
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