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If you have a crush on the famous Indian pudding, kheer, there is a good chance you will like this pina colada version. Instead of cooked rice, this milk based dessert gets its boost of flavors from tinned pineapple and grated coconut.  You may use fresh pineapple if you manage to get a very ripe one and happen to be skilled with a knife. The original recipe from Manjula’s Kitchen tells you to caramelize the fruit by cooking it with sugar but I felt that the canned pineapple was sweet enough without the extra caramel. This special kheer was my offering to Lord Krishna on the occasion of his birthday, Janmashtami as it is believed that Krishna was particularly fond of homemade dairy stuff as a child.

PINEAPPLE COCONUT KHEER

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cup full cream milk

3/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup freshly grated coconut

1 1/2 tablespoons corn flour

1/2 cup pineapple, diced

1/4 cup pineapple, crushed

1 tablespoon sliced almonds

6 Maraschino cherries

Method:

  • In a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat, boil the milk, coconut milk, sugar and grated coconut.

  • After it comes to a boil, lower heat to medium and let it boil for about 18-20 minutes, stir occasionally.

  • In a small bowl, mix combine corn flour well with 2 tablespoons water, making sure there are no lumps.

  • Add corn flour to boiling milk, mix it well and boil for 3 to 4 minutes stirring occasionally. Turn off heat.

  • Drain the syrup from canned pineapple, and slice them into about 3/4 inch cubes, save half the cubes.

  • Lightly crush the other half into a chunky pulp. Reserve the pineapple in a bowl at room temperature.

  • Carefully fold the pineapple cubes, crushed pineapple and milk mixture together until well combined.

  • Chill for at least two hours before serving. Garnish with pineapple cubes, almond slices and cherries.

Pineapple Coconut Kheer

After last year’s success of my 7-day Tour de Maurice, I wanted to repeat the experience for my upcoming birthday. It did not take me long to map out my travel plan and organize a tailor-made package for my first ever visit to Rodrigues. After hearing several reviews from different sources, I decided to trash the custom made family tours to plan my excursions and select my accommodation all by myself. The basis of the plan was to have minimum connection with the external world and nothing to remind me of work and related issues for a full 5 days!

After an uneventful flight aboard ATR, we landed in Rodrigues past noon and we immediately whisked off to Pirates Lodge, located only a few minutes from St Francois beach, well away from crowds and traffic. We were the only residents there and were quite happy to have the whole lodge to ourselves. Rooms were clean with comfortable beds and thankfully they have AC and fans on both floors. Though we stayed on B&B basis, food was not a problem as we found that there were quite a few snacks within reasonable walking distance whenever we did not feel like cooking.

Waking up early for my morning walk on the beach became my daily routine as I had no trouble getting up at dawn after a good night’s sleep. You can hike down to Trou d’Argent and Anse Bouteille by following the yellow markers on this easy 30-minutes walk or go further north towards Pointe Cotton through beautiful beaches like Anse Ally or Fumier for a swim before breakfast. Breakfast gets served everyday around 8 and is a simple one with bread/butter/ jam, pastries, tea/ coffee/ juice and a fresh fruit platter. It kept us full till lunch time especially when we planned to go on long drives.

Our 4×4 rental allowed to visit most of the northern and southern coast lines and discover the usual tourist spots as well as several roadside stalls selling pickles, salted fish, honey, dried octopus and handicraft. On our 4th day, we booked a very enriching tour with Rodrigues Friendly where we introduced to the typical aspects of Rodriguan culture through activities like octopus fishing, learning the basics of accordion, basket weaving and the customary Séga Tambour. It even included a culinary hands-on experience where we could actually bake our own tourte, a closed short crust pie filled with caramelized papaya and coconut.

I was not fortunate enough to taste the traditional gâteau maïs during my trip to Rodrigues. However, as a memento of this memorable visit and to honour all the lovely people I encountered during my stay, I wish to share this recipe, from Dans Ma Cuisine Mauricienne et d’Ailleurs, which it seems, is as close to the genuine gâteau as it gets. No need for me to say that I cant wait to go back for another taste of authentic cuisine Rodriguaise which uses only pure, unprocessed ingredients straight from their gardens or fresh catch from local fishermen for simple yet amazingly flavourful dishes.

GATEAU MAIS DE RODRIGUES

Ingredients:

100g butter, softened

250g white caster sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

250g fine cornmeal/ polenta

100g desiccated coconut

3 tablespoons full cream milk

30g raisins, soaked in water

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180oC. Grease and line a 8-inch or 9-inch round sandwich tin with parchment paper.

  • Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Add egg yolks and beat well till it is pale yellow.

  • Fold in cornmeal and milk into the butter mixture until everything is well combined and homogenous.

  • eat egg whites until they form soft peaks and carefully fold into batter until there is no trace of whites.

  • Fold in raisins and pour the batter gently into the prepared tin. Bake for about 50 minutes until golden.

  • Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes in tin before turning out. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

With love from Rodrigues

Ever since the Tres Leches cake became my signature bake, I’ve had requests to make it for every single celebration I’ve been invited to. It, therefore, only made sense that I would do a Tres Leches cake on my own birthday but with a twist. While I remain convinced that the Tres Leches is best baked as a whole in a large pan, I was curious to see how the cupcake version would fare. The Kitchen Mccabe recipe makes 12 regular sized coconut cupcakes but I filled the batter into 7 jumbo muffin cases though I guess I overfilled them slightly to give them that puffed up, bakery-style look. I would admit that I did make the soaking process a tad more complicated so it would be probably best to fill them just up to 2/3 capacity to make way for the cakes to rise to the rim of the baking cups.

For the milk mixture, I swapped half the amount of heavy cream for cream of coconut so it should have been, on all accounts, a quarto leches cake but let’s not worry about that. While these were slightly more dense than my go-to recipe, they did manage to soak up most of the milk sauce without going soggy; I have a good mind to skimp on the butter next time to see if they turn out to have a more absorbent texture. Overall, my birthday cupcakes happened to be quite photogenic, exactly as I pictured them – with a swirl of whipped cream and a candied cherry on top!

TRES LECHES CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

For the Milk Mixture

1 14 oz. can condensed milk

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

8 tablespoons butter

1 cup fresh whole milk

4 eggs, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cream Topping

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup shredded coconut

16 Maraschino cherries

Method:

  • For the milk mixture, pour condensed milk into a large, microwave safe bowl. Microwave 12 minutes.
  • Remove and stir at 3 minute interval. Stir in evaporated milk, heavy cream, coconut cream and vanilla.

  • For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with regular cupcake liners.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place butter and milk in a saucepan.

  • Heat on medium till the butter has completely melted. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs.
  • Add sugar and beat together till glossy and pale, for about 5 minutes. Add in half of the flour mixture.

  • Add in half of the milk mixture and mix in. Add in the remaining flour mixture and then milk mixture.
  • Mix until just combined. Divide the batter between the liners, make sure to keep them under half full.

  • If they are filled more than half full, the batter will overflow when cooked. Bake in the preheated oven.
  • Bake cakes for 12 to 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

  • Let cool for a few minutes, then poke a large amount of holes in each cupcake, using a wooden skewer.
  • The more holes, the more milk will be able to soak. Pour a few tablespoons of milk mixture over each.

  • Let each spoonful soak in before adding more. Divide the milk mixture evenly between the cupcakes.
  • Refrigerate the cupcakes and allow the milk to really soak into the cupcake, at least 3 hours or more.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the shredded coconut in an even layer over a baking sheet.
  • Place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven and watch closely. The coconut will brown quickly.

  • When most of the coconut is a light brown, remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Place heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

  • Place the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe a swirling of cream on top of each chilled cupcake.
  • Coat sides of  whipped cream with toasted coconut and top with a maraschino cherry. Serve chilled.

Happy Birthday to Me!

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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