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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Coconut Torte Day

   March 13 was Coconut Torte Day. Oh, yum, I do love coconut! But, what, you may ask, is a torte? I found two rather different variations of tortes: one is a cake made with many eggs and very little flour; the other is a rich, multilayer cake usually covered with cream and fruit or nuts. Either way sounds just perfect to me.
   I am going to make a Pina Colada torte in celebration, which uses shredded coconut as the crust. Of course, not everyone here is very fond of coconut, the number one son is not a big fan, but he is a sweets fan, so I might be able to pull this off. 


 Pina Colada Torte


2 2/3 cups of flaked coconut, separated, toasted
4 tablespoons melted butter

Mix 2 cups of the coconut with the melted butter and press into the bottom of a springform pan. Chill.

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)   
2/3 cup Cream of Coconut which actually weighed 15 ounces
 1/4 cup light rum or 1/8 teaspoon rum flavoring  
 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, well drained   
2 cups (1 pint) whipping Cream, whipped      
Maraschino cherries, optional 

In large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, cream of coconut and rum; stir in 1 cup pineapple. Fold in whipped cream. Pour half the cream mixture into prepared pan; sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut. Top with remaining cream mixture. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm. Gently remove outside ring. Garnish with remaining pineapple, coconut and maraschino cherries if desired.  
   Of course to bump this up a few notches, you can use maraschino cherries marinated in moonshine--they are both legal and available in liquor stores in New York State; thanks to  number two son for that little contribution.
  The mixing was very easy. I learned that 2/3 cup cream of coconut measures out exactly one 15 ounce can--perfect, what would I do with a smidgen of cream of coconut, anyway? Of course, knowing me the way you do, do you really believe I followed the instructions to the "T"? Of course not! I just added the 1/2 cup of coconut right into the mix instead of doing the layer technique, not a big variation, but I try to tell you exactly what I do to get my results.  I also did not purchase crushed pineapple, but ran a 20 ounce can of pineapple chunks through the food processor and let it drain over a pot for about 2 hours. I have never had a problem with this substitution, and I buy the chunks by the case at the local warehouse club; they do not sell crushed pineapple, so I make do with what I can get.
   The torte is now in the freezer, I will garnish it with the very little pineapple and coconut that is left, and put on a maraschino cherry, or two, for anyone who is daring.
   I did contemplate sweetening the whipped cream, but thinking about it, it was going to be combined with sweetened condensed milk, so I let it ride--in other words I used straight whipped cream, no sugar, no vanilla. Tasting the mixture from the drop that was left in the bowl after I poured it into the crust, I am glad I did not sweeten the cream.
   I have made this early enough to enjoy for dessert tonight. And I have a full house, as number three is home for spring break, plus one. The more the merrier when it comes to the dinner table.
    The torte came out awesome, even without the cherries in the photo. They ate the whole thing...okay, not in one sitting, this time.  The husband's recommendation was to not lose the recipe, and it would be awesome in the summer. Both number one and number two asked if it was made of ice cream. I guess, technically, yes it was--although it was whipped cream, frozen. Number one was happy it was not primarily coconut, he likes the addition of pineapple for the pina colada taste much better. Number three asked if I would make that again when he was home over the summer. Of course, being, as his brothers call him, the "Wonder Child" I will certainly honor his request--just to add fodder to his brothers' illusions.
   They all commented that the toasted coconut crust was really good, and a nice change from the standard pie crust or Graham cracker crust, so in the spirit of March madness, I guess I landed a three-pointer! Woo who!
   Let me know how yours turns out.  Until next time--enjoy!

Pina Colada Torte for National Coconut Day.