Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Coconutty Christmas - Coconut & Citrus Snowman Cake and Coconut Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Christmas is here! It's just hours away from us in Sydney, and I can't believe how quickly it has crept up on me. I'm very pleased with the amount of Christmas baking I've managed to squeeze in this year, with the mini gingerbread houses, fruit mince slice, Christmas tree cupcakes and my gingerbread igloo. It feels weird to be finally at the end of my Christmas-themed baking, and it will be hard to snap out of decorating everything in red, white and green!
So, for my final Christmas baking post of the year, I'm sharing the two recipes that I baked up just in time for Christmas. I don't like doing things at the last minute, so of course the obvious choice for a dessert would be cakes and cookies. Citrus and coconut cakes, shaped like snow men thanks to a cute little cake tin I picked up with my Mum. The cake is super easy and is coated in the most luxurious salted buttercream, a genius idea for a buttercream that the most awesome Karen from Citrus and Candy was kind enough to share with me. She made this salted buttercream with a rich butter cake for the Sydney bloggers' Xmas party, and as soon as I tasted that sexy, sexy buttercream, I knew I had to try it for myself.
And for the cookies, a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa for coconut thumbprint cookies. I hadn't really watched her show much, but my Mum LOVES her and when I saw these cookies on her show I thought they were just perfect for Christmas day. They look like cute little jam centred snow balls, with a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread dough and lovely smelling toasted coconut. My mum practically crowed with delight when she heard I was making these cookies.
Citrus Coconut Butter Cake
(adapted from Lemon Coconut Cake from the Essential Baking Cookbook)

1 1/2 cups (185g) self raising flour
1/2 cup (45g) desiccated coconut
Zest of 2 lemons
Zest of 1 lime
1 cup caster sugar
125g butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 cup (250ml) milk

Citrus & Candy's Salted Buttercream
250g salted butter (I used Girgar)
400-500g icing sugar, sifted
table salt to taste
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease a deep 20 cm round cake tin and line with baking paper(I split the batter in two and filled two greased and dusted with flour snow man shaped cake tins).
Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the coconut, zest, sugar, butter, eggs and milk. Mix well with a wooden spoon until smooth. Pour into the tin(s) and smooth the surface.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely
Beat butter until light and fluffy with an electric beater. Gradually add icing sugar, beating to combine until the icing reaches your desired texture (stiff enough not to run but smooth enough to spread easily). Add extra salt if needed and beat to combine, I added about 1/4 tsp extra.
To make the snow man cakes: spread icing over the cake evenly, smoothing with a spatula. Decorate with toasted coconut, sprinkles and candy.
For the decorations I used chocolate and strawberry sprinkles for the scarf, smarties for the buttons and an orange smartie for his nose :)
Sultanas for his mouth, choc chips for his eyes and I toasted some desiccated coconut under the grill for 5 minutes for his beanie, I then finished it off with a fluffy hem using vanilla pashmak (persian fairy floss). I loved how completely straightforward the baking and decorating for this cake was, it meant that I could do it with as little stress as possible, which was such a relief on a stinking hot and rushed day. The cake came out of the oven golden brown with a fluffy interior, with the rich aroma of coconut and citrus zest. I actually made two snowmen, and one of them cracked in half because I picked it up before it had cooled! Nothing that couldn't be fixed with a bit of buttercream though. The buttercream was to die for, thank you so much Karen!
Right, on to the thumbprint cookies. Though I think in Australia they'd probably be known more as jam drop cookies. With the coconut it made them seem like a hybrid of jam drop biscuits and coconut macaroons. The thing that makes these biscuits SO good is the obscene amount of butter in them. I'm not going to beat around the bush, there is nearly half a kilo of butter in one batch of these biscuits. But remember the recipes makes quite a lot of biscuits, and then do what I do and lock this information into the carefully guarded space in your brain which I like to call the butter vault, where I happily forget the amount of butter that I put into all the desserts I make.
But all that butter really does make a difference. These biscuits are amazing, they literally melt in your mouth. The combination of the fluffy, buttery shortbread with toasted coconut and jam is just the perfect thing to go with a warm Christmassy drink. I jazzed them up a little with some fancy jams, cherry and blueberry, as well as the usual apricot. I love my jam.

Jam & Coconut Thumbprint Cookies
(recipe by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style)
455g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, beated with 1 tbsp of water for egg wash
200g shredded coconut
Jam of your choice, I used cherry, blueberry and apricot
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until are just combined and then add the vanilla and beat to combine. Sift flour and salt in a separate bowl and then gradually add to the butter and sugar, with the mixer on low speed. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump mixture on a floured surface and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins.
Roll the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls (I made mine a tiny bit smaller, maybe around an inch), dip each ball into egg wash and then roll in coconut.
Place on a lined baking tray and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop a quarter teaspoon of jam into each indentation.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the coconut turns golden brown. Cool and serve.
The two recipes on these post definitely highlight the reason why I love cakes and cookies so much, they are so devilishly rewarding for minimal effort. These biscuits are the perfect post-Christmas lunch nibble, and I hope that A's family will love them with their cups of tea. I just won't mention how much butter is in them...
This might not be my last post for the year, but just in case, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Starting my blog this year has been a truly amazing, rewarding experience, and to every single person who even bothered to spend a second on this little blog, thank you so so much, you're the best. Bring on 2010!

xx Steph :)
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  1. AWWWWW that's way too cute to eat!
    Have an awesome Xmas and new year to you too!
    (but I guess I'll see you on monday!)

  2. That snowman looks so cuddly =) but seeing as he's not cuddle-able then being able to eat him should be pretty good too. Merry Christmas, Steph!

  3. Merry Christmas Steph! What yummy treats. Looking forward to reading more in the new year :)

  4. Merry Christmas to you and your family! I must say, your snowman cake has but a big smile to my face this Christmas morning! It is just so adorable and looking forward to you sneaking in one more post before the new year?!

  5. Merry Xmas Steph! You have outdone yourself with all the xmas baking! Looking forward to read more in the new year!

  6. the coconut biscuits look really good, merry xmas Steph

  7. Merry Christmas dude! love that shot of all the butter mmm butter

  8. Hee hee Merry Xmas to Steph and Mr Snowman!! Here is to a good year of baking and many more to come ^^!

  9. The snowman is adorable Steph! So cuuuute! Merry Xmas to you and your family too!

  10. Merry Christmas Steph! Christmas must be awesome at your house :D Oh and I agree, good butter makes all the difference! There are a few brands that I always buy because they are exceptional!

  11. Merry Christmas Steph! Wha a great snowman :)

  12. What a gorgeous cake! I bags eating his nose :) The thumbprint cookies sound delicious too. Merry Christmas and here's to more delicious adventures in 2010!

  13. Can Mr Snowman stay a night in Shinobi Valley? Only a night though, we might eat him otherwise and I don't want to hurt such a charming character...

  14. Merry Christmas Steph :) the snowman is very cute, but it's those cookies that stole my heart. Butter vault, indeed, it's a good thing this exists or we'd never bake anything!

  15. you've been busy baking this x'mas for sure! how cute is the snowman and well, the butter, i try not to think about it too much, just think about how tasty things are with butter. anyway, love your blog so definitely look forward to following it in the new year. merry christmas!

  16. I just love all your Christmas themed baking. Wish we could have Christmas every month. Those cookies look great - how can you go wrong with jam? Here's to lots more baking in 2010!

  17. What a cute snowman!! I guess if you wanted to make more Christmas themed food - Christmas in July? Ready to serve desserts are definitely something I look for on days like Christmas (although I was doing all my toffee work on Christmas - but my family didn't care). Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Steph!

  18. Wowowowowow amazing job!

    Happy New Year!

  19. Yas - Haha you might think so but we gobbled him up good! He was so tasty! :)

    mademoiselle délicieuse - Haha well he did have some very fluffy icing and fairy floss on him! Merry Christmas! :)

    Y - :) Thanks! Merry Christmas to you too, always looking forward to more of your creations

    Trissa - Same to you! Aww :) Haha maybe even two posts!

    billy - Merry Christmas! Hehe thanks, it was fun! Same here!

    Betty - Yay thanks! Merry xmas!

    chocolatesuze - Merry Christmas! Butter so gooood...

    FFichiban - Hehe Mr Snowman didn't make it to Christmas night! Cheers!

    Forager - Oh thank you! He was so cute, I felt bad beheading him! Same to you!

    Lorraine - Haha it's not too large an affair :) Gotta love good quality butter!

    Ellie - Merry Christmas Ellie! Thank you :)

    Helen (Grab Your Fork) - Haha thanks! The thumbprint cookies were evil, I kept eating them even though I saw how much butter went into them! Cheers :)

    The Ninja - Haha unfortunately Mr Snowman has been missing since Christmas, around lunchtime...

    Conor - Merry Christmas! I agree, what's the fun if you can't ignore all the badness?

    panda - I agree, everything tastes so good, it's worth ignoring the unhealthiness of it! Aw thank you! Merry Christmas!

    Julia - I agree! Totally doing Christmas in July this year. The more jam the better I say!

    Anita - Hehe thanks! Definitely up for Christmas in July! Your crochembouche was amazing, so worth the time and effort!

    Karine - Thank you! Happy New Year to you too!


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