Coconut, Chocolate, and Cake, oh my!
step by step
“cajun style” coconut shrimp!
Perhaps the heat out here or lack of swimmable ocean/lake water makes me dream of exotic island coasts, full of monkeys swinging from trees and fresh coconuts ready to enjoy. Or maybe I just like to beat things with a hammer. Whatever the reason, I’m on a coconut kick at the moment. It was also a request from a reader, so I have TWO more recipes using fresh coconut (they actually call for flaked or shredded store-bought, but I just like to make things difficult!). After making that awesome Thai Shrimp Bisque
(multiple times, in fact), I had this beautiful open coconut staring me in the face. After spooning a little out for Ryley and myself to enjoy, I realized that I didn’t want to waste the rest of the tasty meat. Coconuts are a great source of fiber, minerals, nutrients, protein, and even fat. Yes, although they have a large amount of saturated fat, it’s actually the GOOD kind (I didn’t even know that was possible). It’s a different size chain of saturated fat – unlike the kind in meat, milk, eggs, and vegetable oils – that actually has no negative effect on cholesterol, and it helps protect against heart disease! So yay for yummy foods that have health benefits as well!
Naturally, I had to take all that healthiness and throw it out the window by shoving it on top of a fabulous piece of cake! I like to pretend that having healthy ingredients in a bad-for-you dish help cancel each other out, plus I heard that if you close your eyes when you eat dessert it doesn’t count. If you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen, right? 🙂 I found a super simple recipe for German Chocolate Skillet Cake that actually uses a boxed cake as the base. I love making food from scratch, but sometimes (and especially with things I’m not as comfortable with like desserts) it’s nice to have a user-friendly recipe. Plus, I love the fact that our restaurant quality cookware can go from the stove-top to the oven (and the stainless can even be put in the broiler!), so recipes like this are great for less cleanup!
Whether it was because the coconut was fresh or because I simply have a heavy pouring hand from all my years of bartending, the “top” of the cake at the bottom of the pan had a bit too much liquid. When I baked it, the excess liquid made a weird squished/creamy look, but it still tasted delicious! Also, I’ve apparently had my brown sugar for too long because when I opened the box, it was one big solid block. Rather than go all the way back to the store, I decided to get my daily exercise by chiseling away at it like an angry coal miner. Brown sugar was flying everywhere (no joke, found some in my hair) and the box was fairly trashed afterward with multiple knife wounds where I missed slightly or used too much force. I even switched hands to make sure my guns get an even workout, haha! I was in Target already, and the local one now has a HUGE grocery area, so I just grabbed a box of German Chocolate Cake mix from Betty Crocker, and yes it IS super moist just like it says. Everyone at worked raved about how moist the cake was, but unfortunately I couldn’t take credit (even though I did at first, haha). The only hard part of the whole recipe was the task I put on myself anyway – fresh coconut. Using a sharp knife, I separated as much meat from the shell as possible in decent sized squares, then rubbed them on my Microplane Adjustable Coarse Grater to create shredded cheese-like pieces. It took the entire white coconut to get the 7 ounces I needed (but that’s probably because there was a good amount left in the shell), but flavor-wise it was definitely worth it.
Since I found two recipes at the same time that I really liked (or because I’m a fatty!), I had also planned to make Coconut Shrimp with the shredded coconut meat. I’m a very
stubborn determined person, so once I realized I had used the entire coconut, of course I just had to go buy another one. At least that means I can also make more soup with the milk, woohoo! Dipping was easy enough with my Coating Trays and Tool, and I had lined the Bar Pan with Parchment Paper for a much easier cleanup. There must’ve been too much whipped egg on the shrimp or maybe the fresh coconut was too moist for this one too, but it took a lot longer for them to cook, and pieces of the “batter” stuck to the paper instead of the shrimp when I flipped them. I was also waiting for them to turn that typical golden brown you usually see with coconut shrimp, but they were still as white as my behind in winter. Since this recipe is from the old It’s Good For You cookbook, I forgot that there is no oil or deep frying involved, so my shrimp simply went straight to golden black instead of brown (because I was waiting for them to catch fire or something I guess). When we were little, my mom called any food that accidentally burnt “cajun style,” so sometimes we enjoyed cajun style chicken, cajun style meatloaf, and even cajun style cupcakes!
The dipping sauce made the dish, though. Trader Joes didn’t have either of the preserves that the recipe called for, so I grabbed apricot and figured it would still complement the shrimp. I liked the chopped jalapeño for a burst of flavor, and I’m such a spicy girl, I’d probably add even more next time. Not a bad starter dish overall, but I think I still favor the cake! Who knows, I just might serve the cake as the appetizer at my next gathering instead, haha! As usual, when the recipes are not in a cookbook available for purchase, I post them… so enjoy!
German Chocolate Skillet Cake
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 package (7 ounces) flaked coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (18.25 ounces) German chocolate or chocolate cake mix (plus ingredients to make cake)
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine brown sugar and milk in large bowl. Add coconut and pecans; mix well. Melt butter in Executive (12-in.) Skillet (do not use stainless cookware) over medium heat, tilting pan to coat bottom evenly. Drop coconut mixture in spoonfuls over bottom of Skillet; pat into an even layer, forming a smooth surface.
2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions in Classic Batter Bowl. Gently pour batter evenly over coconut layer in skillet, spreading to edge. Bake 25-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven using Oven Mitts.
3. Loosen edges of cake from skillet. Carefully invert onto large, heat-proof serving plate. Use Classic Scraper to remove any topping that might remain in bottom of skillet; spread over top of cake. Cool completely. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Yield: 16 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 370, Total Fat 21g, Saturated Fat 8g, Cholesterol 55mg, Carbohydrate 41g, Protein 5g, Sodium 300mg, Fiber 1g
© 2012 The Pampered Chef used under license.
annnnnd… if you wanna’ try your luck with this one:
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh jalapeño pepper
1/2 cup pineapple or peach preserves
1 pound uncooked shell-on large shrimp (about 21-25 count), peeled and deveined
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1. Juice lime using Juicer or Citrus Press to measure 1 tablespoon juice. Remove seeds and finely chop jalapeño pepper using Food Chopper. In 3-Cup Prep Bowl, combine lime juice, jalapeño pepper and preserves; mix well. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line Rectangle Stone with Parchment Paper. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on. In Small Batter Bowl, beat egg whites on high speed of electric mixer until soft peaks form. (Tips of peaks will curl down when beaters are lifted.)
3. Place cornstarch and coconut on two separate plates. Holding shrimp by the tail, coat shrimp with cornstarch. Dip shrimp in egg whites then in coconut to coat. Arrange in a single layer on baking stone. Bake 16-17 minutes or until edges of coconut are deep golden brown, turning once after 8 minutes. Serve with sauce.
Yield: about 2 dozen
Nutrients per serving (3 shrimp, 1 tablespoon sauce): Calories 240 (25% from fat), Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 4.5g, Cholesterol 120mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Protein 18g, Sodium 180mg, Fiber less than 1g
Diabetic exchanges per serving (3 shrimp, 1 tablespoon sauce): 1 starch, 1 fruit, 2 low-fat meat (2 carb)
1. Wear plastic gloves when working with jalapeño peppers. The juice from the peppers can create a burning sensation on the skin.
2. To easily peel and devein the shrimp, insert the split blade of the Grapefruit Knife on either side of the shell on the back of the shrimp. With a rocking motion, cut and split the shell up to the tail to easily peel off the shell, leaving tail intact. With pointed end of the split blade, lift out vein. Rinse shrimp under cold running water.
3. Use the Egg Separator, which conveniently attaches to the Small Batter Bowl, to easily separate the whites from the yolks. Eggs separate best when at refrigerated temperature, but egg whites beat to their fullest volume at room temperature. Do not allow any egg yolk to get into the whites or they will not beat properly.
4. When coating the shrimp with the flaked coconut, it may be necessary to lightly press the coconut onto the shrimp.
5. Use the Bamboo Tongs or Chef’s Tongs to easily turn shrimp halfway through baking.
© 2004 The Pampered Chef, Ltd. All rights reserved.
**some Pampered Chef tools used in recipe were changed to reflect comparable items currently offered.