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Impressive cakes for Easter feasting

In a few weeks we will be celebrating Easter. That means another holiday meal in the midst of COVID-19. Whether dining with family or as a party of two my plan is to observe tradition, giving thanks for all that is good, no matter what. There will be ham, lots of sides, and as holidays go, there will definitely be a special dessert.

When I think of Easter dessert, I think coconut, which probably stems from my love of the coconut cream eggs that, as a child, graced my Easter basket. Those days may be over, but any cake that includes coconut will satisfy nicely.

For those who have never made a cake roll, you really should try it. They are easier than you may think and they look so impressive. This coconut cream version, a light sponge cake with whipped creamy, coconutty filling and frosting, adorned with more coconut, is beautiful. To add a little color, decorate the completed roll with jelly beans.

Carrot cake doesn’t always have coconut as an ingredient, but mine does, along with pineapple and lots of nuts. The cake is moist and the sweet cream cheese frosting is luscious. As a bonus this cake is equally yummy in layers or baked in a 13×9-inch pan.

Coconut Cream

Cake Roll

Cake:

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. coconut extract

3 T. cold water

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Filling/Frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. coconut extract

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (cold)

2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, divided

For Rolling Cake:

1 clean dish towel

1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions: Line a greased 15x10x1-inch baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Grease paper; set aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar and coconut extract and beat 2 minutes or till mixture is thick and lemon colored. Stir in water.

In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Fold gently into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake in preheated 375-degree F. oven, on middle rack, 12 to 14 minutes or till cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and loosen edges with sharp knife.

Lay dish towel on smooth surface and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Carefully turn the hot cake out onto the dish towel so that the paper is on top. Gently pull off the paper. With sharp knife trim off any hard cake edges. Sift powdered sugar over the cake. Roll the cake in the towel, jelly-roll fashion, starting with a short side. Cool completely on wire rack.

Prepare filling/frosting: In chilled bowl of electric mixer, using whisk attachment, mix cream cheese, sugar, salt and coconut extract. Whisk briefly just till smooth and there are no lumps. Scrape down sides of bowl. On low speed add the heavy cream and slowly raise the speed and beat till mixture is thick and creamy and holds firm peaks.

To assemble cake: Unroll cake and spread a thick layer of frosting evenly over cake to within 1-inch of edges. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded coconut. Lift short end of towel to guide the cake as you re-roll it. Place seam-side-down on serving platter. Spread the entire roll with the remaining frosting and sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 to 2 hours. Store any leftovers in refrigerator. Serves 10 to 12.

Ultimate Carrot Cake

(This moist delicious scratch cake is my favorite way to eat carrots.)

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

2 tsps. baking soda

2 tsps. cinnamon

2 tsps. vanilla

2 cups flour

2 cups shredded carrots

2 cups shredded coconut

16-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

Directions: In mixing bowl, combine oil, eggs, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat in flour. Stir in carrots, coconut, pineapple and nuts mixing thoroughly.

Bake in greased 13×9-inch baking pan or 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake in 350-degree F. oven about 1 hour for oblong or 50 minutes for layers, or till wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. For layer cake cool 15 minutes then invert to remove from pans. Cool completely before frosting. Serves 10 to 12.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Chopped walnuts for garnish, if desired

Directions: In large bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter and cream cheese till fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat till smooth and creamy.

For layer cake, spread frosting between layers and on top and sides. Sprinkle top of cake with more chopped nuts if desired.

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