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Fresh Coconut Cake

3 3/4 pounds fresh coconut, or enough to yield 4 cups plus 2 TBS. minced
coconut meat, in all
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 TBS. cornstarch dissolved in 1 TBS. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBS. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 pound (2 sticks) plus 4 TBS. unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
1 cup evaporated milk
1 TBS. vanilla extract

Coconut-Milk Glaze (recipe follows)
Frosting (recipe follows)

Be sure to reserve the coconut milk to make the glaze.

Drain the milk from the coconuts by carefully making a hole in each
of the three eyes of the coconuts with a clean, new, and large
nail, an icepick, or a sharp, very sturdy knife point. Strain the
milk through cheesecloth or through a fine mesh strainer lined with
a paper towel and measure out 1 1/2 cups; if necessary make up the
balance with water. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Break coconuts into small pieces with a hammer. Peel the pieces
and remove the brown inner skin attached to the white coconut meat.
Rinse and drain coconut meat well, then process it in batches in
a food processor until minced. You will need 4 cups minced coconut
For the filling plus 2 TBS. to garnish the top of the cake. Set
aside.

In a heavy 5 1/2 quart saucepan or large Dutch oven, heat together
the cream, sugar and butter over med.-high heat until mixture
reaches a boil, stirring frequently. Add the 4 cups of minced
coconut, stirring well. Cook until mixture reduces to 5 cups, about
15 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Remove from heat and stir
in the cornstarch. Place pan over high heat and bring to boil,
stirring constantly. Add the vanilla and cook and stir about 1
minute. Remove from heat and continue stirring a few seconds more.
Cool slightly, then refrigerate until well chilled. NOTE: Filling
will decrease in volume as it cools. Once it is chilled, measure
yield and divide by 5 to determine amount to use between cake
layers. Keep refrigerated until just before ready to use.

In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and
the salt; set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and eggs;
beat on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute, pushing sides down
with a rubber spatula.

Add the butter; beat on low until mixture is creamy and light
colored, about 3 minutes. Beat in the milk and vanilla. Gradually
add the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time, beating after each
addition just until smooth and pushing the sides down as needed.
Then beat on high for about 1 minute more, pushing sides down.

Spoon equal portions of the batter (a slightly mounded 1 cup) into
six 8 inch round cake pans that have been greased and lightly
floured. Spread batter out evenly in the pans. Bake at 350 on the
middle rack of the oven, 3 layers at a time, until centers spring
back when lightly pressed, 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let
pans sit about 5 minutes, then loosen sides of cake with a knife
and remove layers from pans to a wire rack. Bake the 3 remaining
layers. If re-using the same pans, first wash, re-grease and
lightly flour them.

After the cake layers have cooled about 15 minutes, glaze one layer
by brushing glaze over the surface and on the sides with a pastry
brush, a little at a time and using one sixth of the glaze (about
2 1/2 TBS.) Make holes in the cake with a paring knife so glaze
can sink in. Immediately (before glazing anothe layer), spread one
fifth of the filling on top of the glazed layer, extending it to
about 1/2 inch from the edge. Then place another layer on top and
repeat precedure of glazing and spreading on filling until all
layers have been glazed and all but the top layer have filling
spread on them.

Let cake cool throughly, then frost top and sides. Sprinkle the
remaining 2 TBS, coconut on top. Let sit 1 hour before slicing.


Coconut-Milk Glaze

1 1/2 cups reserved strained coconut milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the coconut milk and the sugar in a 2-quart saucepan and
bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue
boiling until glaze reduces to 1 cup, about 5 minutes, stirring
frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into a
glass measuring cup and use glaze as directed in the recipe. Makes
1 cup.


Frosting

2 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
1 TBS. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBS. plus 1 tsp. evaporated milk
1 (1 pound) box powdered sugar, in all 4 cups

Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt in a medium size
bowl of an electric mixer; beat on high speed until creamy, about
1 minute. Turn speed to medium and beat in the milk and 1 cup of
sugar, pushing sides down with a rubber spatula. Beat in the
remaining 3 cups of sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing until smooth
before adding more. If the frosting becomes too thick for the mixer,
do the last bit of mixing by hand with a spoon.

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