COCONUT SNOW CLOUDS

Cloud cake is the perfect name for this lighter than air recipe. It tastes as though it needs a weight attached to the plate to keep it from floating off the table.

Unlike a pavlova, this layered dessert is made with a soft, spongey meringue, and layered like a small cake with spiked whipped cream. Flakes of barely toasted coconut give it a snowball effect, making this fluffy, ephemeral dish a nice surprise compared to the usually heavy sweets surrounding the holidays. I love it with fresh fruit as well, especially something bright and acidic like passion fruit pulp or lemon curd. But served simply, it’s a lovely and unexpected way to end a winter dinner, and who doesn’t love a personal sized dessert? Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (CAKE)

Serves 4

8 egg whites, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups superfine sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus extra for dusting

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

INGREDIENTS (RUM COCONUT CREAM):

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1 can coconut milk (full fat), chilled in the fridge overnight (or longer)

1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

2 tablespoons dark rum

Toasted Coconut: For Garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place a sheet of parchment on a rimless baking sheet, and draw four 5-inch circles in pencil on the sheet. This will be your guide for forming the meringues.

Place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, scrape down sides of the bowl and whisk for 8 minutes or until thickened and sugar has dissolved. Place the cornflour and the vinegar in a bowl and mix to combine. Add the cornflour mixture to the meringue and continue beating for 2 minutes. Fold in the coconut. The mixture should be very stiff. Spoon the meringue into each of the drawn circles, about 2 inches high, and smooth the top as flat as you can get.

Cook for 20 minutes or until the top is dry to the touch and barely golden brown at the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before assembling. Set aside.

For the Coconut cream, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and continue whipping until very stiff. In a separate bowl, scoop out the white coconut fat, leaving the clear coconut water in the can. Add the rum and vanilla scrapings and whip until smooth and stiff. Add coconut water a tablespoon at a time until you get a smooth texture. Fold together the two creams. Whip again for a minute if it needs to be stiffer.

NOTE: the rum in the cream will cause it to loosen over time, and the meringue will breakdown from the cream as well, so assemble this cake no more than an hour before serving, and keep chilled.

To assemble, place 1 meringue circle on a cake stand. Spoon 1/3 cup of the vanilla coconut cream over the meringue. Continue layering with meringue and vanilla coconut cream, finishing with the cream. Lightly spread the remaining vanilla coconut cream over the sides and sprinkle all over with coconut flakes. Serve immediately.