Aaron says he loves having a December birthday. I'm glad and hope it stays that way, because I always feel bad with as much as we have going on around his birthday. We begin the birthday cake discussion months in advance. We plan, we plot, I have a perfect cake in mind. But when the days come to assemble, life gets very very busy, and this is where I learned a wonderful lesson this year...
Aaron had asked for a Jedi Temple birthday cake, modeled after the Lego version. Now, the Jedi temple is a very geometric building, with lots of sharp lines. I knew it would be hard to get those with either buttercream or fondant, but Aaron said he wanted fondant (the marshmallow kind). So I set forth, making marshmallow fondant flavored with coconut, a moist deep chocolate cake, and a custard buttercream made with coconut milk. And the day came to assemble the cake. Gabriel is grumpy, I have a bazillion things to do for work, and somehow I got talked into a bigger birthday party than I ever imagined.
In the midst of it, Aaron asks if he can help decorate the cake. My first inclination is "no - there is no way a 9 year old boys could paint or cut straight," but luckily I caught myself. "Of course - here is how you do it." And I went upstairs to shower, coming down to my not so little guy proudly displaying his artwork, and I couldn't be prouder. Lesson learned: It is about the birthday boy, smiles and joy, and that makes all the difference.
And how did the cake taste - wonderfully sweet with the marshmallow fondant! I actually liked the frosting, which was coconutty in a coconut milk way. It was light and fluffy, not the best for a sculpted cake, but would be great on cupcakes or a traditional layer cake. Oh - and other lesson learned, marshmallow fondant and humidity are not good friends and result in sagging - note to self, use traditional fondant in the rain...
Southern Custard Coconut Frosting
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 T sweet rice flour
- 1 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 t kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- Bring sugars, salt, flour, coconut milk and cream to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Cook until very thick - this will take some time, up to 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and place in the bowl of a stand mixer, allow to cool slightly, then cover the top with plastic wrap. Allow it to come to just above room temperature.
- Beat the custard with the paddle attachment on high, adding in the butter on piece at a time. Continue beating until light and fluffy.
- If it seems to loose, place in the refrigerator until it sets up a bit, then beat again. Do not allow it to get too cold though or it will separate and curdle. If it does, gently rewarm it or allow it to come to room temp, and beat again.
- Spread immediately or store in refrigerator and bring to room temperature before rebeating and using.
- Add extract and beat to blend.