Cheat Day [cheet dey] – noun: The one day of the week where diet minded fitness freaks throw caution to the wind and indulge only on the most tantalizing, ridiculously calorie dense foods known to man. Often associated with the term, “carb hangover,” which occurs the morning after a particularly fruitful cheat day. Synonyms: Free Day, Fun Day, Fat Day

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Almond Joy Cake with Coconut Ice Cream

I feel that everyone has their place in their family- and my place is firmly plopped in front of the stove.  Before I came along, homemade cakes simply didn't exist at my in-laws.  Birthdays were celebrated with a grocery store sheet cake and store bought ice cream.  I'm not sure when it began, but early in my relationship with my husband, I showed up to a birthday with a homemade cake.  Because that's what I do.  Cake is wonderful and every opportunity to make one should be capitalized on.  Not making a birthday cake would be like letting summer go by without a barbecue- or Christmas wrap up without getting sloshed on eggnog.  Sure- it's still technically Christmas- but you just threw away an opportunity that you will never get back.

Birthday means cake.  Cake is not purchased from a grocery store.  It's just not.

And when my father in laws 50th rolled around, I knew I had to do something special.  I have been on a streak of candy bar themed caked for this side of the family for awhile, so I decided to continue the trend with an Almond Joy cake.  Layers of Almond Joy filling and chocolate cake, topped with the richest fudge frosting you'll ever taste.  Serve with a side of coconut ice cream and almond slivers, and you are good to go.

The extra-specialness of this cake comes to fruition in the topper.  I got my fondant molding skills on and make a fishy cake topper.  It's not perfect- but it was definitely fun to make and a crowd pleaser.  I used Duff's fondant to make it, which I strongly recommend.  

Here we go! 

Almond Joy Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant devils food (or chocolate of any kind) pudding mix
1 (8 oz) container of sour cream (full fat, I use Daisy brand)
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, or your trusty stand mixer.
Pour batter into two round cake pans.
Bake as directed on your box mix.

Coconut Filling
Recipe adapted from:

10 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar
14 ounces shredded sweetened coconut

Combine ingredients in large bowl, set aside. 

1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate pieces (I used Ghirardelli)
1 stick butter
1 8 ounce carton sour cream (full fat, I used Daisy)
1 lb sifted powdered sugar

Pour chocolate chips into a large glass mixing bowl (your glass stand mixer bowl if you have it.)  Cut butter into small pieces and add to the chocolate chips.  Microwave in 20 sec intervals until chocolate and butter are completely melted.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Stir in sour cream and mix until combined.  Stir in powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Frost cake immediately.

Cake Assembly
Bake your two round cakes and let them cool.  (If you are doing this in advance, package cakes in saran wrap and foil and freeze until you are ready.  If working from frozen, defrost cakes so you can cut into them.)

Prepare your coconut filling.

Split both layers evenly.  Lay down your bottom cake layer and top with 1/3 of your coconut mixture.  you may have to use your hands to flatten out sections of the filling and piece them together to cover the cake.  Repeat this until you have three layers of coconut filling alternating between your four layers of work.

Place the cake in a cool location while you prepare your frosting.  Immediately frost and keep cake covered until ready to serve.  Serve with a scoop of coconut ice cream and top with almond pieces.

Coconut Ice Cream 

1 cup whole milk, divided
4 tsp. cornstarch

3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened (full fat, I use Philadelphia) 
1.5 tsp coconut extract 

1 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup (1.5 ounces if weighing)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Mix 1/4 cup of milk with 4 tsp of cornstarch into a slurry in a small bowl, set aside.

Place softened cream cheese in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.   Blend with coconut extract and set aside.

In a 4 quart saucepan, add the remainder of your milk, coconut milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix cornstarch slurry into your saucepan and return mixture to boil (increasing heat to medium high until it boils, reducing again once it boils.)  Cook for 2 minutes while stirring.  

Pour 1/4 of your milk mixture over your cream cheese and whisk until smooth.  Add the rest of the milk mixture and blend until combined.  Pour your ice cream base into a gallon sized ziplock bag and place in an ice water bath until completely cool.  Freeze according to your ice cream makers directions.

Here's the final product- I got a little crazy with the fondant work!

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