Get Ready for Mother's Day: Coconut Milk Chocolate Mousse and Angel Food Cake

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Well, you survived Easter. Now it's time to start thinking of Mother's Day. No rest for the weary!

This weekend I experimented in the kitchen with a couple of recipes using coconut milk and an old standby cake choice. And then I decided to throw them together and came up with something so flavorful yet so light that I finally felt spring had sprung.

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I was shopping and came across a bakery display of "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" angel food cake loaves. I suddenly craved angel food cake and had to have it that day. I skipped the BOGO pre-made cakes though and headed home to whip some egg whites into a frenzy. Isn't it amazing what happens when you beat up egg whites? I used 1 1/4 cups egg whites. Then I tossed in a little cream of tartar, vanilla and almond extracts, and slowly drizzled in 1/2 cup of sugar. Look at that pearly sheen. It's just gorgeous.

I totally blanked out photographing the rest of what happened, but it was quick and easy. Fold in cake flour that's been sifted with sugar. That's it. Except one catch...I didn't have cake flour. Easy to solve though, so file this tip away. Make your own cake flour. For every 1 cup of regular flour, remove 2 tablespoons and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift them together several times to make sure the cornstarch is incorporated into the flour. And you just saved yourself the hassle of making an unplanned trip to the store to buy cake flour.

The batter went into an ungreased cake tube. A little time in the oven, a little time upside down in the cake tube. Then after an hour of cooling, run a knife along the outer and inner rings and out it will pop. Airy deliciousness.

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I also decided to make a chocolate mousse out of coconut milk. I read that full-fat coconut milk can be made into a buttercream frosting minus the butter. I was intrigued and decided to play with coconut into more of a mousse than a frosting. You need one can of the full-fat, no-holds-barred coconut milk. Don't shake it up. If you open it and it looks like the creamy glob above, you're good to go. If not, pop it in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

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You want that big scoop of solid white at the top of the can. Put that into a large bowl. Whip up to break it up into a smooth paste and then drizzle in the remaining coconut milk.

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Keep whipping with beaters or by hand if you're ready for a little arm workout. It will turn creamy and smooth. Add in 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder.

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And look what happens. Keep incorporating that cocoa powder into the mixture, then add a sweetener of your choice. I would advise against a liquid sweetener. You don't want this to be too runny. I went with good ol' powdered sugar. I used about 2 tablespoons, adding it slowly and tasting until I found a sweetness level I liked.

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It will look and taste like chocolate mousse. There is no coconut taste at all. I was surprised at that, but pleasantly so. Okay great, so then I feared I was going to stand there with a spoon and eat the whole entire mixing bowl and die of shame. Then I thought about the angel food cake on the other counter and my mind started wondering what if...

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...what if, indeed. The subtle and smooth chocolate mousse might pair well with the subtle almond of the airy cake. A layered angel food cake, why not? Let's do it. Use a long slender knife and split the angel food cake in two all the way around.

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Pile a thick layer of mousse onto the bottom layer of the angel food cake and place the top layer back on. When I did this, and despite my generous sampling of the mousse before, I still had quite a bit left in the bowl. I decided to spread it on the top of the cake. I knew I wouldn't have enough to do the sides, but I decided that was a small thing and not to sweat it.

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Okay, great, so now I had a chocolate mousse angel food cake. Then I remembered the strawberries I bought earlier and decided to add those to this evolving cake. If I had thought of them earlier, I would have thin sliced them and put them in the middle layer of mousse. Noted for next time!

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And how did it all come together? Well it's 24 hours now and the entire cake is gone. Gone! Crumbs plucked up and eaten, strawberries devoured, tiny bits of mousse scraped off plates. I'm going to call that a success of delicate flavors that all came together for a perfect spring cake. This would make a great choice if you're looking for a lunch dessert on Mother's Day. The recipes for both the mousse and the angel food cake are below.

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Angel Food Cake

1 1/4 cups egg white

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 cup cake flour

1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Pour egg whites into a large bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sift 1/2 cup of sugar and flour together and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add cream of tartar, extracts, and salt to the egg whites. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the remaining sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat egg whites at high speed until they reach stiff peak stage. Fold in flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated.
  • Carefully spoon the batter into an ungreased cake tube. Use a knife to cut through the batter to remove any air pockets. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until top is dry looking and browned.
  • Immediately invert pan onto a cooling rack and let stand for 1 hour. The cake will not fall out of the pan. When cool, run a knife along the inner and outer rings of the tube pan, turn upside down and let cake fall onto the cooling rack.


Coconut Milk Chocolate Mousse

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

sweetener to taste, approximately 2 tablespoons

  • Open coconut milk and leave in the can. Place in refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
  • Transfer the thick portion of the coconut milk fat to a bowl. Use a mixer on medium speed to beat until smooth. Gradually drizzle in remaining coconut milk.
  • Mix in vanilla and cocoa powder.
  • Add in sweetener one tablespoon at a time, tasting until desired sweetness level is reached.
  • Use on cakes or pipe into individual serving bowls and refrigerate to let mousse set. Store in refrigerator.

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