Sunday Dinner

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Hickory Smoked Barbecue Pork Ribs

Almond Coconut Mousse Cake

The conditions outside right now (50º F and drizzle-- what happened to the 90º F?!) are not very optimal for firing up the grill and smoke box, but only extreme and dangerous weather conditions would stop me from making this meal today.  Why??  It is my husband's birthday and I have made ribs for him every year for at least the last decade.  As much as I would like to share the rib recipe with you today, the birthday cake is the Sunday feature.

It is a toasted almond sponge cake that is layered with a light and creamy coconut mousse. The recipe requires two 9-inch cake pans and one 9-inch tight fitting springform pan.  The cakes are sliced horizontally creating four layers, but only three are used.  Leave the fourth for snacking;) I added some vanilla extract to the cake batter and some coconut extract to the mousse to bump up that coconut flavor.  I also use coconut lite milk in the mousse, but you can certainly opt for the full fat.

This cake is the perfect finish to this stick to your "ribs" (pun intended) Sunday meal.  It is also nice because it can be made up to a day in advance in order for the mousse to set, which gives me time to tend to the hickory logs and the birthday boy.

Almond Coconut Mousse Cake
serves 10-12

For the Cake
1 1/4 cups slivered almonds
1 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 extra large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Mousse
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1 Tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup whole milk
6 extra large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted in a 350º F oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to ensure even browning

For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick baking spray.  Spread almonds on a baking sheet and roast, shaking pan once or twice, until lightly golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and cooled almonds.  Process the mixture until the almonds are finely ground.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks at medium speed until blended, about 1 minute.  Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar.  Increase the speed to high and beat until thickened and light in color, about 2 minutes.  Transfer mixture to a clean bowl (thoroughly clean the mixing bowl and whisk attachment before proceeding). 

 In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat on high until a stiff, glossy meringue forms.  Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the meringue into the the yolk mixture, then fold in one-third of the dry ingredients.  Continue gently folding, alternating ingredients until combined.

In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, almond extract, and vanilla extract.  Fold in about 1 cup of the cake batter into the butter mixture, then fold this mixture back into the the remaining batter.  Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 18-22 minutes. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Unmold cake onto racks and cool completely.

For the Mousse
Place 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top to soften.  In a medium saucepan, bring coconut milk and whole milk to a gentle boil.  Remove pan from the heat.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended.  Whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot coconut milk mixture.  Return entire mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon.  Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl.  Microwave the cream and gelatin on high for 15-30 seconds, until the cream is hot.  Stir until gelatin is dissolved.  Add the gelatin mixture to the coconut milk mixture and stir to combine.  Pour hot mixture into a large bowl and set bowl in a larger bowl filled one-third full with ice water, taking care not to splash water into  the coconut milk mixture.  Stir occasionally until chilled, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla and coconut extract.

Using a stand mixer, a hand-held mixer or a wire whisk, whisk the remaining 1 3/4 cup heavy cream to soft peaks.  Pour in the chilled coconut milk mixture and mix until well blended.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.  Refrigerate the mousse for 30 minutes but no longer or it may begin to set.

Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake half horizontally  (you will only need 3 layers for this recipe; save the remaining cake layer for breakfast or an after school snack).  Place one layer into the bottom of a 9"x 3" springform pan with a tight fitting bottom, so the mousse doesn't seep out.  Pour 2 cups of mousse over cake, allowing it to fill the gap between the side of the pan and the edge of the cake.  Top with another cake layer and pour another 2 cups of mousse.  Top with the remaining cake layer and remaining mousse.  Refrigerate the cake for at least one hour before serving to allow the mousse to set. Carefully remove the side of the pan.  Pat the coconut onto the sides of the cake.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Chocolatier Magazine, Summer 2007


  1. I'm so glad you decided to feature the cake (although the ribs sound pretty good too!). It is just beautiful, and sounds dreamy. Coconut, almonds, and cream. Oh my. Your husband is one lucky birthday boy.

  2. AnonymousMay 18, 2011

    Looks divine! I love the flavour and aroma of toasted nuts.


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