Have your cake and make it, too

When Marie Antoinette uttered her famous cake quote, she was on to something. Perhaps it was a lack of the promised delicacy that caused her to lose her pretty head. Cake has not lost one iota of popularity. Most people will not turn down a slice of cake, be it coffee cake, bundt cake, sheet cake, pound cake, cheesecake or upside-down cake.

Cake seems to be on the collective mind. Just turn on the television and you are sure to find a cake show, be it "Cake Boss," "Ace of Cakes," or "Amazing Wedding Cakes." These shows are heavy on decoration and light on actual baking tips. And, of course, price is never mentioned, even if all we really want to know is, "How much?"

A little on-line investigating found that the actual finished products can be stultifyingly expensive. Some of these culinary creations go for $18 or more per slice. Buddy "The Cake Boss" Valastro's bakery charges that and sometimes more for special orders.

Around Pittsburgh, a quick survey showed that prices for customized cakes average $7 to $8 a slice, which still represents a serious investment.

That probably is part of the reason why Wilton decorating classes, held all over the region, are so popular. While you probably won't want to bake your own wedding cake, if you learn a few tricks and bake a few celebratory cakes throughout the year, it can translate into a big savings. And you don't even have to stray far from a box to do it.

A few cake-baking tips

From Bev Shaffer, author of the new book "Cakes to Die For!"

Frosting tips

1. Cool the cake completely before frosting.

2. Dust off any loose crumbs gently with a soft-bristled brush or the flat of your clean hands.

3. Freeze layers for several hours or overnight before frosting. The trick is to frost layers while they are still frozen, which helps the frosting adhere better.

4. Anchor the cake by spreading a dab of frosting on the center of a cake plate or cardboard round (found in cake supply stores and craft stores).

5. Spread a thin coat of frosting to the top and sides of the cake using short side-to-side strokes. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set.

6. Apply a thick coat of frosting to the top and sides of the cake, being sure to coat the cake evenly and smoothly. If necessary, dip the spatula into hot water to create a smooth coat.

• Filling a pastry bag: To fill a bag with frosting, place an empty pastry bag fitted with a coupler and pastry tip in the center of a tall glass. Open and fold the pastry bag back around the rim of the glass.

When the bag is 2/3 filled, lift it straight out of the glass and gather the end of the bag. Push the frosting down toward the tip to push out any air bubbles, then twist the bag closed.

Making and baking tips

• Filling a tube or bundt pan: Cover the hole with a paper cup while filling the pan. To prevent air bubbles, slowly pour the batter in one area of the pan and allow it to flow in and around the bundt design. Gently tap the filled pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

• To better show details of bundt pan designs, fill the pan about 3/4 full, avoiding overflow. With a spatula push the batter to the outside of the pan and slightly up the walls. This will give greater detail on the outside of the baked cake.

• Cake flour is milled from select soft wheat and is especially suited for baking tender, fine-textured cakes as well as biscuits and pastries. When substituting cake flour for another flour, increase the amount by 2 tablespoons per cup.

• What is the best way to measure flour? To obtain the most accurate measure of flour, spoon it into a standard dry-ingredient measuring cup and level with a knife or spatula. If the cup is dipped into the container -- a common mistake -- the flour will be packed into the cup and result in extra flour being added to the recipe, which yields tough and dense baked goods.

• Flour does not need to be sifted before use in a recipe; the exception is cake flour, which always should be sifted after measuring.

• Shiny or dark pans? Shiny pans reflect rather than absorb heat. For a pound cake with a tender, delicate crust, bake it in a shiny pan. It's always advisable to lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees when using a dark pan, and watch the baking time carefully, so the cake doesn't burn.

• Baking times: Let the oven preheat for 15 minutes before baking, and make sure the oven temperature is accurate by using an oven thermometer. This detail can be the key to your cake's success.

• When given a baking time, underset the timer and use the time as a guideline. Many things affect baking times, such as correct oven temperature and type of pan used (glass, metal, dark, light).

South African native Adele Butler, who teaches Wilton classes at JoAnn Fabrics on McKnight Road in Ross, and also has worked in a bakery, says that most people these days "expect" a box-cake taste when they purchase a "special" cake. She thinks that's because we all have been raised with mixes. Although Mrs. Butler is firmly on the side of "made from scratch" cakes, students are free to decide how to bake the cakes for class projects. Most cakes in her classes are made from a box.

Cakes baked from scratch usually have a firmer crumb and are not as moist as those made from a mix. King Arthur Flour recognizes this and now sells a "cake enhancer" that the specialty baking company says is widely used in commercial baked products, and when added to scratch cakes, will make them moister and more "box like."

Frostings for the classes are made from scratch, with recipes from Wilton, and participants learn basic decorating skills. It seems that however the cake crumbles, Mrs. Butler's classes are very popular. Every month she teaches four-week sessions of Cake Decorating 1, 2 and 3.

Pittsburgh Cake Ladies

For 29 years the Niekum sisters have been in the business of cakes. Their Ross store, Make-A-Cake, has been a place where home bakers go to purchase supplies in small quantities, get advice and sometimes just talk about baking and candy making. And it all happened because two of the sisters found themselves unemployed at the same time.

Carol, of Shaler, worked for a bakery for 15 years. She describes her stint as a baker as her "dream job," but the bakery closed.

Elaine, also of Shaler, worked as a secretary. Her company relocated and she didn't want to leave Pittsburgh.

About that time, sister Gail Hendricks, of Evans City, graduated from college with a business degree.

Mother Clara advised the girls to put their heads together and come up with a plan. They did, and Make-A-Cake was born.

Their shop is a stop for serious and not-so-serious bakers. They sell chocolate, prepared fondant, royal icing mix, buttercream icing, high-ratio shortening (essential when making buttercream for piping flowers) and also some finished baked goods. Flavorings also are on the shelf, as are cake decorations, pans, nuts and candied fruit -- just about anything you need to concoct a special dessert. And over the years, they have compiled small booklets of tried-and-true recipes, which are available for purchase. Along the way, there probably isn't a cake or candy question they haven't heard, but like all businesses, things are changing in the cake world.

"The most change we've seen has been in the cake decorating department," says Carol. "Everything used to be buttercream and traditional. Now, within the last couple of years, with everything that's on the Food Network, lots of the cake decorating is going into rolled fondant, and the topsy-turvy cakes and the sculpted cakes. It's a whole new revolution for cake decorating."

Happily for the sisters, the shows bring new customers into the shop.

"I'll tell you who are really getting interested [in cake decorating] are teenagers," Carol says. "They are watching all these programs and all the challenges and they are coming in. Some of the mothers don't have a clue, but the kids are getting interested in it," she says.

She says the kids even know the technical jargon.

They also get a fair number of men who are baking and decorating cakes.

But no matter the age or sex of the customer, the sisters do what they've always done: sell top-quality ingredients and help as much as possible.

"[Customers] will come in with an idea and as we stand there and talk to them the idea gets better or bigger, or totally different. They might even get an idea they didn't have before coming into the shop."

Make-a-Cake is located at 99 Rochester Road, Ross. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat. 412-931-0469.

Cakes to Die For!

Bev Shaffer's new book, "Cakes to Die For!" (Penguin, $26.95) just became available; this Medina, Ohio resident, who is a chef, cooking school instructor and author, has written two related books -- "Cookies to Die For!" and "Brownies to Die For!" -- but these days she's promoting cakes.

"I've always loved cakes," she says. "They're comfy and homey, yet sophisticated too. They're the perfect canvas for a variety of flavors and an eclectic dessert journey."

As one would guess, "Cakes to Die For!" is full of lush photographs (taken by her husband, John), and recipes for cakes of all stripes and difficulty levels (which are clearly noted), and Ms. Shaffer says that her hope is that the book will inspire home bakers to "rise above the mix."

She contends that baking from scratch is better, because doing so allows the cook to use the very best ingredients and also have a finished product that is free of preservatives and chemicals.

"[Bakers] should [also] rise above the mix to broaden their horizons and explore new flavor profiles and cake textures," she says.

The book will help them do just that. As an instructor, Ms. Shaffer can anticipate students' questions while she is writing the recipes.

The front of the book contains a chapter on basic baking tips, which will allow even the most rudimentary cook to dive into the world of cakes.

Of the cakes in the book, her personal favorites are the Mascarpone Mango Cheesecake with Raspberry Praline Mascarpone (difficult) and the Lemon Rosemary Cake with Lemon Glaze, which is an easy loaf cake, and is especially good when served with fresh citrus sections.

The book opens with a photograph of her mother's tattered Apple Sauce Cake recipe, though Ms. Shaffer didn't make that cake for the book. "Some memories are best left as such."

Perhaps one of her cakes will be the basis for new memories.


PG tested

Ice cream cakes are one of my favorite desserts. But this cake gets the blue ribbon. The chocolate cake is luscious and blends perfectly with the raspberry ice cream. And what can I say about the ganache topping -- it's sinful.

-- Arlene Burnett

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 pints raspberry ice cream, softened just until spreadable (I used black raspberry)
  • 2 cups Ganache cooled until thickened but pourable (recipe follows)

Position rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the bottom from a 9-by-23/4 inch springform pan and wrap it with aluminum foil. Replace the bottom in the pan and butter the lined bottom and sides of the pan.

To make the cake: Put both chocolates and the butter in a heatproof bowl (or top of a double boiler) and place it over, but not touching, barely simmering water in a saucepan. Stir until the chocolates and butter are melted and smooth. Remove from over the water and set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the dissolved coffee and vanilla. On low speed, mix in the chocolate mixture until blended. Stir in the flour mixture just until it is incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.

Bake until the top looks puffed and crusty and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with thick batter clinging to it, about 20 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 2 hours.

Use a small, sharp knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove the sides of the pan and invert the cake onto a flat plate. Remove the foil from the bottom of the pan and discard it. Place the springform bottom on the cake and turn the cake so that it is top up. Replace the pan sides. This makes it easier to remove the slices when the cake is cut.

Spread the ice cream evenly over the cake. Pour the ganache over the top, tilting the pan to spread it evenly. Wrap the cake, in its pan, tightly in plastic wrap and then in heavy aluminum foil. Freeze overnight or up to 1 week.

To serve, unwrap the cake. Using a small sharp knife loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove the sides. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the cake into slices.

Makes 12 servings.

You may substitute mocha chip, chocolate chip, coconut, peppermint, dulce de leche, vanilla, or your choice of ice cream.

-- "Chocolate Cakes: 50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion" by Elinor Klivans (Chronicle, 2010, $22.95)


  • PG tested
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter melts. The hot cream mixture should form tiny bubbles and measure about 175 degrees on an instant read thermometer; do not let the mixture boil as a skin might form on the top. If this happens, use a spoon to lift off the skin and discard it. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and let stand in the hot cream mixture for about 30 seconds to soften. Whisk the ganache just until all of the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

If the ganache will be poured or spread, let it cool and thicken slightly, about 30 minutes. It can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week; if it becomes too firm, it can be warmed over low heat, stirring to soften it evenly.

Makes 2 cups.

-- "Chocolate Cakes: 50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion" by Elinor Klivans (Chronicle, 2010, $22.95)

Peach-Filled Cheesecake with Chocolate-Cookie Crust

PG tested

Cheesecakes always wow the crowd, but those who bake them know they are fairly simple to construct and once they are in the oven, the labor is finished. This cheesecake is lightened somewhat by the addition of Neufchatel cheese, and the sweetness is cut by the peach mixture that is layered inside the batter.

Bev Shaffer suggests serving the cake with a garnish of fresh red raspberries and chocolate shavings.

-- Susan Banks

For the peach mixture
  • 12 ounces frozen peaches, partially thawed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (to be added later)
Chocolate crust
  • 9-ounce package chocolate wafers
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces Neufchatel cheese, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Topping
  • Fresh red raspberries
  • Grated chocolate

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, combine the peaches and cornstarch or arrowroot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook for 1 minute, then remove saucepan from the heat. Cool 10 minutes in the saucepan, then cover and refrigerate.

For the chocolate crust: In a food processor, pulse the chocolate wafers until very finely chopped. Add the melted butter and process just until combined.

Press crumb mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

For the cheesecake: In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and Neufchatel cheese until creamy. Beat in the sugar. Scrape bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating just to combine. With mixer on low, stir in the sour cream, cornstarch and vanilla to blend.

Remove saucepan of peaches from the refrigerator and blend in sour cream.

Spread half of the cheesecake batter over prepared crust. Spoon peaches evenly over cheesecake batter in pan, then top with remaining batter.

Bake for 62 to 75 minutes, or until center appears nearly set. (Center will still juggle, but will not be liquidy.) Let the cheesecake cool in oven with the door closed for 11/2 hours. Remove from the oven and cool pan completely on wire rack. Cover loosely with wax paper and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, run a knife around inside edge of pan and carefully remove the springform sides. Garnish each slice with some red raspberries and grated chocolate.

Serves 12 to 14.

-- "Cakes to Die For!" by Bev Shaffer (Pelican, 2010, $26.95)

Orange Chiffon Cake

PG tested

When chiffon cake arrived on the culinary scene in the 1920s, it set off a craze that continued well into the '50s' and '60s. And for good reason: Made with salad oil instead of butter, with a glossy meringue folded into the batter just before baking, it combines the lightness of angel food cake with the texture of sponge cake.

This recipe, from John Barricelli's gorgeous "The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook," reinvents the old favorite with fresh orange zest and a layer of pudding-like pastry cream made with Grand Marnier, egg yolk and sugar.

This tall, airy dessert smells so heavenly you might be tempted to rush it onto a serving plate. The secret to getting it out of the tube pan without tearing holes in the side, though, is allowing the cake to cool completely before you gently pull it away from the sides and bottom.

If you like your desserts a little plainer, you could forgo the pastry cream, which has to be cooked and then cooled, and simply top the cake with a favorite fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche.

-- Gretchen McKay

For cake
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 12/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 10 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
For Grand Marnier Pastry Cream
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 10 orange sections (from 1 to 2 oranges), pith removed, for garnish

Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone baking mat.

To make the cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift the flour with 1 cup of the sugar, the salt and the baking powder. Fit mixer with paddle attachment and beat on low speed to combine. With the mixer running, gradually add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, orange zest, orange extract, and water and beat until blended. Transfer batter to a large bowl.

Wash and dry mixer bowl. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Add egg whites and cream of tartar to bowl and beat on medium speed until frothy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 2/3 cup sugar and beat until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold the meringue in the batter with a rubber scraper just until incorporated. Scrape into an unbuttered 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom, preferably nonstick, and smooth the top.

Bake on the prepared baking sheet until a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently touched, 50 to 55 minutes. Invert the pan over a wire rack (the cake will remain in the pan) and let cool for 1 hour.

To unmold, set the pan back on its bottom and use your fingers to gently pull the cake away from the sides of the pan to release it. Invert the pan on the rack. Gently pull the cake away from the rim and bottom and from around the center tube, then gently remove the tube.

To make the pastry cream: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, about half of the sugar, all the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the milk.

In a saucepan, combine the remaining sugar, the remaining 11/4 cups milk and the salt. Bring to a simmer. Whisking constantly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, gradually at first to temper it, and then more quickly. Set a strainer over the sauce pan. Strain the custard mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil for 10 seconds, whisking. (Make sure custard boils for 10 seconds in the center of pan, not just around the sides.) The mixture should thicken to a pudding-like consistency.

Transfer the pastry cream to bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, to cool slightly. Beat in the Grand Marnier and vanilla. With the mixer running, beat in the butter a little at a time. Beat until cooled, 5 to 10 minutes. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming, and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Slice the cooled cake in half horizontally. Spread the bottom half with half of the pastry cream. Place the top half back on. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip with the remaining pastry cream. Pipe 10 quarter-sized dollops of cream in a circle, about 1 inch from the outside of the cake so they are centered. Place an orange segment in each dollop of cream, pointing to the center.

Makes 1 10-inch tube cake that will serve 10.

-- "The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook" by John Barricelli (Clarkson Potter, 2010, $35)

Layer Cake with Coconut and Mango Curd, Coconut, and Cream

"I love a tall layer cake, and this one is very pretty," writes Lori Longbotham. "It does take some time to prepare, but you can do much of the work in advance. Make the curd and toast the coconut, then bake the cake early in the day and put it together at the last minute. If you are pressed for time, instead of fresh coconut, you can use about 21/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut to coat the cake, but the result will be sweeter."

-- Bob Batz Jr.

  • For the cake
  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 fresh coconut
  • Luscious Coconut and Mango Curd (recipe follows)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

To make the cake: Position a rack in middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter and flour 2 8-by-2-inch round cake pans.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat the sugar, butter, and lime zest with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large deep bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and beat just until blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the remaining 3/4 cup milk in 2 batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and beating just until blended.

Beat the egg whites with clean beaters on medium speed in a large deep bowl just until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium-high, and beat just until the egg whites hold stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. With a whisk or a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. (Leave the oven on if you are planning to toast the coconut, and adjust the racks so they are in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.) Run a table knife around the sides of the pans, and carefully turn the cakes out onto the racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, open the coconut, remove the meat from the shell, and remove the peel with a vegetable peeler. Rinse the coconut and dry with paper towels. Cut enough coconut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler to measure 21/2 cups (reserve the remaining coconut for another use). If you want to toast the coconut, spread it on 2 large heavy baking sheets and toast in the oven, stirring 3 times and switching the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Carefully transfer to 2 plates and let cool completely.

Cut each cake into 2 layers with a long serrated knife. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with 1/3 of the coconut and mango curd, spreading it to about 1/2 inch from the edges. Repeat with 2 more cake layers, and top with the fourth layer.

Beat the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large deep bowl until it holds soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until the cream holds stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted.

Frost the top and the sides of the cake with the whipped cream. Using your palms, press some of the coconut onto the sides of the cake, and cover the top with the remaining coconut. Serve immediately, cut into wedges.

Serves 10 to 12.

-- "Luscious Coconut Desserts" by Lori Longbotham (Chronicle, 2010, $19.95)

Luscious Coconut and Mango Curd

PG tested

"Look for Ratna or Swad brand canned sweetened mango puree in Asian markets," writes Lori Longbotham. "The flavor of mango puree is better than that of many fresh mangoes, and because these brands are made with luscious Indian mangoes, the puree has no fibers and is perfectly smooth. You could substitute a couple of tablespoons of palm sugar or brown sugar for some of the granulated sugar in the recipe and the curd will taste great because of the caramel undertone. But if you use too much, it will change the color from a vibrant orange to a brownish orange."

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup canned sweetened mango puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the coconut and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the coconut is lightly toasted.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the mango puree, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks. Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking frequently at first and constantly at the end, for 6 to 8 minutes, until thickened. Immediately pour the curd through a fine strainer set over a medium glass measure or bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally; the curd will continue to thicken as it cools.

Whisk in the lime juice. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours, until thoroughly chilled and set, or for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

-- "Luscious Coconut Desserts" by Lori Longbotham (Chronicle, 2010, $19.95)

Susan Banks: sbanks@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1516. First Published May 6, 2010 4:00 AM


Hot Topic