South Beach Delights

Francois Payard’s Chocolate Coconut Cake

By - Jan 22nd, 2011 04:00 am
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What better way to cap TCD’s series of celebrity recipes from the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook than with a dessert? This final recipe comes from third-generation French pastry chef Francois Payard, whose signature sweets are a marriage of decadence and art. This recipe is a bit more involved than the others we’ve featured, but the extra finesse is worth it!

Francois Payard’s Chocolate Coconut Cake

Photographs copyright © 2010 by Quentin Bacon.

This cake was a sincere mistake! I had planned to pair a chocolate ganache with a coconut macaroon biscuit. As I was making it, I realized I had added too much egg white and was running out of coconut. But I decided to spread it out on a sheet pan and bake it anyway. The result? A delicious and very sweet mistake indeed.

Serves 6 to 8

Coconut sponge
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 2⁄3 cups unsweetened, dried shredded coconut

10 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 ½ ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 2⁄3 cups heavy cream

1 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut, toasted

For the coconut sponge
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper.

2. Fill a medium saucepan one-third full of water and bring it to a simmer. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the sugar and eggs until pale yellow. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the egg mixture is warm to the touch. Return the bowl to the mixer and beat the egg mixture on high speed for about 5 minutes, or until it has doubled in volume. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut just until blended.

3. Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, and using the rubber spatula, spread it evenly in the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the cake is light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, place it on a wire rack, and let cool for 15 minutes.

5. Run a small sharp knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a wire rack over the cake and invert. Carefully peel off the parchment paper (the cake is extremely delicate). Cool the cake completely.

For the ganache
Combine the bittersweet chocolate and the milk chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface, and refrigerate for about 4 hours, or until it is firm enough to spread.

To assemble the cake
Trim off any uneven edges from the cake and cut it crosswise into three equal rectangles; each should measure about 5 by 10 inches. Place one of the rectangles on a serving platter. Using a small metal offset spatula, spread a generous layer of ganache over the top of the cake layer. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and ganache. Spread the remaining ganache over the sides of the cake. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the top and sides.

If not serving immediately, refrigerate the cake. (The cake can be made up to 1 day ahead. Bring to roomtemperature before serving.)

Julie Mautner

All recipes in TCD’s South Beach Delights series are courtesy of The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook, co-authored by native Milwaukeean Julie Mautner.

About Julie Mautner:

Born and raised in Glendale, a graduate of Nicolet High School and UW-Madison, Julie Mautner is a freelance journalist who splits her time between Milwaukee and Provence, France. She was a founding editor of Food Arts Magazine in New York and was its executive editor for ten years.

Since she resigned in 1998 to freelance, Julie’s articles have appeared in/on,, Travel & Leisure, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine,, Conde Nast Traveller UK, New York, Financial Times and elsewhere. She also publishes the popular blog, written for anyone who lives in, travels to or dreams of visiting the South of France.

The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook (co-authored with Lee Schrager) was published by Clarkson Potter in November 2010 and is Julie’s first book.

**Photos reprinted from Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook © 2010 by Lee Brian Schrager with Julie Mautner. Photographs copyright © 2010 by Quentin Bacon.

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