The five-pound bags of almond and coconut flour that I purchased recently have been taunting me mercilessly since their arrival. The giant blue and white striped bags have spent the past two weeks sitting in the middle of the coffee table waiting for me to turn them into something lovely. It's been a tough several days, though, and I admit that I've spent most of my evenings battling a case of Holly Golightly's "Mean Reds" that left me kind of teary-eyed and unmotivated to do little else but read recipes and watch movies. And so the bag has sat; frangipane tarts and financier officially on hold.
Until Wednesday. A evening dash to the grocery store to pick up a few staples proved to be just the thing to push me out of the slump. I arrived home, arms loaded down with the weight of my reusable grocery bags when I heard the phone ring. I dove into my purse to find my phone, knocking over a bag of produce in the process. Out rolled a calvacade of artichokes and asparagus followed by a few frisky limes. The limes rolled out across the table in the direction of the flour, where they stopped right at the bag; kelly green rind kissing the bulging bag of almonds. I looked it while I talked, my brain already racing ahead. Within minutes I was in the kitchen grating and mixing and humming the lime in da coconut song that my friend Lindsay used to drive me crazy with in college.
The end result was lovely: a moist, green-flecked cake with subtle hints of lime and coconut. Putting the lime and the coconut together did, in fact, make me feel better! The first night I ate the cake straight, a warm slice right out of the oven. The next day I had a slice for breakfast that tasted even better as the flavors had been given a chance to meld together.
That evening, I stopped by the bodega to pick up some some paper towels when I saw a whole bag of star anise on sale for a dollar. I snatched this up and decided to get creative. In a small saucepot, I mixed half a cup each of coconut milk and cream, and simmered with a few anise stars. I sweetened the cream and poured it over a generous slice of cake. Incredible! The anise brought out the warm, tropical flavors of the cake making for a delicious dessert.
This morning I decided to try the now slightly-stale cake (stale because I was lazy and didn't wrap it properly last night) as French toast! I beat one whole egg with a bit of cream and some cold star anise tea, and soaked the slices before frying in butter. I topped with a drizzle of anise-simmered syrup. Wow! It smelled so good that I didn't have the patience to photograph it properly, so I just dug in.
Coconut Lime Torte
2 cups almond meal
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flour
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about two limes)
Rind of 1 whole (unwaxed) lime
1 cup sugar or equivalent substitute
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
6 medium eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1.Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9" round or springform pan.
2. Combine the nuts, rind, sugar (or substitute), salt, and baking powder in an electric mixer or food processor and pulse a few times until any lumps are broken up.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the oil and lime juice. Continue to mix at high speed for a couple minutes to work some air into the batter--it should grow in size a bit.
4. Pour into a greased springform pan and place in the oven. The baking time will vary depending on your oven and the humidity in the environment. Start checking it about 30 minutes into baking. It will be ready when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
5. When ready to glaze, mix the powdered sugar, water, and lime juice together until smooth. Drizzle all over the cake and allow to set. Serve immediately after glazing.
Additional Serving Suggestions:
**Serve day-old cake in "cream" puddle of 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream simmered for a couple minutes with 4 star anise and 2 teaspoons of sugar.
**Serve slightly stale cake as French toast using a batter of 1 whole egg, 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, and 3 tablespoons of cold-brewed tea (I used leftover black leaf & star anise tea, but feel free to get creative!). Soak a slice in the batter on each side and fry in 1 tablespoon of butter. Serve with warm syrup (simmer with star anise, if desired).