These little cakes would look great on a Christmas cookie tray and they come together in minutes. Because they remind me of Mounds candy bars, I couldn't resist a little drizzle of chocolate atop each one. They are slightly chewy and moist, with a snow-white crumb and a clean coconut flavor. Try these as an easy addition to your holiday baking.
Individual Coconut Cakes (adapted from "Bake!, Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking", by Nick Malgieri)
Makes 24 individual cakes
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened dried coconut (long shred coconut should be chopped into 1/8 inch pieces in the food processor)
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut for topping the cakes before baking
Butter and flour mini-muffin pans, and preheat the oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and unsweetened dried coconut; set aside. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until smooth (you don't want meringue, just enough whisking to eliminate the "ropey" texture),then whisk in the lemon zest and butter. Whisk in about half the dry ingredients, then use a rubber spatula to fold in the remainder. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling them about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the top of each cake with a pinch of shredded coconut.
Bake the cakes until they are well-risen and deep golden and they are firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 15 minutes. Invert them to a rack, then immediately turn them right side up and let them cool completely.
Keep the cakes covered with plastic wrap on the day they are made. For longer storage arrange in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid in one layer and refrigerate. If you want to decorate them with chocolate, simply melt several ounces of your favorite dark, semisweet chocolate and drizzle over the cakes with a parchment paper cone or a spoon.
*If you prefer you can bake the batter in a 8x2 inch round cake pan (buttered and floured). It will take about 20 minutes to bake; test for doneness with a cake tester in the center of the cake. Unmold, cool, and serve in wedges with a scoop of blood orange or coconut sorbet alongside.