It's hard to beat the combination of chocolate and coconut, as this irresistible dessert definitively proves. The intensely flavored pudding cake virtually disappears in your mouth, while the coconut ice cream provides a creamy and cool counterpoint. For good measure, an ethereal coconut emulsion is spooned about the plate. Finally, strips of crystallized ginger and slices of crispy toasted coquito nuts dropped on and around the cake offer whimsical textural notes. Decadent? Perhaps. Heavenly? By all means.
Coconut Ice Cream:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/4 cups coconut water (not coconut milk)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced coquito nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons julienned crystallized ginger
For the ice cream: Prepare an ice water bath. Bring the cream and coconut milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl; slowly pour in some of the hot cream to temper the yolks. Pour the eggs into the cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the custard coats the back of a spoon and steam rises from the top. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl and cool over the ice water bath, stirring occasionally, until the custard is chilled. Process the custard in an ice cream machine. Fold in the toasted coconut and keep the ice cream frozen until ready to use.
For the pudding cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with plastic wrap. Whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup of the brown sugar, 1/4 cup of the cocoa powder, and the baking powder. Fold in the cream and pour the batter into the plastic-lined pan. Mix the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder together and sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bring the coconut water to a boil and pour over the cake batter. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan; pour enough water into the roasting pan to come 1-inch up the side of the cake pan. Bake the cake in the water bath for 50 minutes. Cool the cake to room temperature and invert it onto a sheet pan. Carefully pull away the plastic wrap. There should be a gooey pudding-like substance on the bottom of the cake. Using a 4-inch diameter ring cutter, cut 4 portions from the cake. Clean the ring cutter before each cut.
Assembly: Place a piece of the pudding cake in the center of each plate. Spoon the frothy portion of the emulsion around the pudding cakes. Place a quenelle-shaped scoop of the ice cream next to the cake and sprinkle the toasted coconut, coquito nuts, and crystallized ginger over the ice cream and around the cake.
Wine Notes: The soft, nearly liquid texture of the pudding cake is similar to a flourless chocolate cake. The fifteen-year-old Bual Madeira from Cossart Gordon, a classic pairing with chocolate, has the acidity to cut through the rich cake, and its nuttiness boosts the flavor of the coconut ice cream.