Almond Coconut Mousse Cake

serves 10-12

For the Cake

1 1/4 cups slivered almonds

1 cup cake flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

8 extra large eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Mousse

2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided

1 Tablespoon powdered gelatin

2 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup whole milk

6 extra large egg yolks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted in a 350º F oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to ensure even browning

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick baking spray.  Spread almonds on a baking sheet and roast, shaking pan once or twice, until lightly golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and cooled almonds.  Process the mixture until the almonds are finely ground.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks at medium speed until blended, about 1 minute.  Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar.  Increase the speed to high and beat until thickened and light in color, about 2 minutes.  Transfer mixture to a clean bowl (thoroughly clean the mixing bowl and whisk attachment before proceeding). 

 In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat on high until a stiff, glossy meringue forms.  Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the meringue into the the yolk mixture, then fold in one-third of the dry ingredients.  Continue gently folding, alternating ingredients until combined.

In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and almond extract.  Fold in about 1 cup of the cake batter into the butter mixture, then fold this mixture back into the the remaining batter.  Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 18-22 minutes. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Unmold cake onto racks and cool completely.

For the Mousse

Place 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top to soften.  In a medium saucepan, bring coconut milk and whole milk to a gentle boil.  Remove pan from the heat.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended.  Whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot coconut milk mixture.  Return entire mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon.  Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl.  Microwave the cream and gelatin on high for 15-30 seconds, until the cream is hot.  Stir until gelatin is dissolved.  Add the gelatin mixture to the coconut milk mixture and stir to combine.  Pour hot mixture into a large bowl and set bowl in a larger bowl filled one-third full with ice water, taking care not to splash water into  the coconut milk mixture.  Stir occasionally until chilled, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla and coconut extract.

Using a stand mixer, a hand-held mixer or a wire whisk, whisk the remaining 1 3/4 cup heavy cream to soft peaks.  Pour in the chilled coconut milk mixture and mix until well blended.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.  Refrigerate the mousse for 30 minutes but no longer or it may begin to set.

Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake half horizontally  (you will only need 3 layers for this recipe; save the remaining cake layer for breakfast or an after school snack).  Place one layer into the bottom of a 9"x3" springform pan with a tight fitting bottom, so the mousse doesn't seep out.  Pour 2 cups of mousse over cake, allowing it to fill the gap between the side of the pan and the edge of the cake.  Top with another cake layer and pour another 2 cups of mousse.  Top with the remaining cake layer and remaining mousse.  Refrigerate the cake for at least one hour before serving to allow the mousse to set. Carefully remove the side of the pan.  Pat the coconut onto the sides of the cake.  Enjoy!

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