My two youngest boys are heading to Australia this Summer as part of a People to People Student Ambassador program….I am so jealous! Through class instruction and on-line study guides they have learned a lot about their destination, and for a final project prior to travel they were tasked with sharing something specific to the Australian culture with their fellow ambassadors. Arthas chose to do a project on indigenous wildlife in Australia, but in true "Oui, Chef" fashion, Boris set his sites on a food project.
There were a few goodies that immediately made the short list, and pretty quickly we narrowed down the choices to three possibilities. The first, Pavlova is a lovely baked meringue confection topped with fresh berries and whipped cream. It is one of my favorite desserts, but doesn't travel well at all and so was pulled from contention. The second, ANZAC biscuits are an awesome oat cookie made with golden syrup that almost got the nod, but we knew of at least one other student who was going to make them, so we decided instead to settle on these delicious Lamingtons.
These jam filled and chocolate-coconut coated cakes are named after a Lord Lamington (once the Governor of Queensland), and came about (if legend is to be believed) when his cook accidentally dropped a chunk of his favorite sponge cake into a vat of melted chocolate. A delicious culinary accident if there ever was one! Some boring folks make their Lamingtons without a filling in the center, others choose either some type of jam filling, or more chocolate. For me, the combination of raspberry and chocolate is so good that the choice was simple, though to be honest I thought an orange marmalade center would be killer as well. In the end it was Boris' call to make and he decided to roll with the raspberry jam (that would be the seedless variety, thank you very much).
While you may be tempted to roll these in the easier to find "Sweetened Coconut Flakes"….don't. Not because the sweetness will be a problem (these are not overly sweet treats), but because sweetened coconut flakes are quite sticky, and they'll be a total mess to pick up and eat. Search around for some dessicated coconut (which also is generally more finely shredded that sweetened flakes), you can find them in the health food section of most markets.
There are a zillion Lamington recipes available on-line, but after a quick surveillance of the scene we chose one by one of our favorite food bloggers, David Lebovitz. David, who is living the dream as an ex-pat living in Paris, used to be the pastry chef at Chez Panisse….yeah, he knows his stuff. These are a fun treat to make with your kids, and are super tasty. In fact, I think Arthas ate close to a dozen of them himself, which was borderline disgusting. I've asked Boris to watch out for his older brother's Lamington intake when in Australia. We don't want an international incident now, do we.
Cheers – Steve and Boris
for the spongecake:
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cup cake flour (we use Swans Down)
- 2 1/2 ounces melted, unsalted butter, at room temperature
for the chocolate icing:
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (we use Valrhona)
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 1 cup raspberry preserves (with or without seeds, your choice)
- 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (often called dessicated coconut). Do not use sweetened coconut, it will make the Lamingtons REALLY sticky.
for the cake:
- Heat the oven to 350℉. Butter a 9-inch cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer and using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, salt, and sugar on high speed until satiny, and thickened to the point where a well defined ribbon falls when you lift the whisk, about 7-8 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.
- Sift the flour over the egg mixture, then using a rubber spatula, gently incorporate into the whipped eggs. When no dry traces of flour remain, pour the cooled butter into the mix and gently fold until no streaks of butter are left visible.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cake starts to pull away from the side of the pan and a tester placed into the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a cooling rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan.
- When cool, run a butter knife around the edges of the cake to loosen and un-mold the spongecake onto a cutting board. Remove the parchment. Cut the cake in half horizontally using a serrated bread knife.
- Using an offset spatula, coat the bottom half of the cake with the raspberry jam, top with the other half of the cake to make a large raspberry sandwich, then let set while you make the chocolate sauce to allow the jam to soak a bit into the cake.
- To make the chocolate coating, melt the chocolate with the butter and milk in the top of a double boiler, whisk gently to incorporate. Remove from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, whisk until smooth.
- Cut the cake into 16 squares by cutting a 4x4 grid with the serrated knife.
- Pour the chocolate into a large bowl and the coconut into another large bowl. Whisk the 2 tablespoons of hot water into the chocolate to loosen it some, then working 1 at a time, take the 16 pieces of cake and submerge them fully into the chocolate (holding them with your fingertips). Lift from the chocolate and while shaking it gently, let any excess drain back into the bowl. Carefully place the piece in the coconut and roll around to coat with your dry hand. remove the coated Lamington to a drying rack placed over a sheet tray to set. Repeat with the other cake pieces until all are finished.