Oh, hey! How’s it going? Are you still firing up the BBQ and wearing your bikini on repeat? Are you tearing into a watermelon and soaking up the sun the way Sheryl Crow intended? You are?! Well, good! Because contrary to what the candy aisle in my grocery store thinks, it’s still summer for, like, another whole month. Hey! Grocery store! We don’t want to see your Halloween candy. Let August be August, a hot, humid summer month. I don’t want to be reminded of pumpkins and cable knit sweaters. There will be plenty of time for that in October. But for now, there is this *seasonally appropriate* Tropical Cream Cake. It tastes like summer, it looks like summer, it is summer.
I understand the marketing logic behind this pre-autumn push. We, as consumers, always want what we don’t currently have. In the spring we rush to buy the bikinis we won’t be able to wear for months and in August we crush on leather boots we’ll have to wait until November to wear. It makes a lot of sense to remind people of an idealized version of each season before they’re in the thick of it. Once a season starts you remember things like humidity is soul-crushing, cold rain is miserable, and snow is heavy af to shovel. So, making a plea for our dollars when we’re still excited about the first snowfall or trip to the lake is just smart.
But in the interest of not wishing away my life, I’ve been making an active effort to stay present. To enjoy my current context as much as possible. And sometimes that effort involves tropical fruit and delicious cake. So, let’s banish all thoughts of fall from our minds, celebrate the summer we’re in and talk about this Tropical Cream Cake.
When I first turned my mind towards the concept of creating a summery cake, I made a mental note of what ingredients I deemed to be “tropical”. Initially, I thought of pineapple but, honestly, it felt a little basic. I use quite a bit of pineapple in my day to day, so there was no challenge there. Then I thought of passion fruit and I knew I had hit pay dirt.
Passion fruit is one of those things I love but never buy. Sure, I’ll indulge in a scoop of passion fruit gelato at my local but I could not recall a single time I used one in the kitchen. Well, this seemed like the perfect time to rewrite that sad fact, so passion fruit curd made it into the Tropical Cream Cake.
The strangest thing about the origins of this cake is that the actual cake was the last thing I figured out. I could not for the life of me think of what cake would be “tropical” enough for a Tropical Cream Cake. Again, pineapple flickered into my mind and again I dismissed it. It was too predictable. So, then my mind turned to nuts and almost immediately macadamia nuts took center stage.
Macadamia trees are indigenous to New South Wales and Queensland in Australia. The trees were later brought to the Kona region in Hawaii in 1916, where the nuts are still cultivated today. So yeah, I’d say the macadamia nut has a pretty strong tropical pedigree. And being a born and bred North American, I simply cannot think of macadamia nuts without thinking of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. There was a time during my university career where I swear I was fueled by the Subway version of this cookie. Sure, I OD’d on them during that semester, but they still hold a place in my heart. So, it was decided, the cake for this Tropical Cream Cake would be white chocolate macadamia nut.
The coconut buttercream was a no-brainer. I took my usual buttercream recipe and added coconut extract instead of vanilla. No fuss, no muss. Feel free to get as creative or as low key as you care to when decorating this Tropical Cream Cake. Particularly if you’re simply whipping up this cake for your nearest and dearest. I’m not going to lie, this decorating scheme took some time, patience and food coloring gel. If you can’t be bothered, that’s no problem. A simple frosting of snow white coconut buttercream and a few fresh-cut organic flowers is all this beauty really needs.
So, that’s everything you need to know about this Tropical Cream Cake. Whip one up this week and celebrate the wonder that is summer while it’s still here.
Tropical Cream Cake with Passionfruit Curd
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cake
- 2 1/4 all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup mini white chocolate chips tossed in a little flour
- 3/4 cup macadamia nuts coarsely chopped
Passion Fruit Curd
- 8-9 passion fruit
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter cubed
- 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 550 g 19oz confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Grease and line 3 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Place the butter and the sugar in a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the sugar into the butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, holding off until each egg is fully incorporated before adding another.
- Add a 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter and beat until fully incorporated. Next, add 1/2 of the buttermilk. Continue in this pattern until all of the buttermilk and the flour mixture is integrated.
- Decrease the speed of the mixture and add the chocolate chips and nuts. Stir until evenly dispersed.
- Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter amongst the 3 cake pans. Tap the pans on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles.
- Transfer the cakes to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick an be cleanly inserted in the center of each cake.
- Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes before removing them and placing them on a cooling rack to let cool completely.
- When the cakes have cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and transfer the layers to the fridge until ready to decorate.
For the Curd
- Halve the passion fruit and scoop out the pulp. Place the pulp in a food processor and pulse to separate the membrane from the seeds. But don't blitz so much that you crack the seeds.
- Pour the contents of the food processor into a fine mesh strainer. Separate the juice from the solids and set both aside.
- Pour the juice into a small saucepan and add the salt and sugar. Stir until the sugar starts to dissolves. Add the egg yolks and whisk until well integrated.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low simmer while whisking constantly. Cook until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon readily. About 7-10 minutes. Take the saucepan off of the heat and stir in the butter. Whisk until the butter has melted and is fully integrated. Next, stir in a heaping tablespoon of the reserved passion fruit seeds.
- Let the curd cool to room temperature before transferring it to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours.
For the Buttercream
- Place the butter in a large stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on a high speed until the butter becomes fluffy and turns nearly white.
- Slowly add the confectioner's sugar, taking care to lower the speed of the mixer with each new addition.
- Now, if you are coloring the buttercream as pictured, place 6 ice cream scoops worth of the buttercream in a large bowl and set aside. Place 3 scoops of buttercream in 3 smaller bowls and set aside.
- Take a 1/3 of the cream and a 1/3 of the coconut extract and whip it into the large bowl of buttercream. Divide the remaining cream and extract amongst 3 small bowls. Add a small amount of yellow color gel to one bowl, blue to another, and peach to the other. Whisk the colors into the cream and extract and pour over each of the three smaller bowls of buttercream. Whisk until integrated.
- Level each of the cake layers so they are even.
- Place a dollop of buttercream on a cake drum and place the drum on a turn table. Place the first layer of cake on top of the buttercream.
- Transfer the uncolored buttercream to a large piping bag with a wide round nozzle. Pipe a border of buttercream on top of the first layer cake. Spoon passion fruit curd into the center of the border.
- Place the second layer of cake on top of the first and pipe another buttercream border and add some more curd. Place the third cake layer on top. Ice the cake with thin crumb layer of uncolored buttercream. Transfer the cake to the fridge and chill for 1 hour.
- Take the remaining buttercream and place each color in separate small piping bags, each with their own unique nozzles. Pipe the colored buttercream all over the cake in a pleasing fashion. Fill any holes with white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
- Finish the cake with fresh-cut organic flowers and serve immediately or chill until ready to serve. Be sure to let the cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing.