Lamingtons…the Aussie treat that I never knew even existed!
I learned a few months ago that all of this time, I’d been missing out on a fairly easy, yet deliciously delightful little treat called Lamingtons. Square pieces of sponge or pound caked enrobed in chocolate and sprinkled with dessicated coconut. I heard about this and instantly thought, “Whoa! Must. Have. Now!” Yeah…seriously, where have these been all of my life and why is it I waited till I was 34 to learn about these? I owe it all thanks to my fellow cubicle warrior Vince’s good client, Tim, an Aussie transplant who continues to enrich our lives with beer and food knowledge on a regular basis. He’s almost like me…only I have better hair and don’t have a weird accent 😉
But I digress…back to the lamingtons! As I said before, lamingtons consist of 3 core ingredients: sponge cake, chocolate, and dessicated coconut. From what I’ve learned, these are a fairly common staple and almost every Aussie household has their own variation on how they prepare it. I was able to find a recipe that seemed within my skill set and time frame to accomplish and set to work. While this may not be the lamington recipe that some of you have had before, it should be fairly close and equally delectable!
Not to be confused with the flaky, sweetened coconut that we have here in the states..dessicated coconut is just what it sounds like…dry coconut. Since I wasn’t able to find any here, I went with what I had, the flaky, sweetened stuff and Tim said it wasn’t bad at all. Now I don’t know about you, but I was pleased as punch with his stamp of approval. Yes, it’s true…I am pretty easy to please!
For sponge cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
For chocolate icing:
4 cups (1lb) confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
2 (8 ounce) packages flaked coconut (use desiccated coconut)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and center rack in oven. Prepare 8×8 cake pan with baking spray or butter.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated and scraping down sides of bowl. Add in vanilla extra and beat until well combined. With mixer on low speed, add in flour mixture and milk, in 3 additions, alternating, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until flour mixture is *just* incorporated. Do not overbeat.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with knife or offset spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan on for 10 minutes before turning cake out onto a wire rack and cooling completely overnight. Make sure cake is completely cooled before preparing icing…cake will need to firm up to be handled.
When cake is completely cooled, cut cake into 16 squares and set aside while you prepare the icing. In a large bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and cocoa. In a small heat proof bowl set atop a saucepan of simmering water (I call this the quickie double boiler), heat butter and milk until butter is melted. Whisk in cocoa mixture and continue to stir until mixture becomes smooth.
Now to assemble. Set a wire rack over a pan to catch any drips and arrange your cake pieces onto the rack. Place coconut in a very shallow bowl and set aside. Using a small spoon or ladle, drizzle/pour icing over each cake square until covered. You’ll have to roll each cake over to get the bottoms too. Lift cake out of icing and then roll it in coconut until covered on all sides. Place on prepared wire rack and allow it to set. Again, it’s critical that you’ve allowed the cakes to firm up overnight otherwise, they will completely fall apart during this step. Continue this for each piece until all of your lamingtons are done! Once they’ve set, they may be stored in airtight containers for up to a week.