Wednesday, March 12, 2014


In this post, I'll put my pitch-perfect irony aside because I'll be reminiscing about my son as a 18-month-old, a wonderful time during which he was perfectly playful, agreeable, happy, and most importantly, so plump and round he could be easily drawn in 2D as a series of overlapping circles.

One of the first multisyllabic words my son pronounced was pandecocco. It is not a proper word, actually, but just some cute Italian-sounding gibberish that he loved to repeat over and over. Pandecocco sounds a lot like "pane di cocco," or coconut bread, but there's no way he meant that. I often asked him to point to a pandecocco around the house, and the closest explanation I got was him cheerfully pointing to the USB port on my laptop.

Months passed, and my son slowly stopped invoking pandecocco, but I remained intrigued... So intrigued I decided to bring this adorable nonsense into the real world in the form of a proper coconut bread. This would also serve as a trick to hear my son say "pandecocco" again and again into his preschool years and possibly until his voice changes. (Then I guess the magic will dissipate.)

Pandecocco became a coconut cake inspired by this Key Lime Coconut Cake by Gourmet. I made a few modifications to make it less sugary and super-quick to prepare (i.e. much less fancy, sorry). And then yesterday, I simply spooned  the dough into a muffin pan to have 12 little pandecocco to make my son's little head explode. Worked like a charm.

The resulting mini-cakes (I hesitate to call them cupcakes, although this is pretty much what they are... Also because that would confirm my fear that you cannot have a food blog without having cupcakes just show up at some point, which is a terrifying thought, really.)... Sorry, where was I? So, the resulting mini-cakes are very moist, fragrant, and not too sweet, and they will give you a whiff of summer in this very miserable end of winter 2014. Serve them for breakfast, for a snack, or even as a dessert. They were brought into this world by a toddler, so keep them playful.


1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 tbps lemon extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
3/4 milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Extra-virgin olive oil (spray)

Equipment: small baking pan, non-stick 12-well muffin pan, electric hand mixer, mixing bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and spray the wells of the muffin pan with the extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Toast coconut in the oven using a baking sheet for about 8–12 min, or until golden. Be careful because it gets from golden to burnt very quickly.
  • Using an electric hand mixer with the dough attachments, beat together butter, sugar, and lemon extract until fluffy. Beat in eggs.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour, baking powder, and 1/2 of the toasted coconut. Stir in milk and yogurt. Dough should be lumpy.
  • Spoon batter into the muffin pan and sprinkle with the remaining shredded coconut.
  • Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 15–20 minutes.