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We had a friend whom I loved very much – a woman named Johna.  Johna waxed eloquent about her home state of Texas and said things like, “I’m fixin’ to…” and “y’all,” and “I reckon….”  Johna taught me about loving your husband with your whole heart and how faith in God can turn a less-than-desirable situation in to one that is pretty darned amazing.  She taught me about “real cornbread” (which, although I tried, I still don’t like) and taught me the finer points of making my award-winning chili.  She died far too young (in her early 50s) and is deeply missed, more than 10 years later.

But in our home, Johna lives on in the recipes she shared with me.  One is her cranberry salad, which I make during the holidays, and the other is with her Mounds (and/or Piña Colada) Cake.  The cakes are dependent upon a product which is challenging to find, namely Coco Lopez.  Coco Lopez is a sweetened coconut milk that’s often used in mixed drinks, but can also be used for desserts.  The cans are small and it’s fairly expensive.  When you pair those factors with “hard to find,” most people will simply do without a cake that requires it, no matter how luscious it is.

We have another friend, Ashley, who is a coconut fiend – even more than I am coconut-crazy.  A few years ago, I made her a Piña Colada cake (the kissing-cousin to the Mounds Cake) and this year, we celebrated her birthday with the Mounds Cake.  The trouble was that I only had a small portion of Coco Lopez in the freezer, leftover from the last time I used it.  And as I pulled it out, I realized that I didn’t have enough to complete the cake – and Mark had the car for the day.  This was going to be a problem.  I found no recipes online for anything of the sort, so I set about to create my own.

I looked in the cabinets and realized that my coconut-nuttiness was about to pay off – because although I didn’t have Coco Lopez, I did have something better:  real, organic coconut.  I reasoned that with this coconut product, which is finely-ground coconut and contains all the oil of the coconut, I could make my own version of Coco Lopez for a fraction of the cost, none of the inconvenience, and that it would likely taste much better.

Coconut Cream Concentrate is a product from Tropical Traditions, and is finely ground coconut (and nothing else) that tastes like fresh coconut, but comes in a jar.  It’s the safest and easiest way to eat fresh coconut here in the States (coconut spoils VERY rapidly outside of the tropics), and I keep it on hand for making curries, coconut milk, and other Asian and Indian recipes.  I’ll also be trying Wilderness Family Naturals Coconut Spread, which appears to be the same product, but through a different company.  Regardless, either product will work and it’s the base of this coconut cream recipe.

I liquified my coconut cream concentrate and added a bit of coconut oil in to help with consistency – sometimes the CCC can be very dense, especially at the bottom of the jar, which is what I was dealing with.  I stirred it around vigorously and then measured out what I needed.  At the same time, I created a simple syrup, which is made from equal amounts of sugar and water.  When the syrup boiled, I added in the CCC and stirred it well – and voilá!  A very tasty, much fresher version of Coco Lopez.  I’ll post the recipe here and the Mounds Cake recipe beneath it.

Sue’s Sweetened Coconut Cream

In a saucepan, combine sugar & water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Once syrup boils, remove it from heat.  Stir in coconut concentrate and move back to burner, stirring constantly over low heat.  When you see the sweetened coconut cream come together, give it a few more stirs and remove it from heat, allowing it to cool to room temperature.

Johna’s Mounds Cake
  • 1 dark chocolate cake mix, including whatever is required by box-directions
  • sweetened coconut cream (or nearly a full can of Coco Lopez)
  • 1 batch sour cream frosting (recipe below)
  • sweetened shredded coconut for garnish

Make the cake according to the box directions; bake, and as the cake cools (keep it in its baking-pan), poke the top of the entire cake with a fork.  You’ll want holes ALL OVER the surface of the cake, so don’t be shy with the fork.  Once the cake’s top is pierced generously, pour the sweetened coconut cream all over the cake and allow it to absorb.  I generally allow 2 hours for absorption; the cake should be completely cooled by the time you frost it.

Johna’s Sour Cream Frosting
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks

Combine the sour cream and sugar, making sure the sugar dissolves in the sour cream.  Gently fold in the whipped cream (the frosting will be somewhat thin as you fold in the whipped cream).  If you wish to have a stiffer frosting, in addition to whipping the cream, whip up 2 egg whites with a touch of sugar and fold in both the whipped cream & meringue to the sour cream-sugar combination.  Use the frosting immediately.

Assemble the cake (if necessary – I tend to use a 9×13″ pan for this cake), frost it, and garnish it with shredded coconut.  This cake is DIVINE – light, not overly-sweet, very moist, and perfectly coconut-y.  It’s a healthier-version of  Mounds candy bar – and is perfect for celebrations of all sorts.

Enjoy!

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