The Fluffiest Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

My friend Ryan O’Connell is a superstar in every sense. Not only does he have his own show on Netflix, he was featured this weekend in a New York Times article about artists as activists. (Coincidentally, the article was written by Mark Harris, a Lunch Therapy alumni, just like Ryan.)

Suffice it to say, I feel very lucky to call Ryan a friend. And knowing that his birthday was coming up, and that he’s part of our quarantine bubble (a very small group of friends that we still see), I asked if he had a menu in mind for his birthday dinner. He didn’t hesitate: “Oooh, can we have Martha’s Mac and Cheese?” (The best of all time, in case you didn’t know that.) “Oh, and maybe a salad with peaches? Peaches are season, right?” (They are.) “And can we do a coconut cake for dessert?” “You got it,” I replied.

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Pizzeria Mozza’s Coconut Sorbet Pie

Despite the fact that I’ve been in New York for a week now, and that I’ve eaten many wonderful meals so far, the dish I can’t get out of my head is a dish I had in L.A. just before I left. True, I already mentioned it in my newsletter (subscribe here!) and true I’ve written enough about Pizzeria Mozza on this site already it may as well become a Mozza fan page. (It was, after all, my pick for #1 restaurant in L.A.) But this dessert! Let me tell you about this dessert…

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Drunk Blondies

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Repeat after me: Butter. Chocolate. Pecans. Coconut. Bourbon.

Again: Butter. Chocolate. Pecans. Coconut. Bourbon.

On Saturday night, we joined our friends Brendan and Danny for a screening of “Sunset Blvd.” at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. (You can read all about that in this week’s newsletter.) I was assigned the task of bringing a salad and a dessert. The salad was cous cous with roasted broccoli; let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s talk about the dessert… a dessert that featured (everyone!) butter, chocolate, pecans, coconut and Bourbon. A dessert so addictive no one could stop eating it.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

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If you’ve ever seen “Fiddler On The Roof,” you probably know the term “yenta.” A yenta, in Yiddish, is a busybody, a meddler; in “Fiddler,” though, she’s a specific person, a matchmaker.

My whole life, I’ve always been something of a yenta. I love to get involved with people’s life decisions, telling people where to work, where to live, who to date. I’m kind of annoying that way. Which is why, over the years, I’ve pulled back a bit and let people lead the lives they want to lead, not getting too involved. And as far as matchmaking, occasionally I’ll set people up–I have some successes under my belt, some disasters too–though now I think I’m better off applying my skills to food: which is why I decided to pair pineapple upside-down cake with homemade toasted coconut ice cream.

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European-Style Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Once I was at Murray’s Cheese with David Lebovitz and he stopped to admire the butter from Vermont.

I’ll confess, up to that point, I hadn’t given butter that much thought. For years I’d been buying Breakstones–you know, the kind that comes in the red box–and using it pretty universally. But then, after David talked about baking with Vermont-style butter, I began to wonder: “What would happen if I switched up the butter in my baking? How would that change things?” It took a few more years before I put that question to the test.

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