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This is my 100th post.


That means I have sat down in front of a computer exactly 100 times, writing and sharing my recipes and life with you all.


This post is a big, big thank you to all of you for reading, and commenting, and chatting, and being so encouraging. I love you guys!


Now when I asked everyone what they want my 100th post to be about, most said a decadent recipe, others said an embarrassing story, and still others said a top ten list of something fun.


A 100th post is a pretty big deal right? So what do you say we do ALL 3! And I’ll throw in a giveaway for good measure! :D yay!


First up, since we’ve just had Valentine’s Day and all that, I present my romance-themed top ten list.


Here’s my top ten list on How to be irresistible to women. (Since I’m a woman, clearly, I am an authority on this subject. Men I hope you’re reading :P )


1. Cook us a meal. Even if it’s just once in a while. Men who cook are sexy.
2. Be clean. Like not just fancy clothes, but the parts you think no one notices, like your toes and behind your ears.
3. There is no such thing as too much cologne. There is however, a thing as too little.
4. We may pretend we don’t care about things like flowers and chivalry and little surprises, but we secretly do. So be a gentleman.
5. Be good at something. Writing, dancing, being funny, mountain biking. Anything. But definitely something.
6. Love animals. Especially puppies. Don’t cringe when they lick your face and give you kisses. Smile instead.
7. Be an excellent hug giver. Hugs are important. Hugs are crucial. Just hug. And lots. Okay?
8. Read. Non fiction, Game of thrones, Asterix, 50 shades of Grey. Just read. (Don’t pretend you’ve not been tempted to read that last one there.)
9. When we ask you to sing us song, just sing it. We know you’re not Michael Buble. Just sing anyway, won’t you?
10. Be honest. Bare, naked honest. There is nothing we want more.


Ladies, do you agree?


Men, are we asking for too much? No, right? :)


Okay, now for the decadent recipe you wanted. When my friend Stuti brought me back this divine Balsamic vinegar from Modena, I knew I had to do something special with it.


Balsamic vinegar


What did I do? I soaked some strawberries in it and used them to top this Chocolate cheesecake.


Chocolate cheesecake 1


The cheesecake has an oreo base, a chocolate cream cheese centre, is topped with cream, and then balsamic-soaked strawberries with their juices over that.


You ask for decadent, and I deliver decadent baby.


Chocolate cheesecake 2


Eat only one sliver at a time, unless you enjoy passing out from over-eating in the middle of the day.


Mostly I just stared at this gorgeous thing.


Chocolate cheesecake 3


It was sinfully smooth and creamy.


Chocolate cheesecake 4


And the slightly tart and sticky strawberries were such a wonderful foil to the rich, dense, cream cheese.


Chocolate cheesecake 5


Make it on a special occasion and watch it vanish before your very eyes.


Chocolate cheesecake 6


Chocolate cheesecake with balsamic-soaked strawberries


Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 65 mins
Serves: 10


Ingredients:


For the cheesecake


2 packets of Oreo cookies, cream removed
2 tbsp butter, melted
250 g dark chocolate
900g cream cheese
225g caster sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 eggs


For the topping


200ml thick cream
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
about 15-20 strawberries


Method:


For the cheesecake


1. Preheat the oven to 160º C. Put the oreos in a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have crumbs. Pour into a bowl, add the melted butter and mix well. Layer the base of a 9-inch springform tin with the crumbs, pressing down well so they are packed tightly. Bake for 5 minutes.
2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler and set aside. Using an electric whisk, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and continue mixing. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until everything is well blended. Do not overmix.
3. Pour the cheesecake batter into the tin and bake for 1 hour. Switch off the oven and leave the tin inside until the cheesecake is completely cool. Run a knife around the inside edge of the tin to loosen the sides of the cheesecake and then refrigerate for 2-3 hours once cool.


For the topping


1. Thicken the cream by whipping it well.
2. Mix the balsamic vinegar and caster sugar together. Pour over the strawberries, give it a gentle mix, and set aside for a few minutes.


To assemble


1. Remove the cold cheesecake from the tin carefully and place on the serving plate.
2. Top with the whipped cream and balsamic-soaked strawberries. Pour the juices over and serve in slices.


Chocolate cheesecake 7


For those who wanted to see something embarrassing, I’m sharing this video of my colleagues and I doing the Gangnam style. We performed in front of the whole office and it was crazy amounts of fun. I’m the one in a dark pink tee :P


And now for the **GIVEAWAY**!!! I thought long and hard about what to give away this time, and I finally decided on this book by my most favourite chefs in the whole world.


Your Place or Mine Book


I still can’t believe I cooked for them a few months ago.


The book is full of easy recipes and really cute cartoons, and it’s written in George and Gary’s inimitable style.


To win this wonderful book, just comment below and tell me which is your favourite post on my blog. Yup, that’s it.


I’ll announce the winner by a random draw in 2 weeks time, so comment away :)


Now here’s one last look at the cheesecake. You know you want to.


Chocolate cheesecake 8


Thank you for being so wonderful. Have a happy, happy week ahead!


Love and hugs,
Storm


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Hello lovely people!


How’s the new year treating you’ll?


Have you made the resolutions you aren’t going to keep? :)


Isn’t it funny (and wonderful) how we make them every year anyway?


Here are mine:


*Get fitter (this includes regular exercise and attempting to eat healthier)
*Give my blog more love
*Spend more time with the people who are important to me
*Start playing the guitar again (this will be done with my very cool guitarist friend Aditi’s help)
*Learn to take better photographs
*Keep believing that the best is yet to come


I think the last one is the hardest. It’s difficult to believe that good things will come when you’ve had a spate of bad things. It’s hard to have faith in people, believing that there’s good inside them, even when they’ve let you down. It’s even harder believing that God has plans for you – the best plans.


But this year, I’m staying positive, and happy, and bright. Because good things will come. I know it. I just need to remember it :)
Will you remind me if I forget?


Here’s a look at some good things that happened over December when I was home. Each one is a blessing.


Dinner with my oldest friends in one of our favourite restaurants.


Old friends and dinner


This gorgeous flower that bloomed on our balcony.


Red flower


A funky new-age Christmas tree my brother put together.


new age Christmas tree


The freshest, greenest, tastiest lettuce ever – from my aunt’s garden.


Lettuce


A massive projector set up by my Dad and brother in our living room, so we could watch movies huddling together under blankets while sipping hot tea.


Projector


And this puppy soaking up the sun, who brings us all such joy.


Puppy in the sun


In the midst of some terribly sad things that happened, us cousins got together and decided we needed to make something sweet.


The result was this stunning Strawberry Pavlova.


Pavlova 1


Everyone helped.


Here’s my brother whisking the egg whites.


Whisking away


Baby cousin washed the strawberries.


Cleaning strawberries


Another added sugar and smiles.


Sugar and smiles


And this pretty one cut up the strawberries.


Cutting strawberries


Even the littlest one contributed. He kept the puppy busy :)


Puppy and baby


This dessert is show-stopper. Expect everyone to drop their plates and stare at it in all its wonder.


Just look at it.


Pavlova 2


And it’s the easiest thing to make. Have a go!


Strawberry pavlova


Largely adapted from: Step by step Baking


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 80 mins
Serves: 8


Ingredients:


6 egg whites
pinch of salt
350 g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp lemon juice
300ml heavy cream
200 g strawberries


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line a baking tray with parchment. Draw a 20cm circle on the parchment and turn it over, so the pencil mark is facing downwards.
2. Put the egg whites and salt in a large, clean bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until you have stiff peaks. Whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Mix in the cornflour and lemon juice as well.
3. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment, making sure you stay within the drawn-out circle. Flatten the centre slightly and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 160º C and bake for 75 minutes. Leave it to cool completely in the oven.
4. In the meantime, whip the cream until it thickens. Wash and clean the strawberries, then roughly chop them into halves.
5. Remove the cooled pavlova from the oven and take off the parchment. Place on a serving plate and crack the top slightly with a spoon. Spread the cream over and top with the strawberries. Serve in rough wedges.


Pavlova 3


Sorry I can’t offer you some pavlova, but here’s something fun!


*GIVEAWAY TIME*


CupoNation India, a website offering discount coupons for a number of leading online retailers in India like flipkart, snapdeal, homeshop18 and many more, wants to give one of you lucky readers a Flipkart voucher worth 500 INR. All you have to do is leave me a comment below telling me which offer you love the most on CupoNation India


I’ll choose one winner through a random draw and announce it in my next post. Comment away!


And have a wonderful, wonderful year ahead! Lots of love!


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An Onion tart at home

I’m a bit late with this post. Been busy- but that’s no excuse. Regular posts from here on out! :)


So when I was home last week, in between cuddles from my dog Simba, large mouthfuls of divine food, and general happiness, I realized my fingers were itching to bake something.


I didn’t want fancy. I wanted comforting and wholesome and warm. Something like home.


And something like that has to be made with ingredients you’d always have at hand.


A little bit of kneading, chopping, and whisking later I had exactly what I wanted.


This gorgeous Onion tart.



The tart case was flaky and buttery.
The caramelised onions were a beautiful honey-colour and slightly sweet.
And the cream and eggs provided an undeniable warmth.


One slice of this baby, and you’re guaranteed to close your eyes in a deep sigh.



It tastes of home.


Caramelised Onion Tart
Adapted from: Step-by-step Baking


Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 80-85 mins
Serves: 6


Ingredients:


150 g plain flour
75 g butter, chilled and cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing
1 egg yolk


For the filling:


2 tbsp olive oil
25 g butter
500 g onions, finely sliced
salt and pepper to taste
200 ml cream
1 large egg, plus 1 yolk


Method:



For the tart case


1. Rub the flour and butter together in a large bowl until you have fine crumbs. Beat the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of cold water and add it to the crumbs. Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Lightly grease a 22 cm (9in) loose-bottomed tart tin with butter. Roll out the dough gently and then use your hands to spread it evenly all around the base and sides of the tin. Make sure there aren’t too many bumpy parts. Use a fork to make some holes all over the dough and then cover with some baking parchment. Top with baking beans and bake for about 25 minutes. Take out from the oven, remove the parchment and the baking beans and pop back in the oven for 5 minutes more. Remove and leave to cool.



For the filling and assembling


1. Heat the oil and butter in a large non-stick pan. Add the onions and season well. Cook on high heat until the onions just begin to brown. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while. Remember that we want the onions to become soft, but not burn them. Take the cover off, and cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes till any liquid in the pan dries up. Once sightly cool, spoon this onion mixture into the cooled tart case. Spread it out evenly all over the base.
2. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Whisk the cream, egg, and yolk together and season well. Pour this mixture over the onions and spread it out evenly.
3. Place the tart on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. For the last 2 minutues, use your grill setting to get a lovely brown top. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Remove gently from the tin and place on a serving plate. Slice and enjoy :)


Drop me a comment telling me what food defines “home” for you :)

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Black forest cake

So I’m really obsessed with this book.



Beautifully written- it’s strangely modern and hauntingly poetic at the same time.


The characters are so real, you’ll definitely identify with more than one.


There are forests and dragons and swords and direwolves. Seriously, how can you not love it already?


I’ve always found the name “Black forest” cake very intriguing. When I looked for the origin (secretly hoping for a tale of a dark forest shrouded in mystery and magic), I was a little disappointed to find out it was named after a very normal and non-magical German region.


What does not disappoint however, is this cake.



Indulgent, moist, and creamy- it has magical qualities :)



Too bad I can’t have a direwolf. At least I have cake. And that will suffice for now :)



Black forest cake
Adapted from: Step-by-step Baking


Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 40 mins
Serves: 10


Ingredients:


85 g butter, melted and cooled, plus a bit extra for greasing
6 eggs
170 g caster sugar
120 g flour, sifted
50 g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract


For the filling/topping


1X 400g tin of red cherries, including the juice
4 tbsp brandy (use Kirsch if you have it)
600 ml cream
200 g dark chocolate, grated


Method:


For the cake



1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line a 9-inch round baking tin with parchment paper and grease the base and sides with butter.
2. Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and make it sit on a saucepan filled with water. The base of the bowl should not touch the water. Put the saucepan (with the bowl over it) over a medium flame and as it starts to get warm, begin whisking the egg-sugar mixture until it is pale and thick. Remove from the heat and whisk for another 5 minutes, till it becomes a bit cool.



3. Add the flour and cocoa, spoon by spoon into the egg mixture, folding it in very gently using a spatula. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, fold in the butter and vanilla extract as well.



Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake starts coming away from the sides. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
4. Once cool, slice the cake horizontally into 2 even layers and place them on separate plates.


For the filling/topping


1. Mix the brandy in the reserved cherry juice. Slowly drizzle this over the 2 separate layers of cake. Do this a little at time: so the liquid is soaked up by the cake before you add more.
2. Pit the cherries and cut them in halves.



Whip the cream to soft peaks. Now it’s time to assemble the cake. Put the first layer down gently on the serving platter and cover the top with cream (all of it save a little) and the cherries (save some of the best cherries for the top of the cake). Top with the second layer of cake.
3. With a knife spread a little bit of cream around the sides and top of the cake and press the grated chocolate all over.



Dot the top of the cake with cherries. Serve!



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Banoffee pie is magical. You have to agree.
Gooey caramel, you’re wonderful. I want to marry thee.
Biscuit, bananas, and whipped cream: how perfect are you three?
Banoffee pie is magical. You have to agree.


Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can tell you about the Banoffee challenge.


To celebrate watching the final part of the LOTR trilogy- The Return of the King (btw how HOT is Aragorn?!), two Banoffees were to be made. One by me and one by a friend.



Except that this friend bought it instead of making it! He wants to remain name-less of course, but it’s his birthday today- so Happy Birthday :)


I tried to create Anduril (Aragorn’s sword) on my Banoffee pie. It is of course, more the spirit of the sword, than a realistic version :)



At the end of the day, there was just a lot of delicious Banoffee on everyone’s plate. And no one was complaining :)



If you want to see what I baked for the other LOTR movie viewings, here they are:


The Fellowship of the Ring- Sauron’s eye cupcakes
The Two Towers- Ent Tart
Also, I made Banoffee once before with ice-cream instead of cream. We died a bit with the sweetness, but other than that it was nice!


Mondays are better with Banoffee pie. Actually all days are :)
Make some and you’ll see.


Banoffee Pie


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 4 hours (the caramel) + cooling + setting
Serves: 8


Ingredients:


400g tin condensed milk
120 g digestive biscuits, roughly crushed
30 g butter, melted
3 ripe bananas, sliced into rounds
200 ml cream
2 tbsp icing sugar


Method:


1. First we need to make the Dulce de leche. This is the BEST caramel of your life. And it couldn’t be easier to make. Just put an unopened tin of condensed milk in a pan of water (the tin should be covered all the way with water) and let it boil on a simmer for 4 hours. Keep adding water to make sure the whole tin is covered throughout the boiling process. After 4 hours, take it off the flame and let it come to room temperature. Open it only once it’s absolutely cool. What you see will be the best caramel you’ve ever eaten.
2. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and line the base of your serving dish with the biscuit crumbs in an even layer, pressing down as you do so.
3, Add your heavenly caramel or Dulce de leche all over the biscuit base in an even layer. Top with the sliced bananas and refrigerate.
4. Whip the cream with the icing sugar till semi-solid peaks form. Take the dish out of the refrigerator and put the whipped cream over the bananas in an even layer, before chilling again. Let it set overnight for best results or at least for 5 hours before you dig in.

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So Whoopie pies and Truffles won the vote! I made both, but first- the Truffles.

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These are SO easy to make and SO good to eat, it’s dangerous.

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My friend ate one and told me it was the best thing I’ve ever made.

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If you have chocolate and cream and liqueur at home, make this NOW.

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(Also, if you have all those things at home I think we can be best friends. So say hi , won’t ya?) :)

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All you need to do is make a ganache. (Ganache is one of those words you want to keep saying, coz it makes you feel fancy :))

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Ganache= Chocolate + cream (+ Drambuie in this case)

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Please use the best chocolate you can find. I always use dark chocolate. The better the chocolate, the richer and more wonderful your truffles will turn out.

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The ganache is rolled out into small chocolate balls and coated with cocoa powder.

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And there you have it. Truffles.

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Make some now!

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Drambuie dark chocolate truffles

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Prep time: 20 mins, plus chilling
Cook time: 5 mins
Makes: 20

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Ingredients:

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225 g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
120 ml heavy cream
2 tbsp Drambuie
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder

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Method:

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1. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan over a low heat. When it starts to simmer, add the Drambuie and stir well. Keep stirring and pushing the cream down the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. This is your ganache. Leave to cool, and then refrigerate for two hours.
2. Line a plate with parchment paper. Scoop out one tablespoon of ganache at a time and roll into a ball between your palms. Place on the paper. You will have to work quickly here because the heat from your hands will melt the chocolate.
3. Chill again for 5-6 hours. Remove and roll in cocoa powder. Bite into one and tell me how good it is! :)

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Note: If you don’t have any liqueur at home, you could just use vanilla extract instead. All other liquers work really well: try Baileys or Kahlua also. If you don’t like the bitter taste of the cocoa on the outside, substitute with desiccated coconut or finely chopped almonds.

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Here’s a picture of my fuzzy, cuddly puppy before you leave. Don’t you want to just eat him up? :)

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Coconut. Most people either sing songs about its wonderful sweetness, or grumble if they taste it in anything except a Thai curry.

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I adore it. I have a feeling it’s due to my mixed Bong-Mallu (For the uninitiated that’s Bengali-Malyali) DNA.

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Coconut is one ingredient that serves you well in both sweet and savoury dishes.

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It’s wonderfully versatile.

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Coconut sprinkles make cupcakes prettier.

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Coconut oil makes banana chips taste heavenly.

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Coconut cream makes me weep with joy every time I sip a Pina Colada.

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Coconut milk is bliss in Malai Curry (Bengali prawn curry with coconut milk).

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Coconut bits in Kerala beef curry. Killer.

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I could go on. But here’s my little coconut celebration.

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Enjoy!

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Coconut cake with coconut cream frosting

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Serves: 10

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Ingredients:

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125 g butter (salted is fine, but softened), plus a bit more for greasing
1 tsp coconut extract or flavour
200 g castor sugar
2 large eggs
50 g desiccated coconut, plus a bit more for sprinkling
175 g flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
250 g yogurt
100 ml milk
250 ml coconut cream tin (left in the fridge overnight)
5 tbsp icing sugar
1 drop violet food colour

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Method:

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For the cake

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1. Preheat the oven to 180º C and line a 20 cm round cake tin with baking parchment. Grease the whole tin with some melted butter.
2. In a large bowl mix the butter, coconut flavour and sugar together. Add the eggs one by one and gently beat together.
3. Now add the coconut, flour, baking powder, yogurt and milk and mix vigorously until you have a smooth batter.
4. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let it cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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For the frosting

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1. Take the coconut cream out of the fridge and open the tin. Carefully scoop out only the cream from the top of the tin. Leave the water that’s at the bottom. (You could drink it later- it’s delicious!)
2. Put the cream into a mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to whisk for a few minutes. When it begins to get slightly thick, add the icing sugar and food colour. Whisk for a few minutes more and then put away in the fridge to keep cool.
3. Once the cake is cool, slice it in half horizontally and spread half the coconut frosting inside. Cover with the top half of the cake and spread the remaining frosting over. Sprinkle some desiccated coconut on top. Serve!

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