These snow-white little cakes are as delicious as any coconut candy I’ve ever tasted. It’s not necessary to clarify the butter for these. Unsweetened coconut is available both as long shreds (like the sweetened coconut you can buy in the supermarket) or more finely ground. The shreds retain more moisture than the ground coconut does. Either may be used in this recipe, but if you use the shredded variety, pulse it in the food processor half a dozen times, not to grind it to a powder, but to reduce the shreds in size to about 1/8 inch.
Makes 24 individual cakes
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened dried coconut
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut, or unsweetened ground or shredded coconut, for topping the cakes before baking
Two 12-cavity mini muffin pans, buttered and floured
Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and unsweetened dried coconut; set aside.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until smooth, then whisk in the lemon zest and butter. Whisk in about half the dry ingredients, then use a rubber spatula to fold in the remainder.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling them about two thirds full. Sprinkle the top of each cake with a pinch of shredded coconut.
Bake the cakes until they are well risen and deep golden and they are firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 15 minutes. Invert them to a rack, then immediately turn them right side up and let them cool completely.
SERVING: Serve these after dessert with coffee, or as part of an assortment of desserts.
STORAGE: Keep the cakes loosely covered with plastic wrap on the day they are made. Arrange them in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover in one layer and refrigerate them for longer storage. Bring to room temperature before serving.