Malaysian Monday 20 : Coconut Candy

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year again. What better way to start off the year than with something very sweet.
Coconut Candy is a much loved childhood treat very similar to the Australian “Coconut Ice”. The latter is uncooked and usually made with icing sugar and condensed milk. Malaysian Coconut Candy is created by cooking grated coconut, evaporated milk and granulated sugar. The end result has a fudge-like quality.

Coconut candy is considered party food, and is usually tinted a lurid red or green. It is extremely sweet and one or two pieces will suffice, so take heart resolute New Year’s dieters ☺ .

Desiccated coconut can be used in place of the fresh grated variety, but I’d found this packet of frozen coconut at the local Indian emporium and was keen to try it out. It’s funny how things have changed for me. Grated coconut used to be a dime a dozen when I lived in Malaysia, but I had to bake using canned pasteurised cream. Now I can get as many cream varieties as I fancy, yet fresh coconut is an exotic ingredient.

But hey, change is good. And this candy? Really good. Even Mr. Kitchen Hand liked it. So did MC Senior. Unfortunately, MC Junior seems to have developed a total aversion to anything coconut after a disastrous first taste of Cherry Ripe.

Hope your week is starting on a sweet note.

Coconut candy

(recipe re-jigged to accommodate the quantity of bought coconut. This makes the resulting candy squares “thinner” than usual. Feel free to use these measurements as a jumping off point and add more coconut)

300g fresh grated coconut (or desiccated coconut) – I’d actually squeezed the “milk” out of this batch of coconut first so it was quite dry.
250g caster sugar (or granulated is fine)
¾ cup evaporated milk
about 45 g or 3 tbsp butter (I think this was a touch too much, it gave a rich flavour but resulted in a slight oiliness. Would reduce it to about 2 tbsp next time)
dash of vanilla extract to flavour
few drops food colouring of choice

Start by greasing a square cake pan (any heatproof mould will do). As an added precaution, I lined the base of the pan with baking paper and this helped greatly in the unmoulding process.

Mix the milk and sugar together, then cook this mixture with the coconut over a medium high flame, stirring constantly. We always used a wok for this step as the large surface area is ideal, but any wide, heavy bottomed pan would do. The mixture should be simmering slightly. Make sure to stir to prevent burning. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the vanilla and the butter. Cook until the mixture thickens slightly (about 5 minutes or so cooking time).

Lower the heat and keep cooking and stirring until the mixture dries out and starts to lift from the sides of the pan (another 5 minutes or so, longer if the coconut was very wet to begin with). It should start to get really difficult to stir. Add in food colouring at this stage if desired, mix thoroughly. Tip into prepared pan (careful, it will be very hot), smooth the top with a back of a spoon and leave to cool. Once set, turn the candy out onto a chopping board and cut into bite sized pieces (use a sharp knife and brisk chopping motions).

I made a pink and white version 

This is actually a really simple candy to make but the trick is to cook it for long enough so that it dries out, otherwise it will not set hard.


Hungry Dog said...

I just like saying "coconut candy"--too cute! I actually don't love coconut...but the husband does! I should surprise him with this one day soon.

Trissa said...

Hi Shaz, can you tell me if there was any difference in taste between the dessicated and fresh coconut? Otherwise, which Indian store did you get your coconut from? Thanks!

Ellie said...

Thanks for explaining the difference between coconut ice and coconut candy. I really thought they were the same thing. Opps!!!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Yum - you had me at "coconut" and "fudge-like quality". lol. Have always had a soft spot for coconut candies - they always remind me of the treats Grandma used to give us when we were little!

Megan @ FeastingonArt said...

Fancy that, I just made a coconut dessert too! Hope you enjoyed your NYE. Did you see any fireworks?

shaz said...

Hi Ellie - they taste so similar though. I think coconut ice may be slightly sweeter.

:) Helen - your Grandma sounds very cool.

Hi Megan, must be the summertime vibe :) Only watched the fireworks on telly, didn't dare brave the crowds with rugrats in tow.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh it's so purty with the pink and white pattern! I haven't tried this I don't think but it looks fantastic :)

Barbara said...

We've always loved fresh coconut but must admit I have never cooked with it. Fudge-like? Sounds good to me!
Love this recipe and your photos are wonderful.

Grace said...

i. love. coconut. and sugar and butter. this candy sounds like something i could just sit and eat and eat and eat. i love that you made it a bit pink, too--how fun. yes ma'am, i'm liking this a lot!

Erica said...

We have a couple similar recipes in Colombia!!!! Yours sounds delicious!

Devon said...

That color combo is something else. I'd love to show up at a party and find that stuff on a table.

shaz said...

Thanks everyone :) I thought I'd answered a few more comments but the answer seems to have disappeared, how odd!

Cheers Hungry Dog - let me know how it turns out if you do try it.

Trissa- They taste pretty similar but I prefer the texture of fresh coconut. Also, I emailed you the store details, hope you got it.

Hi Lorraine - it's so girly isn't it.

Thanks so much Barbara- I really struggle with taking decent photos, thanks for being kind :)

Thought you might like this one Grace, fellow coconut fan!

Oh I'd love to find out more about the Colombian desserts Erica, will check out your blog.

Thanks Devon, this sweet doesn't take very long to disappear at a party.

The Cooking Photographer said...

I knew I missed Malaysian Monday so I can searching. Shaz this looks so good. I love coconut. I want some of that right now.

shaz said...

I'd send you some if I thought it would clear customs Laura (really I would!)

Diane aka cameldiva said...

Oh, now this brings back memories for me. I used to help my mom prepare hoards of coconut candy (favourite flavour was chocolate, either had cocoa or Milo, I can't remember now) with my mumto sell at the school fair.

shaz said...

Great to meet you Diane!