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.
(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.