Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Candied Coconut or Coconut Ice Thai Style (มะพร้าวแก้วไกลบ้าน)

When I was young about 4, my father was stationed for his work in the small seaside town east of Bangkok. For some reason, my brother and I went to school there for a year and our mother would travel from Bangkok to join us for the weekends. My father’s chauffer‘s wife had to babysit me from time to time in between our ‘nannies’. Dad would give her some money to buy me afternoon treats. She often bought me this beautiful thing that would become my favourite until now – candied coconut. It was also the first thing I learned to cook in the home-economics class in school years later. So it was quite nostalgic when I made this the other day.

1 ½ cups desiccated coconut (long threads)
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
A drop of food colouring (pink and green are traditional)

Place sugar, salt and water in a heavy bottom saucepan on medium heat, boil and reduce to thick syrup (about 4 minutes - in Thailand we would use the term "to the consistency of soft boiled egg yolk ":). Add vanilla and a drop of food colouring and stir to combine.  Add coconut and stir well until all covered in syrup, keep stirring for about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and scoop the candied coconut with 2 spoons and drop into a small pile on the baking paper, repeat with the rest of the coconut. You have to work quickly as the coconut will start to set when cool. Leave to dry completely and pack in an air tight container. Make about 10-12 medium size pieces.

Note: If you like a softer texture, you can soften the dessicated coconut with a little bit of hot water and drain well before adding to the syrup.This is also suitable for vegetarians - just omit red food colouring. In Thailand, green colouring can be derived from ใบเตย or Pandan Leaves  - not only the colour is good, but the smell is also divine. We also use freshly grated coconut for this sweetie back home.

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