Coconut ice with its pink and white layers is the sort of kiddie sweet treats that regularly appeared at the hospital fete and school fundraisers when I was young. It couldn’t be anything other than toothachingly sweet but I did like it best when slightly soft rather than brittle.
Last month I visited my family on the weekend of my nieces’ birthday. As Grace is celiac and her sister Ella loves to eat Grace’s gluten free goodies, I sought a simple GF treat to take down. Browsing through my sweet recipe notebook I found a coconut ice recipe which just seemed a matter of mixing together condensed milk, coconut and icing sugar. What could be simpler?
When I made it, I found that the list of ingredients was straightforward but the muscle-power required to mix them was huge. The recipe I had was a tin of condensed milk, 750g icing sugar (confectionary sugar) and 250g coconut. Pressing the white layer into the tin was so difficult, I was tempted to get Zinc to sleep on it a while. Mixing the pink food dye through the second half was so hard with a spoon I gave up and used my fingers to rub it in (a bit like you rub butter into flour). The layers were so dry that many pieces did not hold together.
I wasn’t happy with this heap of crumbly sweet slice (see photo top right), but nevertheless took it to Geelong where I knew there would be some willing testers. My GF niece loved it but I hadn’t realised it had been one of my mum’s favourite sweets. Everyone said it was great. But by then I had started to search the internet for variations and had found one with half the icing sugar that I wanted to try.
So last weekend I made some on Saturday for our pre-Christmas / Summer Solstice dinner (photo at left) and to take to my family when I went down to help decorate my parents’ Christmas tree. It still took a lot of elbow grease to stir it but the mixture spread like a paste and I could stir in the pink food dye.
It was still quite a chore to cut it up and I took my family as much as I had the energy to cut up before we left (about two thirds of the tray). When we went to clear out the biscuit tin to take it home, I was surprise at just how much had disappeared. E had been a bit worried about taking it in one of his biscuit tins but was very pleased when we brought home a tin full of baked goods: mince tarts, almond biscuits, brandy snaps. In fact I think he might try taking the tin down to my parents’ place more often.
After my experiments I am recommending the second coconut ice recipe which is far more forgiving on the teeth and your stirring arm. It makes a great gift, makes a cheerful addition to a sweet platter and will bring a smile to those with fond childhood memories but beware of taking it into backyards with gargoyles as I hear they are quite partial to a piece of coconut ice!
Now, given Christmas Eve is flying by, I am off to bake my Christmas nut roast, wrap some presents and enjoy a mince tart. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
(from Scottish Recipes)
400g tin of condensed milk
340g icing sugar (or confectionary sugar)
340g desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pink food dye
Stir together the condensed milk, icing sugar, coconut and vanilla essence in a large bowl till well combined. This will take quite some stirring as the mixture gets quite stiff.
Line a swiss roll tin (about 28 x 18cm) with baking paper. Spread about half the mixture into the tin and use the back of a spoon or your hands to smooth it down (I found this easier with my hands). Update: I have remade it twice in 2012 and found it hard to spread into a swiss roll tin and I have even struggled to get it all into a slice tin which is smaller.
Add drops of pink food dye to the remaining half of the mixture and stir in. Again it is tough stirring the stiff mixture. I found I needed about 8-10 drops or ½ - 1 tsp of food dye – more than my inclination but you want a nice pink colour to contrast with the white layer. Spoon over the white layer and spread out and smooth down as before.
Place tray in the fridge to set – overnight is best but you can get away with a few hours. Cut into small squares or bars as desired. I find it very sweet and cut into small squares of about 2cm x 2cm. It will keep in or out of the fridge for at least a week. (Update: Best to keep it in the fridge, especially in hot weather, but good to bring to room temperature to serve.)
Update Sept 2016 - note to self - when running out of icing sugar and have less than specified in recipe, do not just add the same amount of coconut instead of icing sugar as it will make it too dry!
On the stereo:
The Original Christmas Album: 20 Party Christmas Crackers: Various Artists
- About Me
- About this Blog
- Recipe Index
- Reflections and Reviews
- Kitchen Notes