As a child I loved coconut ice; the best bit was making it with my mum. She liked baking and it was one activity we could do together. Balancing work and home life is not easy and as a child I never realised how hard it is, as my expectations were that mum would be available all the time; in reality she had to work to give me a good education and I had to settle for less time spent with her. So baking was time well spent together and the sense of achievement and enjoyment meant the day always ended on a high. I guess this is the case for most families and if you can find something as simple as making coconut ice together, then enjoy.
I originally made these for Mother’s Day, but there are plenty of other occasions and reasons to make these fabulous little morsels. I have flavoured mine with mint, but if you prefer them plain, then exchange the mint for vanilla extract instead. The key to their success is that you must make this recipe in two stages, because the coconut ice needs to rest for at least 8 hours (overnight is ideal) to set and harden, before it is cut into small bite-sized pieces the next day and dipped in tempered chocolate. I dip mine only halfway into the chocolate as I like the contrasting effect of the chocolate and white, but the choice is yours, so if you want to cover yours completely, you will just need to temper more chocolate.
Now to the subject of tempering chocolate. To be honest, I’m not very good at it as I’m usually in a hurry, then before I know it, the chocolate is getting too warm. If you have patience and want to give it a go, then follow the guidelines in the method below. Once made, keep the chocolates in a cool, dark place, and avoid storing them in the fridge or near a radiator.
Ingredients & Method
- 1 x 397g can condensed milk
- 350g desiccated coconut
- 350g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 250g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
Day one. Line a 34 x 20 x 4cm tray or baking tin with a double layer of cling film. Mix the condensed milk, coconut, icing sugar and peppermint extract together in a bowl until all the ingredients are well combined. Press the coconut mixture into the prepared tray, then smooth the top by covering your hand with a disposable glove and pressing down to even it out. The mix is thick and fairly stiff, so you’ll need to use elbow grease and some perseverance to get it smooth. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Day two. Cut the coconut ice into 3 x 1cm bite-sized pieces, then remove it from the tray and set aside.
Now temper the chocolate. Put half of the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl, then set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water underneath). A thermometer is essential for the next part, so have one to hand as you melt the chocolate until it reaches 48–50°C, stirring continuously. Once the temperature is reached, remove the bowl from the pan, and stir in the remaining chocolate, stirring continuously until the temperature of the chocolate has come down to 32°C. The chocolate is now ready to be used.
Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Dip each piece of coconut ice in the tempered chocolate (I prefer to only half-dip mine), then shake off the excess chocolate and place the dipped coconut ice on a prepared baking tray. Repeat with the remaining coconut ice and tempered chocolate. Leave to cool and set at room temperature, then store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to a week.
This recipe makes plenty, so why not bag or box them up and hand them out as delightful edible gifts?