Sunday, February 6, 2011

Coconut ice

A couple of jobs back, I had the most most amazing experience of working with a group of 25 or so people who all did different back office functions, but who for the most part got on exceptionally well together. Once a quarter, we'd go on a big social outing which, for most of my time there, was paid for by the company. We'd always do something fun but low stress, like lawn bowls, a river cruise, visiting a brewery or ten pin bowling and karaoke. We also often went to lunch at a nearby pub or cafe, a favourite being The Prince Albert or "PAs" as it was fondly known, with the grumpy old man behind the bar. When PAs closed for renovations, we tried venues further afield, including The Swan (a kind of sports pub) and The Richmond Hotel (which was seriously damaged by fire a week after we dined in its 1970s chic surroundings).

During that time, we worked with a wonderful lady called Racquel, who was our boss's personal assistant (also coincidentally known as a "PA", but not to be confused with The Prince Albert). More than anyone, Racquel was responsible for bringing our motley crew together and instilling a sense of fun. She is a fabulous lady, and I am so grateful for the two and a half years that I was in that job and had the pleasure of working with Racquel and the other people in our team.

Racquel turned 40 years young this year, and celebrated her birthday with a belated party on Saturday night. I was delighted to attend, and had a marvellous night catching up with a host of familiar faces and sharing in Racquel's celebration with her family and friends.

To zhoozh up the present I gave Racquel, I packed it with a variety of homemade sweets. Out of the four types of sweets that I made, only one (the Turkish Delight) failed. The rest turned out really well ( much to my relief).

One of the sweets that I made Racquel was coconut ice. For the uninitiated, coconut ice is a firm to hard pink and white sweet based on dessicated coconut, and is tooth-achingly sweet. I have three little books dedicated to sweet making, and each of them contains a different recipe for coconut ice (and indeed all of the sweets that I made). I chose a coconut ice recipe from Hope and Greenwood's Life is Sweet for which I had all the ingredients in the house, as I was running short of time and could not go out to buy anything. The coconut ice that I am familiar with uses Copha (vegetable shortening), but the Hope and Greenwood version is based on condensed milk. It therefore tastes significantly different to the version of coconut ice that I am used to, and has a chewy, soft texture rather than shattering into firm, melt-in-your-mouth shards like the Copha version, but is still delicious and distinctly coconut flavoured.

To make your own coconut ice, you will need:

500g icing (confectioners) sugar
2 x 400g tins of condensed milk
400g dessicated coconut
Pink or red food colouring

Line an 8 inch square cake tin with cling film.

Place the sifted icing sugar and condensed milk into a large bowl, and stir until well combined. Use your hands if the mixture becomes too stiff to stir. Add the coconut in 2-3 equal portions, combining one portion before adding the next. The mixture will become very stiff, and using your hands to knead in the coconut will be helpful at this stage.

Divide the mixture into two equal portions and colour one half pink. Put one half into your lined cake tin, and press down firmly and evenly. Place the second half of the mixture on top of the first in small pieces so that you can easily spread it out to cover the bottom layer without mixing the two. I found the back of a spoon useful to help me to spread out the second layer, as the mixture stuck to my hands. Place the coconut ice into the fridge to set overnight.

Once the coconut ice is set, cut it into squares (~20 pieces).

Enjoy - just don't tell your dentist!

I am sending this post to Lisa of Sweet As Sugar Cookies for Sweets for a Saturday #3.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I don't think I've ever had this treat. I'm looking forward to making it!

Johanna GGG said...

I prefer a soft coconut ice than the hard shards and have made this condensed milk one - so yummy - and great for someone with a sense of fun! sounds like a great workplace

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It's been a while since I had coconut ice but I loved its sweetness and nostalgia inducing ability! :D

Kayte said...

I had forgotten all about this until I saw your photo and read your post. My grandmother used to make something like this but she used pink (strawberry), white (vanilla), brown (chocolate)to make it look like Neapolitan ice cream. It was tooth-achingly sweet, you are right! I had forgotten all about it. Yours is very very pretty. Maybe I should make some for Easter, a time everyone associates with coconut around here. I'm going to make them your colors!

Anonymous said...

This looks so pretty. We have a packaged candy in the US that might be similar to this - it has layers and coconut and it's sweet and chewy.

Gloria said...

I love this Cake in Law look amazing!!!!! gloria

Elaine said...

These look delightful! I love the pink layer and I really enjoyed your story of working with Racquel and the others and the outings you went on. Sounds like that was a really fun working experience.

Mary said...

This sounds as delicious as the good times you had with your former mates. I've never had coconut ice but am willing to give it a try. I'm new to your blog and spent some time this morning poking through your earlier entries. I really like the food and recipes you feature here and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

Lisa said...

What a pretty little treat. This would be great for coconut lovers. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog called "Sweets for a Saturday" (it will be open until Monday) and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your sweet up.

Flourchild said...

Looks good to me..Love the colors!!

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

I really like coconut ice. It has such a unique texture.

egbkid said...

I wanted to let you know I am sending you a Stylish Blogger Award. I love your blog, everything you post looks so delicious!! Take a peek at my blog, you can pick up your award if you want it!

Flourchild said...

Please check my blog out.I have a surprise for you!!!

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

Looking at this took me straight back to my childhood, so I think it's a perfect birthday treat :)

I am uneasy about using copha, so I'm very happy that you've shown us this recipe! Woohoo, coconut ice for me!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Mary, Thank you for visiting my blog, and glad you enjoyed it.

Hi Lisa, sound slike fun - will do.

Thanks so much egbkid.

Hi Michelle, will do.

The Caked Crusader said...

Coconut ice is a thing of beauty and yours looks so fluffy and naughty. Yum!

From the Kitchen said...

I just "met" you over at Mary's blog and, in keeping with meeting a few new people a day, came over to say hello. What a treat I've found! I look forward to delicious exploration!!


Plummy Mummy said...

I've just made some of this and it is very very squishy. How did you transport it to the recipient? I'm selling mine at a bake sale and need ideas!
P.S. Love love the blog

Cakelaw said...

Thanks! My tips are: refrigerate it for a couple of hours to help it firm up. If you still find it a bit too squishy, you can slip little pieces of cardboard inside your sandwich bags to support it. Good luck with the bake sale!