Thursday, February 3, 2011

Coconut Ice: a lesson learned

While I was in England, I bought some candy.

Yes, I know 'you're on a diet, why would you buy a bag of candy?'  Because it was full of coconut, colorful, and tasted delicious.  And when I came home from England, and as I ate the last piece of candy with Boyfriend Bird, I thought to myself, 'you know, this tastes just like sugar and coconut.  I wonder how hard it would be to make.'

Well, worse things have happened after asking that question, I suppose.

I hit up Google.  And went with the first recipe I found.  I'm not sure if it was the recipe, or if it was the lack of candy thermometer, but it.... did not exactly turn out well. First off, I don't think the water ever really finished 'gently melting' the sugar, and I ended up eventually saying 'well, I think it's good...'

The reason I keep mentioning the candy thermometer is that, obviously, I was lacking one. I did have Mama Bird's meat thermometer, and after looking for a while I shrugged and said that it'd do. Which it would have. If it didn't automatically switch off when it hit 200 degrees, maybe it would have been helpful. But so without a way to tell when the sugar water had hit the temperature I wanted, and a really lacking understanding of what 'when a soft ball forms' meant, I just decided at some point that it was good enough.

The mixture looked great once I had combined it all with the coconut, so I stopped worrying. It smelled great, and the little bits I stole and stuck in my mouth were delicious, and worth the minor burns I'm confident they gave me. I was a little unhappy that I didn't think to melt the vanilla in the liquid, and it ended up giving the coconut a slightly off-white color.

Then I poured it into the pan it was supposed to be firming in, and noticed a problem.

That little bottle of green food coloring is there because we didn't have red. I was just going to proclaim the coconut was wintergreen flavored and see if I could fool people, and I was chuckling to myself as I finished patting down the first layer of coconut. And when I looked back in my bowl, I realized it was the only layer of coconut. Either I made way too little, or this recipe wanted a much smaller pan, because I certainly did not have two layers.

So the experiment did not go well. It still tastes quite good, although sweeter than the original candy. It really does taste just like only coconut and sugar. I think I may try it again some time, but only after I obtain a real candy thermometer... and a different recipe. Every other one I've since looked at uses condensed milk. So at least I learned that I should look at more than one recipe before just blindly following it.

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