Homemade Coconut Candies: This is No April Fool's Joke!
Every year at Easter, my mom made chocolate covered coconut Easter eggs. We loved these eggs and looked forward to eating them every year. Fresh coconut was grated and mixed with powdered sugar and shaped into eggs that were then dipped in melted chocolate. BUT, I did not look forward to the process of making these eggs because getting the fresh coconut out of the shell and cleaned was (and still is) a pain in the neck. I have made these coconut eggs a couple of times but each time I swore would be my last because of the effort involved in working the fresh coconut. If only there was an easier way to make a chocolate coated coconut candy.
Two years ago, I came across a recipe for a coconut almond candy on King Arthur Flour's website. These coconut candies are SO easy to make. And the coconut center is gooey chewy just like one of my all time favorite candy bars - the Mounds bar. Would like to give candy making a try? If you love coconut, these sweet treats are the perfect first recipe to try.
You will need a couple of special ingredients for this recipe. First, you need unsweetened shredded coconut. This coconut is dried and has nice small pieces. Don't worry about this because the coconut will rehydrate from the melted butter and boiling water used to make the candy centers. Last week, I told you about finding this dried coconut on Nuts.com. The price is great and shipping is super fast.
You also need coconut milk powder. You can find this on King Arthur Flour's web site as well as on Amazon. I haven't tried any of the brands offered by Amazon so I can't speak to their flavor. I buy my coconut milk powder from King Arthur Flour and like it very much. The only other ingredients you will need are unsalted butter, table salt, granulated sugar and water. KAF's recipe also calls for placing almonds on top of each candy but I leave those out.
In a medium bowl, beat together 1/3 cup boiling water, 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup coconut milk powder. You want this mixture to be smooth and thick. Add in 2-1/2 cups of the unsweetened shredded coconut and stir to combine thoroughly. This mixture will be thick and gooey.
Scoop a tablespoonful of the filling and place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining coconut filling. You should get about 28 candies. Put the candies in the freezer to set up for easy dipping in melted chocolate. This should take about 60 minutes.
While the candy is setting up, get your chocolate ready. You will need about a pound of bittersweet chocolate.
A word about melting chocolate. When you bite into a piece of fine chocolate, have you ever noticed how the chocolate shell is shiny? And how it snaps when you bite into it? This effect is achieved because the chocolate is tempered. What does this mean?
When you temper chocolate, you are melting then cooling the chocolate within specified temperature parameters so as to allow cocoa butter in the chocolate to properly crystallize. There are many, many articles and demonstrations online which instruct you on how to properly temper chocolate to get the pleasing snap and shiny appearance that you want on a chocolate coated candy. I have tempered chocolate using those methods with some success but I disliked the process because of the constant temperature checking and stirring. Heat, stir, then cool then heat again. Is there an easier way, I wondered? The answer is yes!
In December, I found a video produced by Callebaut, a fine Belgian chocolate company which has been in business since 1911, which describes how to melt chocolate using a microwave which will result in beautiful, smooth properly tempered chocolate. I have used this process several times now and the chocolate shells on my candies are PERFECT! Really! The trick is using a non-glass bowl, heating with short bursts in the microwave (like 10-15 seconds at a time) and stirring the chocolate in between bursts. If it is good enough for the pastry chefs at Callebaut, it is good enough for me!
So, after your coconut candies have set up so that you can easily handle them, remove them from the freezer and dip them in your melted tempered chocolate. These candies are simple and oh so delicious. Make a batch for your coconut loving family or BFF or ... for yourself! You deserve it!