In my attempt to cook my way through only the greatest Christmas gift ever, my vintage Great American Recipe Card Collection from Jake’s Grandmom, I’ve decided to start off super easy because complicated cooking projects are just too hard with a newborn. It may be April before I try my hand at a “shrimp mold.”
This week’s recipe: Pink and Yellow Coconut Apples curiously categorized under the header, The Southwest. (Other recipe categories include “Sundays at Home,” “County Fairs,” “Low-Calorie Dishes,” “Cooking with Wine,” Budget Stretchers,” etc.) I’m not sure what’s Southwestern about candied coconut balls dyed pink and yellow but it’s best not to ponder the whys of this recipe collection.
This was a fairly simple recipe, one I knew I could handle with little Katie squalling at my feet. I made it Sunday morning after making June breakfast and before going for a little jog (my first since giving birth! Whoo hoo! Sweet freedom!)
In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
What’s up with cream of tartar? You don’t really see it used in recipes anymore. I’m not sure why. In this case, I think it was added to prevent the crystallization of cooked sugar.
Cook the ingredients over high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to boiling. Boil to 225 F on candy thermometer. This is the temperature at which, once cooled, the sugar mixture is malleable enough to form into soft balls.
Cut the heat and add 2 3 1/2-ounce “cans” flaked coconut. I’m pretty sure flaked coconut doesn’t come in cans anymore; it comes in bags. I used 1 7-ounce bag and stirred it up.
The mixture looked nice and pasty, which I guess is how it’s supposed to look.
Then, you’re supposed to divide the mixture among two small bowls and, using food coloring (another ingredient that’s gone the way of cream of tartar), tint one portion pink…
…and the other yellow. It’s here that I started thinking this recipe should have been categorized under “Children’s Favorites,” but no, it’s “Southwest.” Okay, whatever. Cool at room temperature for about 2 hours.
While it cooled, I went for my little sweet jog of freedom (it was more like a jog/walk; I haven’t run in over nine months.) When I came back, the day got away from me. June had a playdate, Katie needed to be fed, I had errands to run, blah, blah, blah, so I covered both bowls with plastic wrap and stuck them in the refrigerator, thinking I’d form the coconut balls later.
Well, that turned out to be a mistake. Because when I finally had time to form the balls, the candied coconut had hardened to something akin to flaky cement. The balls really needed to be formed at room temperature like the recipe card said. Dang it. Another recipe foiled.
But I wasn’t going to give up. No. Not me. Instead, I scraped shards of the hardened coconut paste and assembled them in a bowl to give the appearance of balls. Then, I delicately rested one raisin on each. Note I did not write “imbed.” I wrote “rested.” Meaning, if you shook the bowl, all the raisins would tumble to the bottom.
As for the taste, well, it tasted like a really, really sweet shard of coconut flake. There was so much sugar in this recipe that the texture was actually gritty, almost sandy. As in, I could feel the grains of sugar getting stuck in my teeth, actively rotting them as I chewed. Other than that, the taste was great. If you’re 5. I finished it off by swallowing one of the raisins languishing in the bottom of the bowl.
I had intended to bring my Pink and Yellow Coconut Apples to a superbowl party but given that the shards crumbled to sugar dust when you tried to pick them up, I decided to save face and leave them home. Which turned out to be a good thing because everyone at the party was incredibly healthy. It was the healthiest Super Bowl party I’d ever been to! No coagulating troughs of cheese and beans. No vats of sour cream and salad dressing powder. Instead, we nibbled on delicately roasted cauliflower crudite, gluten-free chocolate cake, kale and brussel sprout salad. My coconut balls would have been the chain smoking, super tanned, cursing cousin you can’t help but gawk at but don’t really want to talk to.
Will I make this again? Maybe. For June’s 4th birthday. I think it would be a hit among the under 8 crowd and people with comprised dentistry.
(See my attempt at making Ham and Bananas Hollandaise here.)