Minorcan Christmas Candy
I have made this coconut candy every Christmas for the past two decades (or longer). It is the one special treat that all my friends and family ask for. I have never met anyone who did not like it, even if they thought they didn't like coconut. There is some kind of magic that happens during the cooking. The flavor is sweet, but not overly so; buttery, although there isn't any butter in it; and the flavor of the coconut is just divine. It isn't hard to make, just a little time consuming.
3 to 3 1/2 cups shredded, fresh coconut (about one and one half pound of nutmeat)
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup fresh milk
3 tablespoons white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract *optional
Combine the coconut, sugar, and milk in a large, bright, heavy bottomed saute pan or Dutch Oven. Do not use a dark pan, which makes it difficult to see the colour of the candy as it cooks. I use a stainless steel Dutch oven myself.
As you can see, I sort of bypass the whole grate your own coconut thing and purchase it in the frozen fruit section of my local grocer (this was purchased at the Jinlong Oriental Market, but you can find it at your local mega-mart, too). Frozen works just as well as fresh for this confection. But make sure you do not try it with the sweetened flaked coconut that you use for making cakes.
Anyway... stir over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, then stir in the corn syrup. See? You push the coconut away from a spot on the bottom of the pan and look for sugar granules. If you don't see any, then its time to add the corn syrup.
Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook 2 minutes to dissolve any crystals that may have formed on the side of the pan. Uncover and stir constantly until the candy is thick, 20 to 30 minutes. Do not cease stirring for a moment. Keep the mixture moving around in the pan.
If it begins to turn the least bit ivory colored, stir in 1 tablespoon cold water and continue cooking very slowly. If it turns golden it will still be good. It just isn't right. The candy is ready when a teaspoonful dropped onto a waxed paper-lined tray stands with no syrup running from the edges. At this point you can add the vanilla, if using. I prefer not. It isn't really "traditional"
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper-lined trays. If the candy should become too hard to drop, stir in a tablespoon cold water and stir over medium heat until liquid enough for dropping. Cool the candy. Store in cake tins in layers separated by waxed paper sheets.
This candy improves with age up to 2 or 3 weeks and remains in excellent condition for several weeks.
Okay... the recipe instructions say this candy will remain in excellent condition for up to 3 weeks. I don't know, I've never had any last around here that long. I generally end up making 2 or 3 batches of this stuff because my guys usually eat it up so fast I can't get it into the gift bags quick enough. That's okay, at least I know it's good when they do that.
By the way... if this stuff doesn't firm up after you drop it out you can chill it and cover it in chocolate (that almond bark stuff if you want) and voila Almond Joy! Also... I have added things like grated lime or orange peel to this. A very nice option is to make chocolate cups and fill them with the coconut and decorate with almond slivers and drizzled chocolate or any other little thing that strikes your fancy; candied ginger, maraschino cherries (well drained), preserved pineapple... but everyone's favorite way to have it is straight up coconut only. That's my favorite way, too.
A Little About the Minorcans in Florida
The candy got firm... but not firm enough to package well. So... I dipped the bottoms in chocolate and dang!!! This stuff is terrific! I used a mix of semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips for the coating.
Better than any store bought Almond Joy or Mounds. I just love this stuff.