A summery treat for readers living south of the equator, where the mercury is rising and the sun taking longer to set. Of course, a ripe coconut is key so be careful when choosing. If you can get your hands on a peeled (meaning white and entirely edible, not just de-husked and looking like a chimp's cranium) coconut, you will know its fresh by checking if its dried out or slimy. If either of these symptoms can be diagnosed, move on. If you can only find the hairy monkey's head style coconut, be sure to shake it and see it has a lot of juice inside. This will show it is properly mature, sweet and tasty.
This simple recipe delves into some kitchen science that is quite interesting, dealing with proteins and and sugars. The protein aspect is the very real possibility of curdling the milk by introducing the coconut juice too early. Curdling occurs when proteins in the milk bind to each other, coagulating and squeezing out the water. Both a catalyst and heat are required to start this process, and the specific acids in coconut juice do the trick very well. So unless you want to make coconut flavoured cheese curd, don't add the juice until after you have boiled the mixture and let it cool.
The second part of the science here is as follows. Sugar inhibits freezing due to the nature of its cellular structure, hence why if you have ever frozen a sweetened drink the sweet syrup is the first to melt as you drink it, leaving behind a bland and perforated block of ice in the shape of the can or bottle you froze it in. I mention this because the recipe is quite sweet, and if you would like to reduce the amount called for go ahead by all means, but be aware you may achieve a rock hard result. In addition, our palettes do not perceive sweetness well from a low temperature range, which is why a sorbet or ice-cream mix can taste insanely sweet at room temperature yet only mild to sweet when served frozen. So, if you do reduce the sugar, make sure it is still a little sweeter tasting than you like it. Enjoy.
Paletas de Coco
1 whole coconut, peeled and at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature*
110g raw sugar
1 inch cinnamon quill
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla
- Cut the top from the coconut and drain the juice. Place the flat side down and carefully half the nut. Grate one half and cut the other half into eight even pieces.
- Place the milk and coconut pieces into a blender jug and puree until smooth. This may take a minute or two, depending on how ripe the coconut.
- Pour the mixture into a non-reactive saucepan with the grated coconut and remaining ingredients (barring the coconut juice), then heat gently. Simmer the mixture for around 15-20 minutes or until the grated coconut is quite tender. Remove from the heat and take out the cinnamon quill.
- When cool, add the coconut juice and mix well. Pour into icy pop moulds and freeze for 6-8 hours before serving.