After our healthy spin on the famous peanut drops, we thought of sharing another tasty Caribbean recipe with you: Jamaican coconut drops! What's this, you ask? It's a chewy coconut candy coated in crunchy caramel and seasoned with fragrant Jamaican spices. Simply irresistible!
The most important thing in this recipe is getting the coconut bits to stick together and keep the candy from crumbling. We spent a full day testing and optimising this recipe. Our goal? To make 100% error-proof and also a bit healthier.
Here's what we have done:
We cut the coconut into long strips instead of the cubes you see in the classic recipe. Using strips is smart because you get a much larger contact surface between the coconut bits. The coconut strips get entangled and form a sturdy "lattice", similar to hash browns.
We quickly dehydrated the coconut strips to keep the candy from sogging later on.
We tested various ingredients and cooking techniques to minimise both cooking time and the amount of sugar needed. We ended up using maple syrup for minimum effort, but we'll show you how to make the syrup yourself with sugar and water if you prefer.
We think you'd be quite proud of the effort! Our Jamaican coconut and ginger candies have fewer sugars than the traditional ones and take less than half the time to prepare. They are also very firm and will keep crunchy for days.
Interestingly, we could actually cut sugars by 100% by preparing the syrup with erythritol (a safe zero-sugar sweetener) instead of sugar. Still, we stuck with the more traditional ingredients to keep the recipe simple and accessible. But do feel free to try out this variation for an even healthier treat! We'll leave some instructions in the tips section.
|Fresh Coconut Meat||120 g|
|Maple Syrup||60 mL|
|Ground Nutmeg||1 pinch|
|Ground Ginger||1/2 tsp|
Remove the brown skin from the coconut using a vegetable peeler or a knife.
Then, thinly shred the coconut meat and place it onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake the coconut shreds for 10 minutes at 150°C (300°F) in static mode.
Ensure they feel dry to the touch, and if they don't, put them back in the oven and cook them for a bit longer.
Now, grab a large pot, add in the maple syrup, nutmeg, ginger, and coconut.
Mix thoroughly until the shreds are well coated with the syrup.
Then, flatten them down onto the bottom of the pan so that you have a thin coconut layer; this helps the maple syrup caramelise more quickly and more evenly.
Turn on the heat, bring the syrup to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ensure all the water has evaporated and the bottom of the pan is dry.
The candied coconut is now very sticky and will get harder and harder as it cools down, so you'll have to be very fast at shaping the drops.
To make one "drop", quickly take a spoonful of coconut and place it onto a sheet of baking paper. Then, compact it a little bit with the help of a spoon or a fork.
Repeat until you have used all the caramelised coconut.
Then, let the coconut drops cool down completely and harden before peeling them off the paper.
You can use freshly grated ginger instead of the dried one and replace nutmeg with cinnamon if you like.
You can replace maple syrup with a solution made with water and coconut/brown sugar or water and erythritol. To do so, add 40g (1.4 oz) of sugar/erythritol to 20ml (0.7 fl oz) of water in a pot and heat the mixture until the granules are completely dissolved. Then, use this syrup instead of maple syrup and follow the recipe as above.
Store the coconut drops in an airtight container in the fridge.