Wednesday, March 2, 2011

RECIPE - Cocada

Apart from coconut water and coconut milk, which are very different liquids, the main use of Brazil's bounty of coconuts is probably to make the traditional sweet called cocada - in one of its many variations. There are basic version, flavored with nothing but coconut itself, and there are versions that add all sorts of flavors - chocolate, coffee, passion fruit (maracujá), lime, orange, peanuts, cashews and many more.

Cocada is an essential item on the tray from which the women of Bahia sell their acarajé. They are invariably available, as an impulse purchase, at the cash counter at restaurants and self-service buffets. And at the beach, vendors pass by throughout the day offering home-made cocada.

At its most basic, cocada is made with nothing more than grated fresh coconut, sugar and water. Most versions, though, add some sweetened condensed milk for added richness. The recipe that follows included condensed milk, and can be used as is to make a delicious treat, or as a basis for adding additional flavoring elements to spice things up.

RECIPE - Cocada

1 lb. freshly-grated coconut, or unsweetened prepared grated coconut
2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
neutral vegetable oil for greasing cookie sheet
Generously grease a large cookie sheet with the vegetable oil, wiping away excess with paper towel. Reserve.

In a large heavy saucepan, dissolve the sugar completely in water. Once the sugar is dissolved, heat the water over medium heat, without stirring. Bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down the edges of the pan to prevent build-up of sugar crystals. Let cook until the syrup reaches the soft thread stage (225F-235F on candy thermometer).

Once syrup reaches the proper temperature, add the grated coconut and stir well with wooden or silicone spoon. Then add the condensed milk and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to pull away from the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.

Let cool briefly, and then with a tablespoon, drop spoonsful of cocada on the greased cookie sheet, mounding them slightly. Let the cocada cool and harden for an hour or so, and then using a spatula make sure they are not sticking to the cookie sheet. Let cool completely.

Can be served immediately, or stored for up to one week in a covered container. Serve at room temperature.

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