Sri Lankan Coconut Rock / Coconut Ice

(15 minutes + cooling / cutting time, makes about 30)

This is a classic treat in Sri Lanka for holiday parties, school and church fairs, birthdays, etc. The colors make it perfect for an Easter or spring table, and it’s popular with both children and adults.

The sweet seems to be more commonly referred to as coconut ice in the New Zealand / Australian Sri Lankan diaspora, and coconut rock elsewhere (though I haven’t done an exhaustive study!).

Some cooks make this with sweetened condensed milk, some with cow milk, some with dessicated coconut. My favorite version uses fresh coconut and rich coconut milk, for an end result that is both vegan and utterly delicious. }

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1 c. coconut milk
1 1/2 lbs. sugar
1 lb. freshly grated coconut (thawed from frozen is fine)

food coloring, if using

1. In a heavy medium saucepan, heat coconut milk and sugar on low, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil.

2. Add coconut and stir for another 5-7 minutes or so until the milk has mostly been reduced. (If you’re using a candy thermometer, about 250F, though this recipe doesn’t require precision).

3. If you’d like multiple colors, divide into bowls. Color as desired; usually we’d leave some white and color another batch pink or green, to create a bicolor effect, but single colors also work fine, especially if you’re going to make a few different batches.

4. Spread in a lightly oiled cookie sheet (or one layered with parchment paper), and flatten out using a lightly oiled spatula (or banana leaf, if you happen to have one on hand, and feel like going traditional). Layer additional layers immediately after, if using.

5. Allow to cool for a bit (at least 30 minutes), and then cut into squares or diamonds. If it seems sticky and hard to cut, let cool a little longer and try again; it shouldn’t be difficult.

NOTE: For natural food colorings, I’ve used and would recommend both dragonfruit powder and saffron.

NOTE: Coconut rock will keep nicely in the fridge for weeks, or may be frozen for several months if needed.

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