Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Nana!

My grandmother's birthday is today, a mere two days post-Christmas.  She's never really liked having it so close as people tend to lump the two holidays together (really shabby of them, honestly).  But this year, having her birthday so soon is letting me fix a major Christmas gifting oversight.

You see, my grandmother loves coconut.  And because we all know this, she got coconut scented soaps and lotions and even lip balms for Christmas.  Which is why it broke my heart a little when she said "but, I can't eat any of it".  This is a very fair point.  Determined to fix this injustice in time for her birthday, I headed to Whole Foods to pick up some type of coconut treat.  They had chocolate with hazelnuts, coffee beans, pink peppercorns, ginger, but not a single chocolate+coconut=happiness treat.

So I took matters into my own hands and made her some special coconut birthday treats.  They were super easy and taste delicious, although the chocolate does overpower the coconut a bit.

adapted only slightly from Not Enough Cinnamon.  My deepest thanks to her for the recipe.

1 C unsweetened shredded coconut (I used the dried coconut flakes from Whole Foods) 
  +  extra coconut for toasting
5 oz Ghiradelli 60% Chocolate (Bittersweet) bars
5 T sweetened condensed milk

Mix the cup of coconut together with the condensed milk.  Prepare a cookie sheet by laying down a sheet of parchment.  Roll small balls of the coconut mixture and place on the cookie sheet.  Not Enough  Cinnamon strongly recommends rinsing your hands every few balls or so and it does a lot to prevent sticking.  Pop the tray into the freezer for about 20 minutes.  I only left them for 15 but you know I'm lazy.  

Toast a few tablespoons of coconut.  I used my toaster oven for 2-3 minutes on toast.  Set aside.

Using a double boiler, or a metal bowl over a pot, heat all but about an ounce of the chocolate.  I chop the chocolate before putting it in the bowl, but your reserved piece should be in just one or two chunks. Heat the chocolate to 105 F, stirring to melt.  Remove it from the heat and keep stirring.  As the chocolate temperature lowers, add the reserved pieces and keep stirring until the temperature drops to 88 F.  Grab the balls from the freezer and using two forks, dip them in chocolate, coating completely and then replace on the tray and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.  Cool in fridge and store in an airtight container (not in fridge) for about 5 days).

Some words of warning/tips - your chocolate will cool FAST once it hits 88 F.  You'll need to speed.  It's hard to sprinkle the coconut before the chocolate has hardened, but also have enough time to toss all the balls in the chocolate before it's too sticky.  Also, if you have any gaps that didn't get fully coated by the chocolate the evaporated milk will leak out these holes making it sticky and less pretty.  

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