Last weekend, it being Father’s Day, I made coconut ice. Father’s Day and coconut ice have belonged together for as long as I can remember. Dad doesn’t like many sweet things but he loves coconut, and so every year mum and I would make him a batch, although I’m pretty sure that for the most part my involvement was simply putting a few drops of colouring into the mixture until it reached the desired shade of pink.
Even on the occasional years we haven’t made it for dad, it’s been fondly mentioned and remembered, like the old friend that it is. But this year I decided it was a good year to make some. You don’t need much to make it. Just some regular sugar, milk, desiccated coconut and red food colouring. You also need a heavy-based saucepan and a sugar thermometer.
Which brings me to my mum, Kay, a cake-maker, jam-maker and sweet-maker extraordinaire. Don’t get me wrong, she loved to cook anything and everything, but it’s the sweet things that she was famed for, her Christmas cake the family clamoured for, her cinder toffee my school friends would look for at every summer fete. The sugar thermometer is hers, and I’d never used it by myself, and until last weekend I hadn’t used it since she died 2 years ago. It’s something I associate so strongly with her, and it was strange (perhaps not that strange) how emotional I felt in anticipation. I felt so nervous about working with the hot sugar – sugar in need of a thermometer – without her there, but once I got going I was fine – it was easy and fun. I used the same recipe we had always used, from a booklet published by Tate+Lyle sugar in the late 70’s. The result was just as good as it always had been, and like always, I wound up eating just as much as dad.
Coconut Ice, from Tate+Lyle Sweets & Things – I had a look at a few other more recent coconut ice recipes, but they all had about twice the number of ingredients which is just unnecessary. My advice is to keep it simple.
Preparation & Cooking time: 20 minutes Makes approximately 650g
500g granulated sugar
125g desiccated coconut
Grease a small loaf tin. Put the sugar and the milk together in a heavy saucepan and dissolve over a low heat. Bring to the boil and cook until 115°C/240°F.
Remove from heat and stir in coconut. Pour half the mixture into the tin. Colour the other half pink.
Pour on top (maybe wait a minute, but no more, before you do this, just to give the white layer a chance to set a bit. Otherwise there will be a bit of a wave in the layers, as I found out. Not that that’s a bad thing). Leave to set. Turn out of tin and cut into slices.