Sunday, February 19, 2012

Coconut Swirls

Coconut is a popular symbol and flavor of Mardi Gras.  But sometimes a whole coconut cake is just too much sweetness… and a lot of work!  Coconut Swirls are like little bursts of coconut and chocolate and are a perfect Carnival dessert for all ages.  You just need a few ingredients and about an hour to “bake”.  This classic recipe was developed by Cheryl Newton in Florence, Alabama and shared with Southern Living readers many years ago.  It reads as follows:

1/3 cup butter or margarine
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
½ cup instant nonfat dry milk powder
3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat, and stir in water and vanilla.

Combine powdered sugar and milk powder; stir ½ cup at a time into butter mixture until smooth.  Stir in coconut.  Shape into 1” balls, and place on ungreased baking sheets.  Chill 20 minutes.

Place chocolate morsels in a small heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag and seal.  Submerge in hot water until chocolate melts.  Snip a tiny hole in one corner of bag, and drizzle chocolate over coconut balls.  Store in refrigerator.

Yield: 3½ dozen

If you bake regularly, you probably have all these ingredients on hand, except the dry milk powder.  A couple hints:

Definitely sift your confectioner’s sugar.  You can even do it twice, so that there are no lumps when you add it to the melted butter.
The ultimate “batter” will be very sticky.  So keep a wet cloth or paper towel handy when you are rolling the balls.  Keep the balls small.  I always have difficulty making them consistent in size.  And don’t worry about crowding them on the cookie sheet.  They aren’t going to spread, and it just makes them easier to drizzle with chocolate.

I use miniature chocolate morsels.  They melt faster.  I’ve never had luck with the zip-lock baggie trick.  So I usually just make a pseudo-double boiler… this time, I set a metal bowl inside a pitcher of boiling water.  The chocolate melts in a minute.

And then I use a fork to kind of ribbon the chocolate over the balls.  It doesn’t have to be exact.  After all, it’s Mardi Gras!  But work as quickly as possible.  The chocolate will harden.
Yes, Coconut Swirls do taste very much like a Mounds candy bar with more emphasis on coconut.  Delicious and rather decadent.  Share with your friends and laissez les bon temps rouler!

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