Makes about 16 2-inch candies
Recipe from Season 5 of Mexico - One Plate at a Time
1 medium (1 1/4 pound) fresh coconut, with plenty of water inside
OR 12 ounces coarsely shredded frozen coconut meat
OR 10 ounces dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1 1/4 cups (9 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 tablespoon milk
3 large egg yolks
1. The fresh coconut. Turn on the oven to 325 degrees. Twist a corkscrew (or drive an ice pick) into 2 of the - eyes- of the coconut (the dark indentations on one end), then drain the trapped liquid into a cup (strain if it contains any bits of coconut shell). Place the coconut in a preheated 325 degrees oven for 15 minutes to help loosen the flesh from the shell. With a hammer, crack the coconut into several pieces, then use a small knife or screwdriver to pry the flesh from the shell. Use a small knife or a vegetable peeler to peel away the dark skin from the coconut flesh. In a food processor (or, with determination and stamina, using a four-sided grater) grate the coconut into medium-fine shreds. If you are using frozen or dried coconut, measure it out.
2. Cooking the coconut. Combine the sugar (if using dried coconut, use only 1/2 cup sugar), corn syrup and cinnamon stick in a medium, heavy saucepan. Add enough tap water to the coconut water to bring the volume to 1 cup, stir into the sugar mixture, bring to a boil and wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water.
Add the coconut and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over medium to medium-low heat, stirring frequently, just until all the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated (do not let it brown). Remove from the heat and pick out the cinnamon stick.
Mix together the milk and egg yolks, stir in a few spoonfuls of the hot coconut, then stir the yolk mixture into the pan. Set over medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until the yolk mixture has thickened and been absorbed, about 5 minutes. (The liquid will come to a simmer: if heated gently, it will NOT curdle, though it is boiling gently.)
Remove from the heat, spread out on a tray or baking dish and cool to room temperature.
3. Baking the coconut candies. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (or heavily grease and flour it). Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of the cooled coconut mixture, form into a 2-inch cake (about 1/2-inch thick) and lay on the baking sheet; form the remaining coconut mixture into patties in the same manner.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until thoroughly browned. Let cool on the baking sheet, then remove, freeing any that stick by sliding a knife underneath and twisting the blade to pop them free. Let stand upside down for an hour or so, for the bottoms to firm and harden, then store in an airtight container.