Coconut and summer are intertwined for me. It's mostly the smell, the scent of "Maui Babe" being lathered on my sister and cousins, and maybe the memory of those frozen coconut pops I used to devour as a kid. "Maui Babe" looks and smells like coconut oil and brown sugar. It's golden, it's heady, and it's the opposite of my summer experience. My sister would tease me that I look like I just had a face lift, cloaked in my wide brimmed hat, massive sunglasses, men's button down and spf 70. The scent represented what summer should be, the summer I'd observe, but not usually the one I would experience as a red head cloistered under the shade.
Coconut Ice is an Aussie treat I recently rediscovered. It's crazy sweet and usually tinted with a few drops of food coloring. It's the perfect hostess of a barbecue dessert because it takes 10 minutes to make and can live in the fridge until the burgers run out. But why use food coloring when you can marble coconut ice with a fresh strawberry lime syrup? Imagine a pina colada and a strawberry margarita had a baby (I believe it's called a "Lava Flow"); that is what this tastes like.
Strawberry-Lime Coconut Ice
1 cup strawberries, halved
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups unsweetened dried coconut flakes (thinly sliced)
1 14oz can condensed milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons lime zest
Combine the strawberries, lime juice, and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer until the liquid clings to the back of a spoon. Strain the liquid and cool.
In a large bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and cream of tartar over the dried coconut. Stir to combine and add the condensed milk and lime zest, stirring until mixed together thoroughly.
In a lightly greased pan (I used a pyrex 3 cup rectangular glass dish) press down a third of the coconut mixture and drizzle with strawberry syrup. Add another third, and repeat until the dish is full. Cover in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours to set. Slice up and serve. (You don't want them hanging out on a serving dish for too long, but they're fine for at least an hour out of the fridge).
The toasted coconut vanilla limeade just sounds good, right? Full disclosure: at least 50% of my recipes are based on what sounds good. Luckily, that instinct usually proves correct, and what sounds good, is good. The toasted coconut adds a rich, deep flavor to the drink that's just dynamite with the brown sugar flavor of agave nectar. With vanilla and lime, this is the perfect summer drink.
For 4 cups
1 cup lime juice (about 10 limes), fresh squeezed
1 cup sweet coconut flakes, packed
2 1/2 cups hot water
1 1/2 cups coconut water (optional, just use regular water if you prefer)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly toast the coconut on a baking sheet, thinly spread out, for about 5-7 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Juice the limes and put all of the used halves into a bowl, along with the coconut and vanilla bean (or vanilla paste), and cover with 2 cups of hot water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. The hot water pulls all of the natural oils out of the lime skins and adds so much flavor. Strain into a blender and add the coconut water, lime juice, and agave nectar. Blend until just incorporated. Pour into a pitcher and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.