I miss primary school fêtes. I miss how the schoolyard looked and felt different when visited on the weekend in the sunshine, how the tables in the quadrangle adorned with homemade treats or “trash and treasure” seemed more alluring than any shopping mall ever could, and how much fun it was to run around wildly with friends without having to worry about a teacher yelling at us for going out of bounds.
I miss putting so much tomato sauce onto my sausage sizzle sausage that the flimsy white bread beneath grew soggy (but tangy!), and I miss buying a toffee cup for ten cents; I miss those toffee cups in muffin cases that were nothing more than caster sugar, water, and food colouring boiled together into discs then topped with sprinkles, ready to be sucked on for hours (or until accidentally dropped it in the dirt while playing tag).
There would always be at least one plate of coconut ice on the tables selling homemade goodies. A uniquely Australian treat, coconut ice is traditionally a pink and white layered confection made from coconut, copha, red food colouring, and either sweetened condensed milk or icing sugar and egg white.
Coconut ice is sweet, so sweet, and pretty, so pretty, and coconutty, so coconutty.
A few months ago, I remembered the existence of coconut ice and could suddenly think of naught but veganising it with the help of my enormous jar of coconut oil. In a vague nod towards being a Grown-Up rather than an seven-year-old girl with a sticky disc of half-licked toffee in her hand, I replaced the food colouring with cocoa powder and took the resulting gluten-free, dairy-free, definitely-not-sugar-free treat into work.
My colleagues may not have the same school fête memory associations with this vegan chocolate coconut ice as I do, but they seemed to love eating it all the same.
Vegan Chocolate Coconut Ice
Makes 16-20 squares, or more if you prefer teensy bites.
Adapted from Taste
- 250g desiccated coconut
- 500g pure icing sugar, sifted
- 200g coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Line a 20cm (8 inch) square pan with non-stick baking paper, allowing paper to overhang the sides. In a large bowl, stir together the coconut and icing sugar.
- Melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low heat, then add the vanilla extract. Immediately pour this over the coconut and sugar mixture, then stir stir stir stir stir! It may take a bit of elbow grease to get all the sugar and coconut incorporated into the coconut oil.
- Once the mixture is combined and cohesive, divide in half. Press one half smoothly and evenly into prepared pan. Add the cocoa to the remaining half, and mix well until the coconut is evenly coloured.
- Press the chocolate coconut mixture over the layer already in the pan, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.
- Remove the coconut ice from the pan, and use a sharp knife to cut into small squares. Store in the fridge. You can either serve this straight-crispy-hard-cold from the fridge, or let it soften a little at room temperature first.
- Are you done yet? Have you finished eating? Can we go play Red Light, Green Light in the schoolyard now, please?