Like many sweets that are still popular today, coconut ice became a well-loved treat in Britain after confectionary and sugar rationing ended in 1953. This 1950s recipe was one of the many published as the new sweet-toothed revolution took hold, much to the delight of children across the land.
As Nanny HD (Bessie's daughter) will tell you, during the '40s and early '50s most children would have to settle for rare treats such as 'Buppy Sugar' - buttered bread with a thin layer of sugar sprinkled on top. Nanny HD was 13 years old when confectionary and sugar rationing ended and remembers how brilliant it was when ready-made sweets and decorative and exotic ingredients such as food colouring and dessicated coconut suddenly became available for the first time that she had seen!
Try this one out and imagine that you are a child of the Blitz who is sampling coconut ice for the very first time.
Original Recipe: 'Coconut Ice' (Book 7, 1958)
Speed: 30 mins. | Yield: About 1 lb.
454g sugar, preferrably loaf sugar (caster sugar will work just as well)
141g desiccated coconut
¼ pint milk
Food colouring (we used pink)
1. Dissolve the sugar into the milk in a pan and boil this for about 10 minutes or until it reaches a temperature of 115°C - 118°C / 240°F - 245°F is reached.
2. Remove the pan from the het and stir in the coconut. The mixture should be very stiff. Use your hands to bring the mixture together if needed, as you would with a stiff pastry/dough mixture.
3. Divide the mixture into two equal halves and pour/pat half into an oiled tin, levelling this as well as possible. We made both of our layers half an inch thick.
4. Tint the other half with a little food colouring, kneading this into the coconut mixture well to combine.
5. Pat the coloured mixture quickly onto the other half, evening this layer out as well as possible.
6. Mark into bars when half set and break up into 1 inch cubes when cold.
Note: We found it difficult and time consuming to achieve an even consistency in the colouring after adding the food colouring at this stage. To avoid this, divide all ingredients in half from the very beginning. Tint half of the milk pink with the colouring and add to half of the sugar, then add the coconut. Prepare the white half in the same way but without using the colouring.
You can also use an alternative colouring rather than pink. Coconut sweets dyed a pale green were also popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Any pastel colour would look picture perfect; even a combination of two.
Original Recipe for ‘Coconut Ice'
'BOOK 7': Good Housekeeping’s Cookery Compendium (1959)
Authors: The Good Housekeeping Institute
Publisher: The National Magazine Co. Ltd. And printed by Letterpress by Sun Printers Ltd. (Watford, England, U.K.)