All American-spiced coconut candies


More often than not, you can find coconut candies attributed to India or another country that uses cardamom as the flavor profile in this hard candy. I think you will find my Yanked version is a refreshingly different taste and one that the kids, as well as the adults, will enjoy. (Refer to my article on Peeling Coconut found at or use grated coconut.) 2 cups peeled, fresh coconut, slivered(sliced thinly)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup dark or light corn syrup

1/2 cup root beer

3 tablespoons maple flavoring, optional OR

2 teaspoons root beer extract

1/2 teaspoon dried allspice

Spray a large, rimmed baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan(heavy or nonstick is preferred) and place over medium-high heat. Stick a candy thermometer on the side of the pan so that the tip is halfway into the liquid. Stirring occasionally until mixture begins to boil, then stop stirring completely. Let boil and cook about 8 minutes, or until the thermometer reads 290-295-degrees F(hard-crack stage). Immediately remove from heat and stir in flavoring or extract. Be careful, it vigorously steams when blending in flavorings. Quickly, but carefully, pour into prepared pan to cool and harden. Once hardened, cover loosely with plastic wrap and break into desired pieces with a rolling pin or something suitable.

By the way: Does anyone remember, on Gilligan's Island, when coconuts were seen hanging from a tree, used as an I.V. by the professor? Believe it or not, during WWII, coconut water was used as an emergency substitute for plasma in wounded soldiers. the water is sterile and although it doesn't contain as much electrolytes as blood plasma, it does have one of the highest electrolyte concentrations known in the natural world.

Chef Jim Baley -- The Yankee Chef -- is a noted food columnist, cookbook author and the foremost New England Food Historian. He is a third generation chef and historian and lives in Maine with his wife and four children. He welcomes feedback at


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