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Made with fresh coconuts, sugar, and a hint of salt, Nigerian coconut candy is a traditional snack that generations of Nigerians have enjoyed.
This crunchy snack is a healthy alternative to sugary snacks and a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Knock knock to the Nigerian 80s kids! They will all agree that coconuts were one of the biggest deals in those days.
Then, they had the coconut toffee, coconut gurundi, yale coconut biscuit, and these coconut candy snacks.
Besides kuli kuli (groundnut cake), coconut candy is what the 80s kids used to enjoy with their garri and cold water.
Nowadays, these delicious coconut candies serve as toppings for ice cream and yogurt.
What Is Coconut Candy?
There are many snacks referred to as coconut candy, but Nigerian coconut candy is a crunchy or chewy dessert or snack that is made from grated coconut meat. This tasty snack is popular in West African countries like Nigeria and Ghana.
This coconut candy is very easy to prepare if you do not mind the process of grating the coconut flesh. This snack can be made in two ways:
- The baked version of coconut candy – is mainly crunchy
- The pan-cooked version of coconut candy – can be crunchy or chewy
This particular recipe is the pan-cooked crunchy coconut candy.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Quick And Easy – The only thing that seems like hard work in this recipe is grating the coconut meat. After that, add the other two ingredients, fry the sweet shreds and serve your hot coconut candy!
- Economical – The three ingredients used in making this Nigerian coconut candy are affordable and easy to get.
- Easily Personalized – You can easily tweak this recipe to suit your taste. Find more interesting ways to do this in the ingredients substitutions and additions section below.
What Does Nigerian Coconut Candy Taste Like?
Nigerian coconut candy has a sweet taste. Coconut, the main ingredient, has a fruity, creamy, and mildly sweet flavor profile.
The two other ingredients, sugar and salt, balance the sweet coconut flavor. Any other added ingredients will add its unique flavor profile to the taste of coconut candy.
However, if the sugar gets burnt on the heat before the shredded coconut flakes are added, then, you get bitter coconut candy. Nobody wants that!
Differences Between Coconut Candy and Groundnut Candy (Sisi Pelebe)
There are two differences between Nigerian coconut candy and groundnut candy, aka sisi pelebe.
On ingredients, while Nigerian coconut candies are made with coconut shreds, Nigerian groundnut candies are made with groundnut shreds.
On versatility, while Nigerian coconut candy can be enjoyed flaked or caked, Nigerian coconut candy can only be enjoyed caked.
Differences Between Coconut Candy and Coconut Gurundi
There are three main differences between Nigerian coconut candy and Nigerian coconut gurundi.
While Nigerian coconut candies are made of grated coconut, sugar, and salt, Nigerian coconut gurundi consists of finely grated coconut, starch (cassava, potato, corn), sugar, and nutmeg.
While coconut candy can be enjoyed flaked or baked, coconut gurundi can only be enjoyed caked because it is basically coconut chips.
Method of preparation
While Nigerian coconut candy can be pan-cooked or baked, Nigerian coconut gurundi is mixed with the other ingredients and water to form a dough that is baked in the oven(like baked cookies)
Is Coconut Candy Healthy?
Nigerian coconut candy does not really stand firmly on the list of healthy foods because of the added sugar. However, it is important to know that coconut does have some benefits it offers to the body.
This candy is not for you if you are watching your weight, trying to lose weight, or generally avoiding sugary foods. If you are not, you can pleasurably have this coconut treat with no guilt.
What Are The Benefits Of Nigerian Coconut Candy?
The coconut meat in the Nigerian coconut candy recipe is low in carbohydrates and rich in healthy fat, protein, fiber, vitamin Bs, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
These nutrients help to:
- Produce antibacterial and antimicrobial properties in the body. This will counteract some bacteria and microbes that cause infection and diseases.
- Prevent cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, etc.
- Improve digestion and gut health.
- Improve brain functions and prevent neurological disorders.
Coconut Candy Ingredients
- Large Coconut – The main ingredient, fresh coconut meat, is removed after the coconut is cracked in two halves. Large old coconut means brown coconuts, that is, coconuts with brown epicarp different from the green epicarp of baby coconuts.
- Granulated Sugar – Add the white sugar for a sweeter taste of coconut candy.
- Salt – Add salt to compliment the sweet taste of the coconut mixture.
Tools Needed To Prepare Nigerian Coconut Candy
- Grater to grate the coconut pieces
- Medium Bowl to contain the coconut shreddings
- Large Frying Pan
- Heavy knife
- Coconut Bark to serve your coconut candy
Ingredient Additions & Substitutions For Coconut Candy
You can substitute this whole coconut with coconut flakes. With this, you do not need to go through the process of cracking the coconut, removing the pieces, and grating it.
This makes the process of making this sweet snack easier.
You can substitute granulated white sugar with brown cinnamon sugar. This cinnamon sugar gives your sweet snack a woodsy cinnamon flavor.
You can also substitute the sugar with honey. Mix the honey with coconut shreds to form a slightly brown coconut mixture. Then, fry it on medium heat.
The honey plus coconut mixture will give you a slightly chewy coconut candy than the sugar plus coconut mix.
Sweet caramel will be formed with granulated sugar. With it, you will get a chewy type of coconut candy.
The process for this is;
- Grate the coconut
- Place the large pan on medium heat
- Pour sugar and water into the pan and wait till it caramelizes
- When the mixture is thick but not burnt, add coconut flakes.
- Mix the mixture continuously after adding the coconut flakes are added
- Sweet caramel gives a toasty coconut aroma, unlike using normal sugar.
You can also enjoy this tasty snack by adding vanilla extract to the coconut mixture.
How to Make Nigerian Coconut Candy (Step-by-Step)
STEP 1: Break the coconut. First, punch holes in the coconut and drain the water. To get the most out of the coconut, crack it open between the two points where the two halves meet. Then rotate the coconut so you’re still hitting the spot where the two halves meet until they split apart.
STEP 2: Take out the flesh of the coconut, and separate it from the shell with a butter knife.
STEP 3: Use a grater to shred the coconut into small pieces.
STEP 4: Add salt. Add sugar. Mix.
STEP 5: In a large dry pan on medium heat, fry the coconut. Do not add oil. Stir frequently, so all sides of the shredded coconut cook evenly.
STEP 6: When the coconut starts to brown, lower the heat and keep stirring. You’ll know it’s ready when the coconut candy turns golden brown and is not wet.
STEP 7: Cool before serving.
What To Serve With Coconut Candy
- Toppings – Make your coconut candy toppings for ice cream, yogurt, smoothie, and even Nigerian garri (cassava flakes).
- Drinks – You can serve coconut candy as a snack or dessert with a coca cola drink, wine, Chapman, zobo drink, Fanta, and so on.
- Chocolate – You can make chocolate-covered coconut candies by wrapping chocolate frosting around your molded coconut candies (this can only be done for chewy coconut candies, that is, made with caramelized sugar).
Tips About Making Coconut Candy
- Use medium heat throughout the cooking process. This prevents burning at any point of cooking.
- Avoid preparing the coconut candy on low heat, so it doesn’t get soggy.
- For this crunchy version of coconut candy, use a big hole grater. It will let you feel the crunchiness better, which is interesting.
- If you caramelize your sugar, handle the steamy caramel with care.
- For turning sugar into caramel, ensure the mixture doesn’t get burnt. That is, as soon as it starts to thicken, add coconut shreds. If not, you will get bitter coconut candy.
- Although coconut candy is supposed to be a very sugary snack, you can reduce the quantity of sugar to suit your taste.
How To Store Nigerian Coconut Candy
Nigerian coconut candy is usually preserved in airtight bottles. This bottle can be kept at room temperature or inside the fridge or freezer.
Room temperature, fridge, or freezer-preserved coconut candy will last for months.
If you made sticky chewy coconut candy, the fridge or freezer preservation method is best to store your coconut candy for a long time.
Why Is My Coconut Candy Bitter?
If you don’t stir your coconut candy while frying it, it will get burnt, and you will get a hard, bitter coconut candy.
Also, if your coconut candy is the chewy type, the coconut candy should be stirred in as soon as the sugar caramelizes. If not, the caramel will get burnt, and your coconut candy will be bitter.
FAQ About Coconut Candy
Who invented coconut candy?
The first coconut candy was invented in the 1930s by Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc in Ben Tre Province, the kingdom of coconut. This first candy is the type that the coconut meat was ground finely.
How many calories are in coconut candy?
This coconut candy has 77kcal calories per serving.
What should I use coconut water for?
Coconut water is often used to make coconut juice or coconut smoothies. To make coconut juice, add coconut water, meat, and sugar to the blender, blend until the mixture is smooth, pour coconut juice into a cup, and add ice to enjoy it chilled.
- 1 large coconut
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Break the coconut. First, punch holes in the coconut and drain the water. To get the most out of the coconut, crack it open between the two points where the two halves meet. Then rotate the coconut so you're still hitting the spot where the two halves meet until they split apart.
- Take out the flesh of the coconut, and separate it from the shell with a butter knife.
- Use a grater to shred the coconut into small pieces.
- Add salt. Add sugar. Mix.
- In a large dry pan on medium heat, fry the coconut. Do not add oil. Stir frequently, so all sides of the shredded coconut cook evenly.
- When the coconut starts to brown, lower the heat and keep stirring. You’ll know it’s ready when the coconut candy turns golden brown and is not wet.
- Cool before serving.
- If you don't have a big enough sauce pan to fry all the coconut in one go, divide the ingredients into three parts, and fry them separately.
- You can bake both halves of the coconut at 350°F (180°C) for 15 minutes. The coconut meat should come off easily after this.
* Recipe adapted from Yummy Medley.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 77Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 77mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g
* Please note that all nutrition information are just estimates. Values will vary among brands, so we encourage you to calculate these on your own for the most accurate results.
This delicious snack is made from fresh coconuts and contains flavor and nutrients. Nigerian coconut candy is also very versatile and can be enjoyed in many different ways.
Whether you enjoy it as a snack or use it to decorate cakes or other desserts, you can’t go wrong with this snack.
One thing I love about this Nigerian food is its easy preparation. I made my first batch of chewy coconut candy when I was 12.
This snack might become your new family favorite if you have little ones interested in learning how to cook.
I recommend making this recipe for any coconut lover, anyone looking for an authentic Nigerian flavor, or anyone with a sweet tooth!
Make crunchy coconut candy ahead of time and store it in a cookie jar, mason jar, or glass bottle. Enjoy this yummy snack as a standalone snack throughout the week or serve it as a slight snack with a drink to friends and visitors.
I encourage you to try this recipe if you have never had Nigerian coconut candy. Want to see more Nigerian recipes? Here are some recipes suggestions for you: