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Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice made the old-fashioned way with milk, sugar and coconut. Absolutely irresistible!
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or scroll for handy tips and a little nostalgia.

coconut ice.

Coconut Ice is the pretty sweet we fell in love with at fetes and school stalls all those years ago.

Today, biting into the lovely layers of pink and white sends you directly to coconut heaven (and delivers a mighty good sugar kick in the process!)

coconut ice

Coconut Ice: made the old fashioned way

This recipe for Coconut Ice Recipe requires only three ingredients plus a little food colouring for the pink layer.

It makes 24 medium squares, 48 medium rectangles or 96 tiny, bite-size squares.

It’s made the “proper” way! This old-fashioned recipe uses milk and sugar and a traditional sweet-making process rather than the condensed milk version which is perhaps more popular today.  

Why make it the old way?

Easy – it tastes better.

And it remains an easy coconut ice recipe – although you should ideally read through the process in the post and the recipe card below before launching into it.

A recipe for Coconut Ice from 1938

This recipe for Coconut Ice is similar to many published in the 1930s and 1940s.

Here’s an example below that appeared in The Australian Worker newspaper in 1938.

Remember, though, to keep scrolling for the updated and tweaked recipe – with full instructions – in the recipe card below.

coconut ice recipe

BY THE WAY: If you love old-fashioned coconut recipes, you might like to check out my recipes for Coconut Custard, Coconut Biscuits, Choc Coconut Slice and Coconut Cake.

Coconut Ice Ingredients

The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • milk
  • desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
  • pink food colouring.

That’s right. This is a 3-ingredient recipe!

The ingredient measurements can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.

coconut ice ingredients

How to make Coconut Ice

The method is fairly straightforward. However, there’s two thing to keep in mind:

  • you are working with hot sugar – so please take care
  • you do have to work a little quickly when pouring the layers – so read through the process carefully before starting.

Prepping

First, grease a slice tin (approx 28 x 18 centimetres) and line with baking paper – leaving some extra on either side to lift the coconut ice slab out of the tray.

Step 1: Boiling the milk and sugar

Combine the sugar and milk in a large saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Remember, low heat to dissolve the sugar first before it boils.

Bring the milk and sugar mixture to the boil and allow to boil, stirring from time to time, for 5 minutes.

You’ll probably need to reduce the temperature to the lowest setting to maintain the boil.

If the mixture starts to boil too rapidly, take the mixture off the heat for a few moments.

making coconut ice 1

Step 2: Add the coconut

Remove the sugar and milk mixture from the heat and add coconut. Stir to combine.

Return the mixture to the heat and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.

It should thicken to a sloppy porridge-lie consistency and, as you stir it, start to momentarily lift from the bottom of the saucepan a little.

It may need a little longer than 5 minutes but no more than 10 minutes.

making coconut ice 2

Step 3: Pouring into the tin

Pour half the white mixture into the prepared tin and place into the fridge for 5 minutes.

Add a few drops of pink food colour or red food colouring to the remaining mixture and stir through the mixture to create that pretty pink layer.

Place mixture on low heat to keep warm.

TIP: If pink coconut mixture becomes too thick by the time you’re ready to pour it over the white coconut layer, add up to a tablespoon of milk and stir through over low heat to achieve a runnier consistency.

Remove slice tray from the fridge and check that the mixture has set enough to pour the next layer.

Use a spoon to check as the mixture may still be hot. If it’s not set enough, return to the fridge for another 5 minutes.

Pour pink mixture onto top of first layer in the slice tin and allow to set at room temperature.

how to make coconut ice

Once cool, cut into small squares using a sharp knife.

Variation ideas for Coconut Ice

There are a few ways you can change up this recipe.

  • First, change the pink layer to any other colour you like. Blue, yellow, orange… whatever you can dream up.
  • You can also make chocolate coconut ice by adding melted chocolate or cocoa instead of pink food colouring.
  • You could also try adding a flavour, such as vanilla, almond or lemon essence to the coloured layer.
  • Some readers have commented that they have made this recipe successfully using soy milk and coconut milk.

More recipe tips

How long does Coconut Ice last?

Because of the high sugar content (with sugar being a preserver), it should keep for up to a month at room temperature if kept in an airtight container.

Which makes it a perfect gifting idea for Christmas! Wrap some squares in a little cellophane, add some festive ribbons and you have the perfect little gift.

And if you’re looking for other recipes that are perfect for gifting, you might like to check out these ones: Almond Bread, Nuts and Bolts, White Chocolate Rocky Road, Christmas Crack, Mini Christmas Cakes, Choc Cherry Log, Russian Caramels and Rocky Road.

piece of coconut ice served with cup of tea.

If you love the recipe, please leave a rating or comment below. Thanks! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

coconut ice.

Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice made the old-fashioned way with milk, sugar and coconut. Absolutely irresistible!
4.80 from 44 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Australian, British, New Zealand, South African
Keyword: coconut ice
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 24 medium squares
Calories: 193kcal

Equipment

  • Slice Tin (28 x 8cm/11 x 7 inch)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups caster /superfine sugar (850 grams)
  • 1 cup milk (250 ml)
  • 2 1/2 cups desiccated coconut (200 grams)
  • few drops pink food colouring

Instructions

  • Grease the slice tin and line with baking paper, leaving some extra either side to lift the coconut ice slab out of the tray.
  • Combine sugar and milk in a large saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
  • Bring the milk and sugar mixture to the boil and allow to boil, stirring from time to time, for 5 minutes. You will likely have to turn the temperature down to the lowest setting (and even take the mixture off the heat for a few moments) if it starts boiling too rapidly.
  • Take the mixture off the heat and add the coconut. Stir to combine.
  • Return mixture to the heat and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. The mixture should start to thicken slightly. When ready, the consistency resembles sloppy porridge (that needs a little more cooking) and as you stir the mixture should momentarily lift from the bottom of the saucepan a little. It may need a little longer than 5 minutes but no more than 10 minutes.
  • Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin and place into the fridge for 5 minutes.
  • Add a few drops of pink food colouring to the remaining mixture and stir through to create an even pink colour. Place mixture on low heat to keep warm.
  • Remove slice tray from the fridge and check that the mixture has set enough to pour the next layer. Use a spoon to check as the mixture may still be hot. If it's not firm enough to pour the next layer, return to the fridge for another 5 minutes.
  • Pour the pink mixture onto top of first layer in the slice tin and allow to set at room temperature.
  • Cut into 24 medium squares or 48 medium rectangles or 96 tiny squares.

Video

Notes

  • Kitchen safety warning. You’re working with a hot sugar mixture which can easily cause burns. Take extreme care. I don’t recommend making this recipe with children around. Take care not to touch the hot sugar mixture until it’s set.
  • Dissolve the sugar. Make sure the sugar dissolves in the milk over low heat before bringing the mixture to the boil.
  • Is it ready? Go by cooking time and consistency. Once you’ve added the coconut, the mixture needs to cook again to reach the right consistency. Watch the video to get a good idea of the sloppy porridge-like consistency you’re working towards.
  • Is the pink mixture too stiff to pour? Add up to a tablespoon of milk and stir through over low heat to achieve pouring consistency again.
  • Store Coconut Ice in an airtight container at room temperature. It should keep for up to a month.

Nutrition

Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 64mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 16IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Recipe Rating




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Col

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

My aunt used to make this during the war. When I was wearing short pants/ trousers. Now coming up to 90 I’m so glad to make this the old fashioned way, instead of using Carnation milk.

Libby Hakim

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

Hi Col. I imagine it was such a special treat back then. I definitely agree with you here about old-fashioned ways being the best. It's just not the same made with condensed or carnation milk. Thanks so much for your feedback (and memories) and rating. Enjoy! Libby :)

Corr

Saturday 13th of November 2021

Hi Libby. I made this using coconut milk instead of milk. Turned out fine. Thanks for recipe -

Libby Hakim

Saturday 13th of November 2021

Wonderful! Thanks for letting us know :) Enjoy!

Michael Mcdonahuey

Wednesday 10th of November 2021

Hi, can I use soy milk?

Kate

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

@Michael Mcdonahuey, I’ve just made this using soy milk and tastes perfect :)

Libby Hakim

Thursday 11th of November 2021

Hi Michael - not sure about this as I've never tried it but you could certainly give it a go. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

Sheila

Sunday 17th of October 2021

Hello, I’d love to try this, just wondered…is the desiccated coconut sweetened or not. Thanks in advance. ~S~

Libby Hakim

Monday 18th of October 2021

Hi Sheila - it's unsweetened. (I don't think we can even get sweetened desiccated coconut here in Australia.) Happy cooking!

Mike Villeneuve

Thursday 23rd of September 2021

Why is the chocolate not included with your recipe?

Libby Hakim

Friday 24th of September 2021

Hi Mike. I've not come across coconut ice with chocolate before? Though I do love bounty bars (chocolate and coconut)!

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