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Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice made the old fashioned way with milk and sugar. Absolutely irresistible!
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or scroll for tips (and a little nostalgia).

coconut ice coloured white and pink stacked on cake plate

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!)

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.

coconut ice on cake stand

Coconut Ice: made the old fashioned way

This old-fashioned Coconut Ice Recipe uses milk and sugar and a traditional sweet-making process rather than the condensed mik version which is perhaps more popular today.  

While many Coconut Ice Recipes today use condensed milk, this recipe is from the 1930s and takes a more traditional sweet-making approach.

It uses only three ingredients, sugar, milk and desiccated coconut, along with a few drops of pink colouring.

However, you should ideally read through the process in the recipe card below before launching into this recipe.

You’ll also need to scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the quantities.

(And if you love old-fashioned coconut recipes, you might like to check out these Coconut Biscuits and this Coconut Cake.

Let’s go: making Coconut Ice

First, grease a slice tin or pan (approx 27 x 18 centimetres) and line with baking paper, leaving some extra either side to lift the coconut ice slab out of the tray.

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

Remember, low heat and 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.

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

Next, remove from 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.

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.

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.

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

coconut ice collage pin

Tips for perfect Coconut Ice

This is not an easy Coconut Slice recipe but it’s certainly worht the little extra effort that’s required. The old-fashioned recipe really does have the edge on the more modern ones.

So, to help you get things just right, keep these tips in mind when making up a batch of this lovely coconut sweet treat:

  • You’re working with a hot sugar mixture which can easily cause burns. Don’t forget this!
  • Make sure the sugar dissolves in the milk over low heat before bringing the mixture to the boil.
  • Once you’ve added the coconut, the mixture needs to cook again and reach just the right consistency. Watch the video to get a good idea of the sloppy porridge-like consistency you’re working towards.
  • Did I mention that the mixture is super hot? Take care with this recipe. (Yes, I learnt the hard way – ouch!)

Variation ideas for Coconut Ice

Some readers have commented that they have made this recipe successfully using soy milk and coconut milk.

You could also try using a different colour rather than pink or adding a flavour, such as vanilla, almond or lemon essence or cocoa, to the coloured layer.

Storing Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice should be kept in an airtight container.

Because of the high sugar content (with sugar being a preserver) it should keep for up to a month at room temperature.

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.

The recipe: a traditional recipe from 1938

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

It appeared in the The Australian Worker newspaper, which was published in Sydney for the Australian Workers’ Union between 1890 and 1950.

Remember to keep scrolling for the tested and tweaked version.

coconut ice recipe
coconut ice coloured white and pink stacked on cake plate

Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice made the old fashioned way with milk and sugar. Absolutely irresistible!
4.75 from 36 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Australian
Keyword: coconut ice
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 24 medium squares
Calories: 194kcal

Equipment

  • Slice Tin (11 x 7 inch)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups caster sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
  • few drops pink food colouring

Instructions

  • Remember, you are working with a boiling sugar mixture in this recipe which will easily burn your skin. I don't recommend making this recipe with children around. Take care not to touch the hot sugar mixture until it's set.
  • Grease a slice tin (11 x 7 inch) and line with baking paper, leaving some extra either side to lift the coconut ice slab out of the tray. See the video above for tips.
  • 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. Take the mixture off the heat for a few moments if it starts boiling too rapidly.
  • Take the mixture off the heat and add 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 porridge that needs just a little more cooking and as you stir it 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Store Coconut Ice in an airtight container at room temperature. It should keep for up to a month.

Nutrition

Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 16IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Recipe Rating




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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)!

rachel

Monday 28th of June 2021

Thanks so much for sharing, i dont like the condense milk method for ice coconut or fudge as texture not the same. it school holidays here now so ive made a small batch of ice coconut and soon gonna do the old fashion fudge too

Elaine

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

@rachel,

HI agree with you 100% about the New receipes for Fudge and C/Nut Ice they are not as nice!

Libby

Monday 28th of June 2021

Hi Rachel. Awesome - yes I love the texture of this one too. I made the fudge a while ago and need to revisit it so will be interested to see how you go with it. Enjoy the school holidays. Libby :)

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