Coconut Ice is the pretty sweet we fell in love with at fete stalls all those years ago. Biting into the lovely layers of pink and white sends us directly to coconut heaven (and delivers a mighty good sugar kick in the process!)
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.
Coconut Ice: made the old fashioned way
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, along with a few drops of pink colouring, however you should ideally read through the process before launching into this recipe. To make it easy, I’ve also created a how-to video which you can find in this post.
Tips for perfect Coconut Ice
It will also help to keep these tips in mind when making up a batch of this lovely coconut sweet treat:
- You’re working with a hot sugar mixture. 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!)
A traditional recipe from 1938
This recipe 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.
Keep scrolling for the tested and tweaked version.
- Slice Tin (11 x 7 inch)
- 4 cups caster sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 2 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
- few drops pink food colouring
- 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.