Let’s talk about these coconut balls.
Sweet, sweet Cuban coconut balls, to be more specific. Aka the bestest kind of Cuban street food around.
Let me explain. I was doing a little research on Cuban food for an upcoming post (oh you just wait, it’s going to be SOOO good) and I came across these coconut balls called Coquito Acaramelado. Pretty much immediately, I knew I had to try to recreate this amazing Cuban street food. I mean sweet coconut balls??? You know I am so all about that! After looking at a bunch of recipes, I kind of decided to do my own thing. Which means, I can’t say these are completely traditional, but the flavors are all there.
AND… I made these about 99.9% healthier too. AND they are so SIMPLE. Like four ingredients and a prep time of about fifteen minutes. Win. Win!! Healthier dessert means double the cheese for dinner, and a simple dessert means more time for yourself. I can definitely handle that. 🙂
So since it’s Friday, let me just get right down to things today. My younger brother Red is completing in the Burton US Open Men’s Slopestyle Finals in Vail and I am headed there to watch in a little. But before I can go, I really NEED to get myself organized. You see, I leave for Chicago bright and early tomorrow morning, and to be completely honest, I am nowhere near being ready to go.
Also, I know I have said this before, but flying really stresses me out. I just don’t like it. Like it doesn’t scare me, but it’s more that it’s stressful and just kind of a pain in the butt. But then, I guess it’s better than driving the twenty plus hours to and back from Chicago…so I should probably just keep my mouth shut. 🙁
OH but you guys!! Thank you all so much for the amazing suggestions of things to do in Chicago. I spent like all of last night going through those comments and suddenly wished I was staying a whole week. I now have SO much stuff to cram into my not even forty-two hour stay!
YIKES. Mom, you better bring your game face, cause man, we have lots to see, do and most importantly eat! I mean, cheese shops?? Cupcakes?? PIZZAA?? Dessert cheese?? Coffee, glazed and infused donuts (insert heart-eyed emoji times 4). Rick Bayless restaurants?!?! Goat Barbacoa…GIMME!! Churros!??!?!!!!
Yes, yes and YESS.
Okay, OK. Back to this simple, sweet and perfect recipe.
These delicious little balls are kind of my world right now. Like I need to make them again and again because they are that good. You really cannot beat the flavors of sweet coconut with a little chocolate, you know?
So traditionally I believe these are made with coconut that is soaked in sugar-water, but I didn’t have that on hand. I saw a bunch of recipes that used sweetened condensed milk, so I decided to go that route… except I made some homemade coconut sweetened condensed milk. That way I could keep the sugar down and the coconut flavor high. You can use canned sweetened condensed milk or my homemade version, both work great. And guys, that’s literally it. Shredded coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Why I never thought to combine these is beyond me, but all I can say is, it’s EVERYTHING.
Oh but wait, it gets better! In Cuba they dip these little balls in sugar that’s been melted down to a caramel to make them even sweater. As much has I love this idea, I wanted to keep my balls on the healthier side so instead of sugar I dipped mine in honey. PERFECTION. In my personal opinion, the honey is better than caramel, sweet, sticky… and the honey pairs amazingly well with the coconut. Just a note though, when cooking the honey, be careful not to let it boil too long. The longer it boils, the thicker it will be, and for these coconut balls you don’t want the honey to get thick. when the honey gets too thick it gets all chewy, and then it just tears away from the coconut balls, which is really kind of sad. So don’t over boil the honey!!
The chocolate drizzle is totally my addition, but really, would you expect anything less? I would hope not. 🙂
Sweet Cuban Coconut Balls with Melted Chocolate (Coquito Acaramelado).
In a medium size pot, combine the sweetened condensed milk and coconut. Set the pot over medium heat and cook 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened, being careful not to let the mixture burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the the vanilla.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Once the coconut mixture is cool enough to handle, roll it into tablespoon size balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. If desired, insert a toothpick into the center of each ball. Place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to cool.
Add the honey to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes then remove from the heat. DO NOT cook the honey longer than 5 minutes or it will harden on the coconut balls. Carefully dip each ball into the honey, allowing any excess to drip off. Place back onto the parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining balls. Alternately you can just spoon the honey over each coconut ball.
Allow the balls cool. Serve with melted chocolate.
Coconut Sweetened Condensed Milk.
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar I use coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add the coconut milk and sugar to a small sauce pot. Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer on low for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. Once the milk has thicken and reduced by half remove from the stove and allow to cool. Stir in the vanilla Pour the milk into a glass jar and store in the fridge until ready to use or up to two weeks.
Coconut balls (and chocolate), yup – the Cubans do street food right! 🙂 Just made another two…. dozen.
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