Super-Fast, Super-Easy Coconut Deliciousness: Delectable Baked Cocadas

Cocadas

For us at Chew on That, this recipe has it all. Sweet and scrumptious. And did we mention fast, relatively low calorie, and simple-to-make (considering that our version has only three basic ingredients)?

And, folks, we’re not talking cake from a can. We’re talking wholesome summertime goodies with a Latin flair – baked cocadas!

If you haven’t had a cocada, it’s a bit like a slightly chewier coconut macaroon with a hint of nuttiness. And because cocadas don’t require eggs – or the careful whipping of those eggs’ whites into medium-firm peaks during preparation as one needs to when making classic coconut macaroons – our cocadas are amazingly easy to prepare.

It should be noted, though, that eggs do add some wonderful elements that separate both the tastes and textures of coconut macaroons from cocadas. When prepared correctly – i.e. with their whites beaten to the perfect consistency – eggs lend both a roundness of flavor as well as a certain airy lightness to French-style coconut macaroons.

Still, even without the eggs, Latin-style cocadas have their own luxurious flavor profile, pairing coconut and creamy condensed milk with overtones of toasted almonds. Cocadas do generally have a modestly denser consistency than macaroons; indeed, a good cocada should have a little more creamy-gooey resistance to the bite than your average macaroon. But that just makes the two coconut treats different, and no less delicious for their differences.

Cocadas in Jars

This recipe is for making a basic cocada. But fans of Latin cooking know that cocadas come in countless shapes, flavors and colors. You can find cocadas of all kinds in the local bodegas and food markets of Mexico, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela – not to mention a growing number of neighborhood stores in Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio and LA (and even one great upscale version paired with a coconut soufflé that I’ve sampled at the Toloache Mexican Bistro in NYC – a truly memorable dessert). That’s because basic cocadas are a wonderful canvas for flavor experimentation. Just add chocolate, vanilla extract, peanut butter chips or dried fruits, and all manner of delicious taste combinations emerge.

Our personal favorite variation is to make the basic cocadas, and then after baking — but while the cocadas are still warm from the oven — dust each piece gently with a little sifted semi-sweet powdered chocolate and maybe a half-pinch of powdered chai. Yum! But, here, we’re going to stick to the basic recipe.

Yield: 24 cocadas (about 8 servings)

Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients

4 Cups Shredded Coconut
1 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
¾ Tsp of Almond Extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large mixing bowl, fully mix together the coconut, condensed milk and almond extract. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes.

Using either two tablespoons or medium-sized ice cream scoop, place heaping round lumps of coconut goodness on to a parchment-covered baking pan leaving about 1-2 inches of space between each cocada. (Note: if one is feeling a little more daring at this point, on can try flattening the coconut and condensed milk mixture out a bit on the parchment and cutting into shapes with a cookie cutter; alternatively some bakers in America shape the mixture into irregular strips on the parchment and call the resulting pieces “coconut bark.” But we personally prefer the “heaping spoonful” method described in our main recipe, as it creates the approximate size and shape we’ve most frequently encountered in authentic South American cooking).

Bake about 15 minutes, watching vigilantly until lightly golden brown (Note: these little mounds will start burning at around 20 minutes in most ovens, so exerting a little heightened awareness around the 15 minute mark during the baking phase is the only real work to this recipe. One wants to see a golden color appear along the surface most of the cocada, with perhaps a little darker brown around the edges of bottom and top).

When done baking, remove from oven and cool on a wire cookie rack.

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