Lets be honest. Coconut is the bomb! I like all forms of it. Every day in St. Lucia when I am on my way home from my workout, whether its a run, a bike ride or returning from my spin class, I stop and buy a fresh coconut from Lester McClay Clifford. This involves drinking the water from the coconut he has just cut specially for me, while regaling me with the most recent happenings in the world of coconut. I then pass it back to him and he whacks it open and cuts off a “spoon” for me to eat the soft jelly that has formed inside. How much jelly we find inside is always a mystery though he says he knows exactly what he’s giving me. The older the coconut the thicker and dryer is the jelly, like the one in the photo below which is how we need it for this recipe. This is known as “coco sec” or dry coconut in St. Lucia and there is a huge snobbery attached to how you eat/drink a coconut, in terms of whether you need a straw ( I do as it helps preserve the lippy), how young you like your coconut and on and on. Funny really.
You know I love to make a healthy new discovery! This week that amazing thing is coconut nectar and coconut sugar. Why have I only just discovered this when I live most of the year in St. Lucia?? Because we don’t make it there and have never heard of it is the answer. The coconut nectar I used in this recipe has come all the way from Bali, and I learned about it in London which is where I made these bars ironically enough. Fret not Sun Templers, I will be looking into this and will get back to you as soon as I’ve unearthed any news. The reason I’m so excited is that coconut nectar is high in minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It is also low glycemic, ranking 35 on the GI scale, compared to agave at 42, honey at 55, cane sugar at 68. Where have you been all this time coconut nectar??
It is made by collecting the “juice” when the very tip of the coconut blossom is cut off. A container is placed around the bottom of the blossom (which kind of looks like a gentle broom) and collected twice per day, each time slicing off the very tip. This juice is then boiled to remove the water and to thicken it a bit, resulting in the nectar, which is beautifully amber coloured and tastes divine. The coconut sugar is made by heating this nectar further and rolling it in an oversized pot like the “coppers” used to make cane sugar a century ago.
I discovered Bounty Bars when I was pregnant with Stephanie and Louise, and before diabetes had set in. I absolutely loved them and still do but don’t eat them as their GI (glycemic index) is way too high for me now. This Raw Chocolate Coconut Bar Recipe is the answer to that taste yearning in a positively healthy way.
Raw Chocolate Coconut Bar Recipe
Makes 12 to 16 depending on thickness
175g (6 oz, 2 c) grated fresh coconut (approx. 1 whole coconut)
60ml (2 oz, 1/4 c) virgin coconut oil,
4 Tbsp. coconut nectar (substitute with honey or maple syrup)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
60 ml (2oz, 1/4 c) coconut oil
30ml (2 tbsp) cocoa butter
30g (1/3 c) raw cocoa powder
1/4 cup honey
pinch of salt
The photo above is of pure unadulterated cocoa butter. Strangely again, this is not sold in St. Lucia despite the fact that we produce high quality cocoa. You can occasionally find it at the market in a hard block used for moisturising the skin. The brilliant thing about it is that it is solid at room temperature and is used in virtually all chocolate production.
I used fresh coconut for this recipe and you can read how to best remove the flesh here. I did take the preparation a step further in that I removed the brown “skin” using a potato peeler. You could also use desiccated coconut but you’d have to add a tbsp or so of water to the mix. Chop the coconut quite finely first in the food processor and then add all the other coconut filling ingredients and blitz until it is smooth-ish (see above). Line a dish with cling film and press the mixture firmly in while trying to achieve a uniform spread. Place in the freezer until you are ready to deal with it but for at least an hour. Cut into bars
Place all the chocolate ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until everything is melted and uniform. I used a whisk to help with this.
Dip each bar into the chocolate mixture and place on a grill and let the excess drip off. Place the whole grill if you can into the freezer. Repeat this process a second time. I didn’t achieve perfect coverage but I think my Raw Chocolate Coconut Bars looked respectable enough and they sure tasted yummy. These bars can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.