When a friend had given me this recipe a few years ago she said they were a million times better than a Mounds bar. A million times? To be honest I was a little skeptical on this bold claim. Was it possible one could actually make something as good as or a million times better than a Mounds bar? Being a person who absolutely loves the taste and texture of coconut in anything, I had to take on the challenge and make them, just to see if she was right of course. And, well, yes she was right.
These coconut balls were creamy, rich, delicious, beautiful, and I might add just a little addictive. They would convert even a non-coconut eater, maybe. After just one bite I became convinced that I would never want to eat a Mounds bar or Almond Joy ever again, no matter how hungry I was or how much I was craving the taste of coconut and chocolate. They were that over the top great. Maybe even a zillion times better than a Mounds bar.
It all begins with the coconut, beautiful white coconut. The confectionary sugar is mixed in with the coconut in a very large bowl.
Once the coconut and confectionary sugar are mixed together, you mix in the sweetened condensed milk and the melted butter. This becomes a very, very thick mixture. I use a wooden spoon in the beginning stages and then I lightly grease my hands in butter and continue mixing using my hands until all of the sugar and coconut are perfectly blended.
This recipe calls for chilling the mixture twice. First after it is all mixed together and then again after the balls are formed. I generally chill the mixture overnight although the first chilling can be as long as 3-4 hours.
As the mixture was chilling I was debating which ice cream scoop to use. Thought about using the oval one so they looked like eggs, but then I thought the proportion to coconut to chocolate would be slightly off. I have an unusual square ice cream scoop that my friend's husband brought me back from England (my request of this scoop sent him off on quite a quest through London) but I thought the coconut squares would be 'too' large. My one inch ice cream scoop was the perfect size. You can you a 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch ice cream scoops, but you will be scooping and dipping for days, okay not days, but it will take a little longer. But its really not about the time it takes, its about the size you want.
This recipe takes more than one 2.5 pound block of the Ghiradelli double chocolate. I would say that it takes a total of 3.5 pounds of chocolate to dip all of these coconut ball. So as to not overheat my chocolate, I melt the chocolate in more than one batch.
After I finish dipping, I use the leftover chocolate to randomly decorate the tops. I like the somewhat homemade look to these coconut balls. I place melted chocolate in a baggie, make a small snip to one corner and then use like a pastry bag. You can also just dip your fork into the melted chocolate and spread over the dipped coconut balls.
Coconut Balls aka Better than a Mounds Bar (hardly any tinkering to a recipe shared by a friend)
3 pounds confectionary sugar
28 ounces shredded coconut (2 packages)
28 ounces sweetened condensed milk (2 cans)
1/2 pound or 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 1/2 to 3 pounds of Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Candy Making and Dipping Bar
Optional: Whole almonds added to the top of each coconut ball (press into coconut ball before chilling the second time)
1. In a large bowl, mix the confectionary sugar and coconut until well blended.
2. Add the sweetened condensed milk and melted butter to the coconut/sugar mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix all of the ingredients together until well blended.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and chill several hours or overnight.
4. Using an ice cream scoop (1/2 inch to 1 inch) make balls and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and chill several hours.
5. Melt chocolate over simmering water. Remove from heat when dipping.
6. Dip one coconut ball at a time. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
7. Place some melted chocolate in a small baggie. Cut tip and use to decorate tops of dipped coconut balls.
8. Store in a cool place.
The second and more powerful influence goes back even further in time. When I was ten years old, the family of my best friend always invited me to their dinner table and holiday gatherings, even though I had a family of my own. Most times, I felt like the adopted fifth child. It was at these dinners where I learned much about food, particularly Italian and Polish foods. Being at this table gave me my 'first' tastes and smells of foods that were not served in the house I grew up in. Sometimes if the food was too unfamiliar to me, I needed to smell it first, which led me to be given the nickname 'sniffer' by my best friend's father. But more important than the food knowledge I acquired from them was that my concept of 'family' became broadened and deepened. And if learning and being the recipient of that concept wasn't enough, it was in that household and at that dinner table where I learned the values of 'inclusiveness, generosity, and acceptance'. And when you are ten years old, these are pretty impressionable values.
The parents of my best friend are no longer here but I believe what they taught me and their children are the lifelong lessons that keeps their legacy and memory alive. I should only hope to have just some of the impact on others that they had on me. So on this Easter holiday, I feel incredibly blessed to be in the company of those who, like Andy and Edna had, made me feel like a member of a family. Bringing a key lime pie or coconut balls to their gatherings will seem like such a small, insignificant gesture of thankfulness in comparison to what I will be receiving. Happy Spring, Happy Easter to you all.