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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Adding a twist with coconut

When you think of coconut, do you automatically think of desserts? Many people do, which is natural. Adding coconut to any dish will add a sweetness to your finished dish. There is more that you can do with this tropical ingredient.

Today, I want to share with you an appetizer, Coconut Shrimp Beignets, and two desserts, Coconut Cream Pie and Coconut Mousse. The beignets are a very savory dish and the mousse is not your typical sweet dessert. The pie, however, is very traditional. Let’s head to the kitchen!

Here’s a Louisiana twist on coconut shrimp. It’s a great appetizer, pairing sweet shrimp with coconut. If you’re not a fan of pepper jelly, use remoulade sauce to dip these in.

Coconut Shrimp Beignets

One 10-ounce jar red pepper jelly

1/4 cup Creole mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Vegetable oil, for frying

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

3 teaspoons Creole seasoning

One 12-ounce bottle amber beer

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails left on

In a bowl, whisk the pepper jelly with the mustard and vinegar until smooth. In a large saucepan, heat 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil to 350°. In a bowl, mix the flour with the scallions, coconut, baking powder, sugar, and Creole seasoning. Whisk in the beer and egg to form a thick batter. Working in batches, dip the shrimp in the batter (don’t shake off the excess) and fry over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve with the pepper jelly sauce.

Here’s a traditional use for coconut. I know people who will drive out of there way for a piece of their favorite pie.You know it’s good since it is such an iconic use for coconut.

Coconut Cream Pie

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 cup milk

4 egg yolks

1 whole egg

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup toasted coconut, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 9-inch pie crust, baked according to package directions.

Fresh whipped cream for topping

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together the milk, egg yolks and whole egg. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.

Stir in butter, 1 cup coconut, and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on filling in pan; let stand for 30 minutes.

Spoon custard mixture into prepared pie crust; cover and chill 30 minutes or until set. Top with whipped cream and coconut.

Here’s another dessert using coconut. It’s not a sweet take on the ingredient. As I said last week, a mousse is great way to end a meal.

Coconut Mousse

1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

1 cup Coco Lopez

5 egg yolks

1 tablespoon plain gelatin

1 1/4 cups water

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup coconut, shredded (3 1/2 0z)

1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Bring sweetened condensed milk, water and Coco Lopez to a boil. Whip egg yolks, till light and yellow. Pour hot milk mixture over beaten eggs a little at a time, stir well. Dissolve gelatin in Grand Marnier and stir into milk mixture and eggs. Cool until it begins to thicken to a soft custard consistency. Beat heavy cream and fold into chilled milk, egg, and gelatin mixture. Fold in Angel coconut. Chill for 3 hours before serving.

Make sure that any coconut you use is fresh. It loses its sweetness over time. Since there are many uses for coconut, this should not be a problem. It’s amazing the different ways you can use this favorable ingredient.

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