Who doesn’t love coconut?
Tablet Cocoye is a popular sweet in Haiti made from shredded coconut. There are many variations of this recipe, depending on the region and family adaptation. I am preparing Tablet Cocoye from my mother-in-law’s family recipe.
Growing up in the southwestern part of Haiti, in a town called Jeremie, which was popular for its market and port for the produce of cocoa, coffee, sugarcane, bananas, mangoes, logwood, and hides. Enjoyed by her mother and passed down from generation to generation it was only right that I embrace the cooking and flavors of the Caribbean so I can carry on the deep-rooted traditions of Haitian cuisine.
Cutting and preparing the coconut is a task in itself but well worth the effort!
For years I’ve used store-bought shredded coconut. While this is good for many recipes, it would not have been adequate for this dessert. There are variations of this recipe using fresh shredded coconut however this recipe called for thin strips. Once cooked and prepared, you’ll make piles of the coconut strips that will set into a nest like shape of deliciousness.
The original recipe for Tablet Cocoye called for sugarcane juice instead of granulated sugar. Sugarcane juice is the liquid extracted from pressed sugarcane. There are so many benefits of sugarcane juice in addition to being sweet and delicious – it’s rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and other electrolytes so it’s great for dehydration. It helps cure the common cold and other infections and helps fight fever as it boosts the body’s protein levels.
After saying all this – I substituted sugarcane juice for granulated sugar. Sugarcane is very hard in nature and blending it down runs the risk of ruining your blender – a step I wasn’t willing to test so I improvised.
Start by cleaning and slicing your coconut.
This recipe does not use the coconut juice so strain and enjoy a glass – so many benefits of coconut juice! Once your coconut is ready you’ll want to add half of the water (1 cup). As well as the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and lime zest. Allow a good 2 hours to cook your coconut so it’s not chewy or raw. You’ll notice that the water will start to evaporate – maybe 45 minutes into cooking you’ll want to add the remainder 1 cup of water and continue to cook.
Before all the water has evaporated and your coconut is softer in texture you’ll add the carnation milk and vanilla extract. Allow the coconut to continue to cook stirring frequently so the bottom of your pan doesn’t burn. Continue until the carnation milk cooks down to a thick and sticky mixture. You want to cook as much liquid out as possible – you don’t want the mixture wet. It will be well coated, thick and sticky when you transfer to set. This recipe has a wetter sauce recipe than some, as noted earlier there are so many variations. If you want a drier version, continue to cook the carnation milk mixture down until less wet.
Pile the Tablet Cocoye into 3×3 nests. Allow about 30 minutes of rest time each side so they set and become firm.
Bon Appetite! I hope you enjoy a taste of our family cuisine.
Delicious and sweet, Tablet Cocoye is a popular Haitian dessert made with fresh coconut.
- 2 coconuts
- 2 cups water (divided)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup carnation milk
Crack, clean and slice or shred coconut. Combine coconut, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, grated ginger and lime zest to a saucepan and bring to a boil with 1 cup water. Continue to simmer, when the liquid evaporates and appears low add remaining 1 cup of water. The coconut mixture will cook for roughly 2 hours – until no longer raw and chewy.
With a low amount of water remaining add the vanilla extract and carnation milk. Lower the heat a bit (medium/low) as you don’t want to burn the sugary sauce. Continue to simmer until the liquid thickens and evaporates, stir frequently. You want the coconut mixture to cook off as much liquid as possible. (This recipe variation is a bit wetter than some, so depending on how you want your tablet, continue to cook down).
Once the liquid has cooked off, transfer the coconut mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Make piles of the mixture and flatten out so the coated coconut tablet will dry. Roughly 30 minutes or so, flip the tablet and allow the other side to set.
Once set – enjoy this sweet and delicious dessert!