Carriacou is an island just north of Grenada, part of the nation of Grenada. It surely has many fine culinary traditions, the one I’m focusing on right now is the coconut drops sold out of the back of minivans. Or, to be accurate, from the sides of minivans, because they have those doors that slide open. In the afternoons, people pulled their minivans to the side of the road, opened all the doors and set up shop. The bakery van was next to the cheap and revealing beach attire van. I chose the bakery one.
In truth, while “coconut bread” was listed as a must-try item in the Caribbean I couldn’t tell what, exactly, to try. In some places the coconut bread looked basically like banana bread. In the Caribbean cookbook, I consulted it was a yeast-risen bread wrapped around a coconut filling. Then I found a red coconut filling inside a sort of bread*, but it wasn’t the same kind of bread as in the book. Plus, at the end of the week of the sailing class, we had to rescue another group stuck on a boat with two dead engines, and as they transferred all their luggage to our decks I saw a large whiteboard with sailing instruction scrawled on the edges and in the center a big COCONUT BREAD with an X through it. And while I didn’t take that as a caution to never try coconut bread (although the warning was, ominously, next to the instructions on how to use the head), it didn’t make me enthusiastic to try a whole lot of coconut bread**. Thus my strategy of approaching the minivan on the side of the road, requesting coconut bread, and receiving what the gentleman operating the van referred to as a coconut drop.
* Update: Turns out these are from Guyana and they’re called salaras. It also turns out that you cannot use guava paste to make the inside red without food coloring. They taste good, and they look reddish before being baked, but then they turn brown.
**For the record, normally when confused about what to try I go ahead and try everything.
The coconut drop tasted similar to a coconut scone I make, but denser and more nutmeg-y. I was not so much inspired to replicate that particular baked item, as inspired to make my own coconut scones better. Which I did. Keen recipe watchers will note that my first step in making them better was to add butter to a previously vegan recipe. Go ahead and judge me, they’re delicious. Light and coconut-y scones with a sweet coconut crust on bottom. Inspired by the Caribbean.
Coconut Drop Scones
4 Tb butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1 Tb baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg (you can up this if 1 tsp if you’re a particular nutmeg fan)
1/3 cup white sugar
13 oz can of full fat coconut milk, top cream and liquid separated
1 Tb vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375-F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.
In a medium sized skillet, melt the butter with the brown sugar. Once it’s melted stir in the shredded coconut. Press this mixture into the pan. It won’t stretch all the way to the edge but that’s fine, you’re making a base to drop the scone batter onto.
Whisk together the remaining dry ingredients, including sugar, in a large bowl.
With the whisk attachment on a standing mixer, or electric beaters, or a very strong arm, whisk the coconut cream with the vanilla until it is smooth. While this is happening, warm the remaining coconut liquid to the temperature you’d get from the hot water tap – I use a mug in the microwave.
Add the whipped coconut to the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula to incorporate with a minimum of stirring. Stir in the hot coconut liquid – you will not need all of it start with about half, stir in only enough to make everything well moistened, the same consistency as drop biscuits. Again, try to minimize the stirring.
Plop heaping serving spoonfuls of batter onto the coconut-ed pan, you should get 6 large scones or 8 more demure ones. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pan. After 15 minutes (total) baking time start checking for doneness – they should be delicately browned on top. Remove the pan and then wait for it to cool down from hot to warm before trying to remove the scones. If you take them out too early, the crust on the bottom won’t stick, they need to cool down to be cohesive.