Many beaches in the Northeast of Brazil have beautiful rows of coconut palm trees representing Brazil’s tropical essence. When you go to one of those beaches, it is not uncommon to see little frisky boys climbing huge coconut palms to pick green coconuts for their own consumption or to be sold at the beach to thirsty beachgoers who love to drink a refreshing and healthy coconut water. Coconut water is such a fever in Brazil that I think probably 100% of the Brazilian beaches have carts selling the drink. It’s so entertaining to see some of the vendors opening a coconut! They grab a very big sharp knife and cut the fruit open with such dexterity that you almost believe that is easy to copy that. After you finish your water you go back to the cart and ask to the vendor to split it in half so you can eat the fleshy and slippery green coconut meat using an improvised spoon made from coconut skin. With time you will learn that improvisation is something that has been mastered in Brazil!
Coconut can be considered one of the key ingredients of our cuisine. The fruit and its by products are widely used in Brazilian recipes for many savoury dishes, desserts and drinks.
Being a fruit native to Brazil, pineapple is available all year round and many types of pineapples are sold in supermarkets. Brazilians enjoy freshly squeezed pineapple juice to cool down those hot summer days, a slice of fresh pineapple early in the morning or barbecued pineapple on Sunday summer lunches. Pineapple caipirinha is another favourite, check my cocktail recipe here.
This coconut mousse is inspired in a coconut gelatine recipe that my grandma used to make and serve every single Sunday, year after year, after her classic lunch that always include a juicy T-bone barbecue, potato salad with mayonnaise, lettuce salad and baguettes. Even though I ate her dessert so many times I can’t even count, it’s so extraordinary that I still love it. Likewise, my husband told me his mum used to make it every single Sunday, he said during his whole childhood he probably ate tones of it and, like me, he still adores it! I don’t know why, but it looks like this is officially a Sunday dish.
This dessert reminds me of summer because it is chilled, refreshing and used to be served after a barbecue. My recipe is smoother than grandma’s that is why I called a mousse. Coconut and pineapple are a classic combination that appear often in Brazilian desserts. With that in mind I wanted to add my own touch to one of my favourite childhood desserts and for this reason I added the pineapple sauce.
Even though the coconut mousse is super yummy on its own it is just plain white. The dish was asking for some colour! So I decided to garnish with the gorgeous semi-dried pineapple flowers using a recipe that I adapted from a cupcake book. I really like how they look and, to my surprise, the pineapple flowers have a very pleasant sweet-sour flavour that matches very well with the mousse.
100g fresh coconut, roughly chopped (preferably) or packed unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 ½ tbs powdered gelatin
2 cups (500ml) milk
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (270ml) coconut milk
Semi-Dried Pineapple Flowers and Pineapple Sauce:
1 small pineapple (about 1 Kg), peeled
2 tbs caster sugar
5 drops of yellow food colouring
3 tsp corn flour
1. For the pineapple flowers, pre-heat the oven 100°C, fan-forced. Using a mandolin (preferably) or a very sharp knife slice half of the pineapple very thinly (wafer-thin). In a small saucepan combine sugar, 100ml water, food colouring and stir over low heat for 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Brush both sides of the pineapple slices with the syrup and reserve the remaining syrup for the sauce. Place slices in a single layer on wire rack over the oven tray. Dry the slices in the oven for about 1 ¼ hours. Remove from oven and place them on a clean rack to dry.
2. For the pineapple sauce, roughly chop the other half of the pineapple, place in the pan with the remaining syrup and add 200ml of water. Bring the mixture to the boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Blend using a mixer or in the blender and pass through a sieve squeezing all the juices. Discard the fiber. Place the pan over a medium heat. Dissolve the corn flour in 1 ½ tbs of cold water. Mix with the syrup and stir for 5 minutes or until thick (makes about 300ml). Transfer to a little jug and place in the fridge to cool. Stir well before serving.
3. If using fresh coconut, open and peel the coconut as per instructions here. Roughly chop the coconut.
4. For the coconut mousse, in a bowl combine coconut, condensed milk, milk, coconut milk and blend with a mixer or in the blender until the coconut is fine. Place the gelatin in a bowl with 100ml of hot water and stir well until dissolved. Wait for 2 minutes and with the blender on stir in the gelatin.
5. Distribute the mousse amongst dessert bowls and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to set. Serve with pineapple sauce and garnish with flowers.
Receita em Português
Mousse de Côco com Flores de Abacaxi
Mousse de Côco:
100g de coco fresco (de preferência), picado ou coco ralado de pacote
1 ½ colheres de sopa de gelatina em pó
2 xícaras (500 ml) de leite
1 lata (395g) de leite condensado
270 ml de leite de coco
Flores de Abacaxi Semi-Seco e Molho de Abacaxi:
1 abacaxi pequeno (cerca de 1 Kg), descascado
2 colheres de sopa de açúcar refinado
5 gotas de corante alimentício amarelo
3 colheres de chá de amido de milho
1. Para as flores de abacaxi, pré-aqueça o forno a 100°C. Usando um mandolin (de preferência) ou um muito afiada corte fatias bem finas da metade do abacaxi. Em uma panela pequena misture o açúcar, 100 ml de água, corante e mexa em fogo baixo por 2 minutos ou até que o açúcar se dissolva. Aumente o fogo para médio-alto e deixe ferver por 3 minutos, sem agitar. Pincele ambos os lados das fatias de abacaxi com a calda e reserve a calda que sobrou para fazer o molho. Coloque as fatias de abacaxi em uma grade de forno sobre uma forma. Seque as fatias no forno por cerca de 1 ¼ horas. Retire do forno e coloque-os em uma grade limpa para secar.
2. Para o molho de abacaxi, pique a outra metade do abacaxi, coloque na panela com a calda que sobrou e adicione 200 ml de água. Leve a mistura para ferver em fogo médio-alto, reduza o fogo e cozinhe por 5 minutos. Bata no liquidificador e passam por uma peneira para extrair todo o suco. Descartar a fibra. Coloque a panela em fogo médio. Dissolva a farinha de milho em 1 ½ colher de sopa de água fria. Misture com a calda e mexa por 5 minutos ou até engrossar (rende cerca de 300 ml). Transfira para uma pequena jarra e coloque na geladeira para esfriar. Mexa bem antes de servir.
3. Se estiver usando coco fresco, abra e descasque o coco. Pique o coco.
4. Para a mousse de coco, em uma tigela misture coco, leite condensado, leite, leite de coco e bata com um mixer ou no liquidificador até que o coco esteja bem fino . Coloque a gelatina em uma tigela com 100 ml de água quente e mexa bem até dissolver. Aguarde 2 minutos e com o liquidificador ou mixer ligado misture a gelatina.
5. Despeje o mousse em taças de sobremesa e leve à geladeira por 4 horas ou por 1/2 dia para gelar. Sirva com molho de abacaxi e enfeite com as flores.