18 Jan

This past summer, we took a trip to San Diego (yeah, this past summer – I’m a little behind). There was a bakery a couple blocks from our hotel and every time we drove past the bakery – taxi, rental car company, hotel shuttle, we were told we had to go the this bakery, how everything was amazing, and what unique the flavors combinations the bakery has.

Well, by the third time I heard all on this I decided I wanted to at least go in a take a look, knowing darn well I would not be able to try anything. When we walked in, I knew it was a good thing I could not eat gluten because there was no way I would have been able to choose only one thing to try.

There was one dessert that definitely caught my eye – the coconut cocada. It looked like an oversized coconut macaroon. Although they were gluten-free we left without trying one.

I however have remained intrigued and unable to get them out of my head. My quick Google research on cocada revealed cocada is a traditional Brazilian sweet based on coconut with variations including eggs, egg yolks, coconut milk, condensed milk, fruit syrup, and/or sugar. So the variations seem to range in texture from light and fluffy to sweet, gooey, and almost truffle-like.

I however settled on the candy/cookie
bark like cocada with a chewy caramel-texture with crispy edges. I made a couple changes to the recipe. Yes, it does not matter if a recipe is already gluten-free I still can’t leave it well enough alone.

The changes I made were made in an attempt to reduce the sugar levels and avoid sweetness overload. In addition to eliminating the corn syrup, I also reduced the proportion of sweetened condensed milk. The first time I made the coconut bark, I also unsweetened coconut; the unsweetened coconut I used had very large flakes, so it measured at 5 1/2 cups but was only 9.6 ounces. The second pan, I only had sweetened coconut, so I used one 14 oz bag. Both pans tuned out delicious –toasted, caramel flavor, with a slightly, chewy texture with slightly crisp edges.

With all the changes I made I don’t know how authentic this recipe is, but it is certainly tasty.


~ Makes 24 pieces ~


  • 9.5 oz unsweetened, large flaked coconut or 14 oz sweetened, shredded coconut(approximately 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1-14 oz can sweetened, condensed milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond or hazelnut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • couple pinches of salt, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon
  • melted chocolate, optional


Line an 11×17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to350°F.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, the extracts and salt until thoroughly incorporated. Coconut should be evenly coated with milk but the mixture will be very think.

Spread coconut mixture evenly across the parchment lined baking sheet; it is the easiest to spread with slightly wet hands. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until cocada turns deeply golden with dark edges. Be sure to bake until the entire pan is deep golden, if taken out when the color is only lightly golden the center will be underbaked and taste of sweeten condensed milk and lack the deep caramel flavor.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Using a pizza cutter or wet knife to slice the cocada into pieces. Carefully remove the parchment lining.

If desired, dip or drizzle the cocada with melted chocolate.

Store cocada in an airtight container.

Adapted from Vanilla Sugar Blog and Scarletta Bakes

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