Hawaiian Coconut Candy

by Lori on January 31, 2012

From the moment I start cooking something for a blog post, I begin to think about how I want to style it, often sketching out something onto the recipe itself or on a separate piece of paper if room doesn’t permit.  And while I’m making pictures along the way, words and snippets of thought to be included in the post freely move about in my head like internal dialogue in a comic strip.  I’m so in the moment, trying to achieve the shots I want, that I don’t take time to jot down my thoughts.  Multi-tasking while in my creative mode isn’t something I’m particularly interested in.  I’ve come to realize this isn’t the best way to roll because days may go by before I’m able to sit down and actually write the post.  It’s often hard to get that word mojo back while trying to connect the thoughts that linger in my memory.  Of course this is with the assumption that the words and snippets are still there and haven’t been replaced by a million and one other parcels of life that have been grouped under the heading of “distractions.”

Quite often I wish to be the kind of person capable of keeping the spigot at an even flow, accruing things in a manner of degrees rather than all at once.  But I’m not that kind of person.  And I’m not so naive to think that I really have all that much control over the majority of what is often perceived as being thrust upon me – that which makes me choose between this blog and my family. There really is no choice as far as I’m concerned, just a commitment to act as quickly as possible and get back to where I left off.

So I look to my photos for inspiration and try to recover my misplaced direction.  It also really helps to step outside on a winter day and be greeted with near 80-degree temps.  Typically this kind of summer-in-winter weather pattern disappoints me but some days it appears as a gift, especially when I need to be reminded of the warm, distraction-free days of last October when all that stood between me and relaxation was paradise and a small bag of Hawaiian coconut candy.

I’d love to say that our unseasonably warm weather along with the photos brought all of my thoughts right back where I’d left them, but they didn’t.  Too much time has passed and too many life circumstances have directed me elsewhere.  All I am left with is the memory of sweetened, caramelized, crunchy coconut shavings  – any remaining bits of which have also disappeared with the passage of time.

So rather than fight time I’m going to surrender to it, accepting that it is better to pick up the other coconut that sits on my kitchen counter and get back to where I left off .

I consider it the sweetest of all distractions.


Hawaiian Coconut Candy

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: varies depending on size of coconut

Serving Size: varies

If you have ever traveled along the roads on Maui and have stopped at a roadside stand or swap meet, then you may know of the Hawaiian Coconut Candy of which I speak. There is absolutely nothing like it.


  • 1 whole coconut, drained and shelled
  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. With a vegetable peeler, shave the coconut into long strips and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add water and sugar and dissolve over medium heat.
  3. Add vanilla and coconut and increase heat to high.
  4. Stir occasionally and boil for 30 minutes or until the syrup has reduced significantly (about 2/3 of it should be gone) and the coconut becomes translucent.
  5. Remove strips of coconut with tongs, allowing excess syrup to drip off, and lay in a single layer on silicone mat-lined sheet pans.
  6. Place sheet pans in a 275 degree F preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until coconut is evenly browned and caramelized.
  7. Promptly and carefully remove coconut candy from sheet pans while it is still hot (use tongs or a metal spatula) and place candy on a cooling rack.
  8. When candy is completely cool, store in an airtight glass jar.


Coconuts can be found at most supermarkets. Choose one filled with coconut water (you'll hear it sloshing around when you shake it), and drink the water. It is the most natural source of rehydration and I love it with a splash of pineapple juice.

The coconut will more than likely be scored around the "equator" of the shell for easier cracking. Instructions for opening the coconut are usually on a sticker attached to the coconut.

When the hard shell of the coconut is removed, there will be a brown skin on the outside of the coconut meat. There is no need to remove this. It is fine to eat and will not alter the flavor of the coconut at all.

You want to keep the coconut meat in big pieces so you can achieve long strips of coconut so be careful when prying it out of the shell. Once I broke the coconut in half, I broke each half in half which made it easier to get the meat out.

I found it best to put as many pieces of coconut onto the sheet pans at one time making sure not to create a pool of syrup which will present problems when it's time to remove the candy to cool. A little syrup will inevitably form around each slice of coconut; that's okay.

It seemed a waste to discard the remaining syrup, so I used some of it to sweeten my coffee and tea.


Did you like this? Share it:

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristy January 31, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Wow! This is fantastic! Your pictures are phenomenal!


Lori February 1, 2012 at 11:13 am

Thank you girlie!


Maria February 1, 2012 at 7:56 am

Gorgeous photos! Now I want to go to Hawaii!
Maria recently posted..Guacamole BruschettaMy Profile


Lori February 1, 2012 at 11:14 am

Thanks Maria! I think I could live off of this candy.


Elle February 1, 2012 at 11:42 am

I LOVE coconut, thank u so much for this recipe =)
Elle recently posted..what’s cool today? SNOWMy Profile


Jennifer (Delicieux) February 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

What a fantastic recipe. I’ve never heard of candied coconut before, it looks wonderful and delicious!!! And your photos are just simply stunning!
Jennifer (Delicieux) recently posted..Quinoa with Zucchini and Onions and 10 Interesting Facts About QuinoaMy Profile


Lori February 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

Thank you Jennifer. I had never heard of coconut candy either until my friend introduced me to it when I was in Maui last year. Needless to say, I was smitten at first bite.


Rosa February 3, 2012 at 9:44 am

lovely clicks and great recipe! that kind of candy must be addictive.




Lori February 6, 2012 at 10:29 am

Thank you Rosa! And you are right: the candy is totally addicting!


Gale Reeves February 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm

You have inspired me!
Gale Reeves recently posted..chocolate shotsMy Profile


Lori February 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

Gale, That is one of the highest compliments one can receive! Thank you for that.


yummy supper February 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Woah, It’s like caramelized coconut! Yum. Reminds me of these coconut caramels we were addicted to in Bali.
Lori, it’s interesting to hear about your process. Even in your small bits of time, you created something beautiful.
yummy supper recently posted..DREAMING OF CORFUMy Profile


Lori February 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

Thank you E! The coconut candy is just as you describe: crispy, caramelized shavings of coconut. And it’s totally addicting. To know that there is such a delight as a coconut caramel just about sends me over the edge!


Let Me Eat Cake February 10, 2012 at 12:26 am

i’ve never had hawaiian coconut candy but it sounds amazing and your pictures are mouth watering! thanks for sharing the recipe I’m excited to try it!


Peggy/Serendipity Traveler February 19, 2012 at 11:29 pm

While traveling in Maui we also stopped for delicious coconut candy often. Am just trying my first batch while staying on Molokai. The recipe i am using calls for 3/4 C. water and 1 1/2 C. sugar ……..we will see how it turns out, in the oven now. The leftover syrup is a lovely sweetener for iced tea or lemonade.
Your photos are lovely and your blog is one i will return to. Please visit mine at Serendipity Traveler.


Lori February 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

As I began my recipe testing for Hawaiian coconut candy, I followed a simple syrup ratio of equal parts water and sugar and went from there. The coconut I used was large and I had to adjust the water and sugar levels so the syrup could reach (and partially cover) the entire batch of sliced coconut. While the coconut does soften a bit as it cooks, it doesn’t really shrink so I was glad I used enough water. Besides, I was left with more of that glorious syrup!


Gloria February 25, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Hi Lori. Your photos are stunning. I love the first photo and the contrast of pure white coconut against the rich mahogany backdrop. I don’t even care for coconut, but your photos make me want it. I’m also drawn to the last photo photo with cool shades of blue glimmering off that jar that looks so great with with your beautiful coconut candy on top of the sunny warm linen. Art!

Also, thank you for sharing some insight into your process. I find myself struggling to blog and balance my life, fit it all in while maintaining the level of quality I want to come across in my blog topics, writing and photography. But every post, everyday is a new opportunity!
Gloria recently posted..Parmesan and Black Pepper BiscottiMy Profile


Lori February 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

Hey Gloria, Thank you for such a lovely comment. I’m flattered :)


April April 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I have been looking for a recipe to make this cocnut candy for over a year. I’m excited to try it. What do tyout hink about using a dehydrator? Do you think you can achieve the same caramelization?


Lori April 23, 2012 at 11:15 am

April, I don’t have experience with a dehydrator, so I’m not sure exactly what the outcome would be. If you go that route, please respond back so that your experiences can be added for the benefit of the other readers who may be wondering the same thing. And, of course, I’m curious to know as well!


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: