Lennox Hastie shares the recipe for this creamily charred dessert
While botanically a coconut is a drupe and not a true nut, coconuts have a rich nutty flavour and creamy texture that is a good substitute for the richness of dairy.
Like the process of slowly cooking a tin of condensed milk and making dulce de leche, the idea was that, buried in the ashes, the coconut flesh would cook down slowly in its own sweet milk. The result was incredible.
• 2 coconuts, (approximately 1.2 kg/2 lb 10 oz each) see Notes
• 150g liquid glucose
• 100g dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao solids, with notes of dried fruits, such as valrhona macaé 62%)
• 50g coconut oil
• 100g ripe, sweet cherries, washed, pitted and halved
For the granita:
• 75g caster (superfine) sugar
• 150ml filtered water
• 250g ripe, sweet cherries, washed and pitted
• pinch of sea salt
• squeeze of lemon juice
1 Prepare your embers.
2 Toast the coconuts directly on medium-intense embers until blackened all over, covering the coconuts in 200°C (390°F) hot ashes. Leave to cook for 2 hours, then remove and allow to cool.
3 Carefully make a hole in the top of each coconut and strain the coconut water into a container. This should yield 400 ml (13½ floz) of liquid.
4 With a hacksaw, cut the tops off the coconuts. Scoop out the flesh; you should have approximately 600 g (1 lb 5 oz). Place the coconut shells in the freezer.
5 Blend the reserved coconut water with the flesh to form a smooth purée. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, add the glucose and combine. Refrigerate the mixture for 8 hours. Once the mixture has cooled completely, churn it in an ice cream machine. Transfer to a container and keep in the freezer.
6 Prepare the granita. Boil the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved, producing a light syrup. Allow to cool completely. Blend the cherries to a smooth purée, adding the sugar syrup, salt and a squeeze of lemon. Place in a clean shallow container and freeze for at least 1 hour.
7 Prepare the chocolate-top liquid. Melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and whisk in the coconut oil until emulsified.
8 With a fork, scrape shavings from the cherry granita. Return to the freezer.
9 Remove the charred coconut shells from the freezer and place a large scoop of coconut sorbet in the middle of each shell. Carefully spoon over the chocolate-top liquid (whisking first to re-emulsify if it has separated). Place in the freezer for 2 minutes to harden.
10 In a fine-mesh sieve, grill the halved cherries over gentle embers until warm, slightly smoky and the juices are just beginning to release.
11 Remove the granita from the freezer, scrape again with a fork, and then place the granita around the dome of each coconut choc-top. Surround with warm grilled cherries and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Lennox Hastie, extracted from Finding Fire