Toasted coconut is coconut which has been briefly toasted at high heat to brown it and bring out a nutty flavor. It is used as a garnish on a variety of foods, and it can also be utilized in various desserts. Some stores sell prepared toasted coconut, and it can also be very easily made at home. One advantage to making toasted coconut at home is that it can be made fresh for each use, retaining its crispy flavor rather than softening in storage.
Shredded coconut, coconut flakes, and desiccated coconut can all be toasted. To toast coconut, the coconut meat is spread out on a large pan and either heated in a toaster oven or heated in the regular oven. It can also be heated on a stovetop at high heat, as long as the pan is periodically tossed or the contents are stirred to reduce the risk of burning the coconut. Some people prefer to use cast iron for toasting coconut, because it heats more slowly and evenly, eliminating hot spots which can cause burning.
One common use for toasted coconut is as a garnish on soups and curries. The garnish adds a crunchy texture and a nutty flavor which some people find quite enjoyable. Asian curries, especially coconut curries, pair very well with toasted coconut, and it also goes well with things like split pea soup, curried soups, and squash soups.
It can also be scattered on cakes and cupcakes for a twist on a more traditional coconut garnish, and included in baked goods. Candymakers also work with toasted coconut, rolling candies in it as well as coating it in chocolate for nutty-flavored coconut haystacks. This coconut product can also be baked into cookies, blended into icings and frostings, or eaten plain, although it can be a very high-fat snack, for people who are concerned about dietary calories.
One of the key aspects of toasted coconut is the crunchy texture, which is why many people prefer to make it fresh. If toasted coconut sits in storage, it can become softened and stale, which is undesirable. To refresh toasted coconut which has been sitting too long, the coconut can be quickly tossed in a heated pan on the stove to reheat it and cause it to crisp up again. Allowing toasted coconut to cool completely before storage is also a good idea, ensuring that steam will not be released in the storage container, causing the coconut to take on water.