When I was in high school, my geography teacher was a Jamaican gentleman who brought something coconutty and delicious to our classroom every Christmas. In the intervening years I tried to recreate it to no avail, until one day in an Indian grocery I tasted jaggery, a sugar derived from dates, which is also known as pesi gur. The taste took me straight back to a Grade 11 classroom on the Canadian prairie in the dead of winter, which is a funny place for a tropical flavour memory to come from. But I digress.
Jaggery is a fine, moist brown sugar with a molasses flavour and a silky texture. It is used in Caribbean and Indian desserts, and is a great flavour addition to use in some recipes. It has a higher moisture content than a lot of other sugars and therefore is a difficult straight substitute, but it is great for flavour with its mellow molasses-y goodness. Because jaggery is so fine, it is packed into cakes and grated out of those cakes for use, but if you press it between your fingers it will spread like a fine fudge. It is a beautiful thing.
Below I’ve recreated Mr. Prime’s treats in my own way so that you can find a way to play with jaggery.
Coconut Ginger Drops
175g fancy coconut (or, if you are feeling ambitious, drain and peel a fresh coconut and grate it roughly)
25g chopped candied ginger
200g jaggery, grated
pinch of salt
Prepare a sheet pan with a parchment paper lining. Combine all ingredients except coconut in a heavy bottomed pot. Stir until it becomes a smooth paste and starts to simmer. Add in the coconut, and cook to 146℃. Remove from heat. Working quickly, drop teaspoon sized drops of the mixture onto your prepared pan, and allow to cool. When the mixture is just cool enough to handle, roll the drops into balls. Enjoy plain or enrobe in tempered chocolate.
Give the recipe a try and tell us what you think!