Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rose-Scented Coconut Squares (Topra Paak) Recipe

This is a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day. It is sugary sweet, smells like roses and pink! It is also ideal for sweethearts with food allergies or restrictions (it is gluten, dairy, egg and nut free).

I remember making this confection as a child with my dad. He grew up on the Indian Ocean in Dar es Salaam, the port city of Tanzania. Much of the coastal cuisine he grew up with contained coconut meat or milk since palm trees were ubiquitous. In the coming months you’ll see other recipes from his childhood featured on this blog – watch for Coconut Chicken Curry in March.

The last time I made these squares, I accidentally used sweetened coconut. The sugar syrup crystallized around the already sugary coconut and was too saccharine – even for me…

Makes 32 squares


1 pound unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
3 teaspoons rose water or 1 teaspoon rose extract
1 teaspoon cardamom
red food coloring


1. Boil sugar and water until the syrup is slightly thick and reduced by approximately half.
2. Add the coconut and mix well. Add rose flavoring and cardamom, and mix well.
3. Slowly add red food coloring, one drop at a time, until the mixture is light pink color.
4. Press into an 8 x 8 inch baking pan and cool for 30 minutes.
5. Cut into squares or diamonds and let cool completely.

Variations for this sweet abound. For a richer, more fudgy square you can use milk or condensed milk instead of water. You can also decorate the top with pistachios, almonds, poppy seeds or edible silver paper. I prefer mine unadorned. You can also use a different food color. I would suggest green – perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.


1228 said...

Hi Aly,
These are such pretty things. I'm looking forward to trying out some of your recipes soon and am so happy you started this blog. I actually bought chocolate and cream to make the chocolate chili truffles, only to find out that my body has suddenly turned against chocolate in the last couple weeks. It's practically a calamity- but your recipes may inspire me to push through it!

uiyui said...
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Anonymous said...

thanks for this fantastic blog
i will be making a lot of these here soon for majlises.
ahsante sana mungu aku bariki sana wee na familia yako