Have I EVER got an international delight for you, sweeties.
In the one corner, we have pumpkin spice. Do you think it's ultra nice? Or are you one of the pumpkin spice haters? I had an interesting conversation thread on the subject on my facebook page a little while back. Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle. I can get down with pumpkin spice on occasion, but I feel that the ubiquity of it has bred a lot of really crappy specimens of sweets that give the flavor a bad name. Or, to give examples: pumpkin whoopie pies from BAKED = YES. Pumpkin spice latte from a machine in 7-11 that does not actually contain pumpkin? NO.
In the second corner, we have beijinhos de coco. These are a Brazilian confection. It translates as "little coconut kisses". I mean, you can probably already see why I love them because isn't that the cutest name? But in addition to an adorable name, they're delicious. As many Brazilian treats do, they feature sweetened condensed milk, which equals Delicious Results almost always. They're a simple confection, rich in coconut and sweet milk; kind of like a cousin to brigadeiros, which are a way different flavor experience but pretty similar in terms of construction, just different components.
So for this recipe, I've combined these two flavor sensations to make an adorable fall-flavored treat: pumpkin beijinhos de coco. I really don't know why pumpkin and coconut aren't more of a thing: they taste great together. Pumpkin has that nice earthiness, and coconut is rich and sweet. Great combo! Spice makes 'em extra nice, and sweetened condensed milk makes them incredibly addictive.
Disclosure: Eagle Brand sent me a free coupon for the sweetened condensed milk I used in this post. I was happy to receive it because I have always enjoyed their sweetened condensed milk, and not paying for it is cool with me. Other than that I was not compensated and the recipe is my own.
Pumpkin beijinhos de coco
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk - I used Eagle brand
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- pinch salt
- Spices to taste
- 3 cups coconut flakes
- To coat: 1-2 more cups coconut flakes, plus another pinch of salt
Combine the sweetened condensed milk and pumpkin puree in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add a pinch of salt; I add a pretty GENEROUS pinch of salt (at least a little is NECESSARY).
If you're into the whole pumpkin spice thing, add some spices. I added a good shake of apple pie spice because it's quite similar to pumpkin pie spice, actually. Give a stir to combine then add 3 cups of coconut flakes and stir again.
Heat over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir pretty frequently, unless you relish the idea of burnt bits in your confections and scorched bottoms on your pan. I'll tell you the truth though, I always end up with a few scorched bits because I always get distracted and walk away for about 10 seconds too long. #truth
Anyway, back to your recipe. What you're looking for with the 10 minutes of cooking is for the mixture to thicken and to reduce some of the moisture, so that they can roll into nice little candies later. So go ahead and set your timer for 10 minutes, but really, be looking for the mixture to become more solid, almost like the texture of a thick German chocolate cake coconut frosting.
Remove from heat, and let cool to warm room temperature. You want it still warm so that it's pliable, but not so hot that it burns your hands.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining coconut flakes with a pinch of salt (WE ALWAYS NEED MORE SALT) and give it a mix to fluff it up and remove clumps.
Using slightly wet hands (to keep from sticking), form small handfuls of the pumpkin mixture into balls. Then, roll them in the coconut flakes to coat. Place on a sheet lined with parchment paper. Keep on rolling until you've used it all (I got about 20 good sized ones). Place in the fridge so that they can set. The pumpkin will keep them from getting as firm as traditional plain coconut kisses, so I suggest keeping them in the fridge until ready to serve for the best texture.