There is little more that I love on this planet than the flavor of coconut [close your ears chocolate], and one of my favorite confections is macaroons. Just my luck - there is a Jamaican version and they are delicious! Omar’s grandmother, Ms. Phyllis (Mama), has been sending them to us in America for years. I’m told by Omar that hers are the best. Before we moved to Jamaica I had no choice but to believe him, but since moving to Jamaica I had the opportunity to try someone else’s. I also watched this youtube video on how to make them. I am now ready to state that Mama’s Coconut Drops are far superior. I asked her to make some for this blog and she agreed. For those of you who are lucky enough to meet Mama you’ll appreciate why this was one of my favorite cooking experiences. Here’s what happened…
She cut a fit (dried) coconut into chunks before she came to Woolery Kitchen. Omar vehemently argues that her chunks are precise and uniform which is why her drops are the best. I have to agree that the size of the chunks are very important because they are basically the entire confection.
She boiled the cut coconut, grated ginger and a little salt for about an hour. She warns that the pot must be a heavy pot, like a Dutch pot, because it needs to hold up to a really high temperature. This is where she told me I could go take a nap if I wanted (lol).
After the coconut concoction was boiled to her satisfaction she periodically added sugar. The ratio of coconut to sugar is important. Too much sugar and it can overpower the coconut. When I asked her how much sugar she was going to add she told me “enough”.
Next Mama’s husband Mr. Fitzy (Dada) walked into the house with a banana leaf that was as tall as me. This is where the Coconut Drops will be dropped. I guess you could use wax paper, but that seems wack because it’s not traditional or nearly as pretty.
Then Mama says she has to quail the banana leaf. WHAT?!?!?! HOLD UP!!! QUAIL!?!?! What in the world is quailing?
Days later I still had to hit the dictionary to see about this quailing business, and how to spell it for this blog post. Here's what it looks like:
Alright, this is where only the strong survive. It’s an art to know when to drop the drops. There is a very fine line between ready and burnt. You can test a small portion to see if it hardens but true masters, like Mama, just know. This is one of those moments I wish I was recording, but here’s the short story…
- One of us (who will remain nameless) tries to start dropping. Mama says to stop fussing and just wait until she says so.
- We ask if we should turn off the pot. Mama says NO, keep it low and if it starts to get hard before she’s finished then just add a likkle wata (little water).
- She warns us to be careful by saying she doesn’t want to carry anyone to the hospital, because the sugar in the drops will stick to your skin and burn it badly.
- We ask again if it’s time to drop. Mama says no (I think this was just to flex her power), waits a few minutes, then starts dropping like a ninja!
Hopefully one day you will get to taste Mama’s drops.