I was a little worried about working with the coconuts and wasn’t sure how much fighting it would take to poke their eyes and then bust them open. It actually wasn’t difficult. For each one, I used a pick and a hammer to make holes in the eyes, and I let the coconut juice drain out by setting it on a strainer over a measuring pitcher. Then, I covered the coconut with a towel and whacked it with a hammer.
When the coconuts are opened, their gorgeous color scheme is revealed. Bright, perfect white is surrounded by a dark, chocolate brown with a lighter, softer brown on the outside. And that is how I became enamored with the coconut. I plan to use this color scheme whenever and wherever I can. The remaining tasks in processing them were more tedious. The broken pieces were baked to cause the flesh to pull away from the shell. The shell was pulled off or pried off. The brown covering was peeled from the outside of the flesh, and the cleaned flesh was peeled into strips which were toasted.
Moving on to the rest of the salad, I chose to use only half of the specified amount of sugar syrup. I prefer the taste of fruit without any added sugar, and the orange and pineapple delivered plenty of natural sweetness. However, because the sugar syrup was simmered with ginger, I wanted to include some for that flavor. The fruits I used were: orange, pineapple, papaya, pluot, kiwi, and strawberry. The recipe also calls for shredded sweetened coconut which I skipped. I’d like to point out that the flavor of fresh coconut is much, much better than the bagged, sweetened stuff. That cloying, whangy, coconutty thing is nowhere to be found in the mild, warm nuttiness of fresh coconut.
The last item in the preparation is the whipped cream. Amaretto was to be added to the cream, but I had none so I used rum instead. Of course, I had rum. Just thinking about this combination of ginger, pineapple, lots of other fruit, fresh coconut, whipped cream, and rum provided a mental, tropical getaway. Eating that combination from a coconut bowl made me feel the sand between my toes. And, now I have left-over coconut juice and toasted, fresh coconut.