Perfect for topping frosted cakes, coconut macaroons or adding to chocolate cookies – toasted coconut flakes, both sweetened and unsweetened, always lend a unique tropical flavour brought out by the toasting process. Toasting them also changes the texture a bit, making them more substantial and crispy around the edges, instead of chewy. (Toasting is ideal if you’re mixing them into cookies or cake mixes. It ensures that the flakes don’t soften too much during the baking process.)
There are two main effective methods- the oven and stove top. Both are simple and produce the same result, but require constant watchfulness, as the flakes are delicate and burn easily.
The Oven Method
Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees. (You may want to stick with 325 if your oven burns food placed on the higher racks.) Line a baking sheet (one with raised edges, if you have one handy) with tin foil and spread the coconut flakes evenly, making sure they aren’t too layered atop each other. Place the sheet on one of the three highest racks and check constantly as it bakes. Because of the natural oils in the coconut flakes, they heat and bake very quickly, sometimes in as little as three minutes. After you hear them start to sizzle and they appear drier on the surface, flip the flakes onto the opposite side until toasted evenly. They should ultimately appear a faint brown around the edges.
Note: This method may also be used in a toaster oven. However, be sure to bake them on the lower rack.
The Stovetop Method
The stove top method is just as easy as the oven method. Simply heat the coconut flakes in an uncovered dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Do not grease or oil the skillet – it will ruin the taste and texture of the flakes. The flakes will cook in under five minutes, with constant stirring.
After the flakes have been toasted, dry them on a paper towel and allow them to cool. Once they are room temperature and the oils have solidified, you may then add them to your recipe. It’s important to complete the cooling process, as the hotness of the flakes can melt into the surfaces of frosted baked goods, instead of sitting on top.
Enjoy the added tropical flavour and healthy fats that toasted coconut flakes add to your recipes!