Words and images by Reagan.
So, Dana suggested I try out a limones rellenos de coco recipe because I love Frida Kahlo and apparently Kahlo loved these. (Sidebar rant: I can’t back this claim up. Any search for limones rellenos de coco and Kahlo inevitably leads to the same “it is said to be Frida Kahlo’s favourite” or “I heard Frida Kahlo loved these” which means no one has any real idea whether it’s true. I suspect someone mentioned it once and it has travelled around the internet like a game of telephone ever since. My rusty old academic training HATES that, so if anyone has a reliable source that can back up that Kahlo really did love this treat, let me know!).
First things first, what the heck are limones rellenos de coco? Delicious little candied limes, hollowed out and filled with coconut. A little online research led me to Fany Gerson’s recipe, from her cookbook My Sweet Mexico. Oh, and hey, I just happened to have all the ingredients in the house. Well, not in the quantities the recipe uses (what Canadian home has 12 limes lying around?). But I had 1 ½ limes and an innate tendency to go rogue on recipes, regardless of past failures. Baby E was napping and I felt like doing something other than folding laundry, so Dana, challenge accepted!
Not one to be deterred by 10 ½ missing limes, I figured I could just scale down the recipe. Also, my 1 ½ limes were already halved so who knows how those were going to boil down. Maybe they would taste fine and look as pretty as the ones in Gerson’s photo, except sweet little semi-sphere cups of coconut filling instead of cute green balls.
After the first lime boiling, I realized why the recipe calls for green food colouring. Lime rinds turn a sickly yellow-green when cooked. I didn’t have green food colouring so I decided to think about “natural” alternatives I might have on hand while I scraped out the insides. And boy, did I have time to think! Gerson’s simple instruction, “Make a small incision in the top of each lime with a sharp paring knife and carefully scrape out the flesh, making sure you don’t tear the rind; discard the filling,” belies the trouble these three little half limes caused me. “Scraping out” the inside of the limes was a giant pain in the A and took me half an hour to clean out just three halves. I can’t imagine doing it to 12 limes through a tiny slit. Maybe there is a learning curve? Anyway, after trying any number of proper kitchen tools, I ended up using my fingernail so I knew early on there was no way I’d be serving these to anyone.
Next, it was time to boil boil boil those limes some more to get the bitterness out. While resting my aching fingers between scraping the limes, I Googled natural green food colouring substitutes. Spinach and green apple were recommended. I didn’t have apples but I did have spinach and green pears. So when it was time to start candying the limes, I went really off-script, throwing in spinach, pear peels and blueberries (why not? Blue should mix with the yellow limes to make green, right?). Results: bluish inside. No effect on the outside of the peel. Hey, I’m a Fine Arts major, not a chef.
So with the lime rinds finally candied and drying, it was time to make the coconut filling. I actually had the right amounts for this part of the recipe and decided it was time to fall in line so I made enough filling to make 12 limones rellenos de coco. This step was by far the easiest part of the whole endeavour and it turned out great! I stuffed the limes and ate the rest of the filling straight out of the pot. The coconut filling is delicious and tastes like the centre of an Almond Joy. Maybe I’ll make it again sometime and coat it in chocolate. Oh wait, Hot Pink Apron is already all over that!
All in all, these sad little limones rellenos de coco wannabes tasted not too bad. I’m pretty sure I messed something up with the candying of the limes as they could have used more candy taste (with all my fiddling, should I really be surprised?).
Verdict: too much trouble. I’m glad I only made 1 ½ as 12 would have taken FOREVER (but probably would have tasted better had I followed the recipe more closely). With that said, I would definitely eat them up if someone else made them for me.
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