This Costa Rican Bolitas de Coco - Coconut Balls recipe results in bites of crushed biscuits, sweetened condensed milk, butter and coconut for an easy little sweet treat that truly is ‘Pura Vida’ or ‘Pure life.’ Have you been lucky enough to visit Central America friends?
Traveling to Costa Rica several years ago made such an indelible mark that it’s still one of the best countries I’ve been lucky enough to visit so any chance to ‘re-visit’ with bites of this country are grasped with both hands.
Why you'll love this
Sweet caramel with desiccated coconut strewn throughout making for a delightful pair!
Overall, this doesn’t take long to bring together, though there is chill time to finish making your coconut balls.
Serves a bunch
The original recipe said you can get 12 coconut ball servings, but if everyone only ate 1, you could easily feed over 20 people because this recipe goes a long way!
Ingredients and substitutions for Coconut Balls
- Sweetened condensed milk: The base of our coconut balls, this is what gives our caramels that flavor and firm texture once it has been heated.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is used here though salted could easily be substituted in place.
- Desiccated coconut: Desiccated is easiest to source in many places and makes nicer coconut balls, though you could substitute with shredded coconut.
- Biscuits: These biscuits are made with wheat flour and are similar to digestives or graham crackers which work perfectly as substitutes in equal measure.
See recipe card for quantities.
Equipment needed to make this
Saucepan: To make your coconut balls, you’ll need a small to medium saucepan.
Candy thermometer: A candy thermometer helps you achieve the right temperature for your coconut balls to firm up.
Wooden spoon or spatula: For your caramel to cook consistently without burning, you’ll need one of these to keep stirring.
Bowl: For your caramel to chill, you’ll need to pour it into a bowl and set in your fridge to cool.
FAQ's for the best Coconut Balls
What if I cannot source Galletas Maria biscuits?
Galletas Maria biscuits are wheat biscuits that are plain in flavor meaning some great substitutions that are similar in flavor and consistency are graham crackers or digestive biscuits.
How can I avoid my sweetened condensed milk burning?
Stir stir and stir some more, you want a low-medium simmer heat where the sweetened condensed milk is thickening up but isn't sticking or burning to the base of your saucepan, so stir until it no longer sticks to the edge of your saucepan and has turned a more caramel color.
More coconut recipes you’ll enjoy
Salted Caramel Coconut Truffles
How to make Coconut Balls:
Place the condensed milk, butter and 150 grams / 1 ½ cups of the coconut into a saucepan on medium heat.
Stir constantly until the butter has melted and the temperature has reached 100C/ mixture has thickened and is no longer sticking to the edges of the saucepan.
Pour the mixture into a bowl so as to ensure it doesn’t keep cooking.
Toss in the crushed biscuits and stir until fully combined.
Place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
Remove and roll into balls.
Place the remaining desiccated coconut into a small shallow bowl or plate and roll a coconut ball through to coat fully.
Set aside and continue until all your coconut balls are coated.
Place into the fridge for 1 hour.
Remove and serve alongside a cup of your favorite hot beverage.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: + chill time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: Makes 26 balls 1x
- Category: Candy
- Cuisine: Costa Rican
This Coconut Balls recipe gives us coconutty caramel truffles that include crushed biscuits for a candy that has you reaching for a second.
2 x 397 gram cans / 2 ⅔ cups sweetened condensed milk
113 grams / 4 ounces butter
190 grams / 2 cups desiccated coconut
210 grams / 15 Galletas Maria biscuits (see FAQ’s), crushed
- Place the condensed milk, butter and 150 grams / 1 ½ cups of the coconut into a saucepan on medium heat.
- Stir constantly until the butter has melted and the temperature has reached 100C/ mixture has thickened and is no longer sticking to the edges of the saucepan.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl so as to ensure it doesn’t keep cooking.
- Toss in the crushed biscuits and stir until fully combined.
- Place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
- Remove and roll into balls.
- Place the remaining desiccated coconut into a small shallow bowl or plate and roll a coconut ball through to coat fully.
- Set aside and continue until all your coconut balls are coated.
- Place into the fridge for 1 hour.
- Remove and serve alongside a cup of your favorite hot beverage.
- Calories: 218 calories per ball
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