Shredded Coconut Is A Slept-On Ingredient For Elevated Boxed Brownies

brownie slice with coconut flakes
brownie slice with coconut flakes - iuliia_n/Shutterstock

Coconut and chocolate go together as well as ... well, coconut and chocolate. It's an exquisitely delicious combination, almost intuitive in its pairing, as any fan of German chocolate cake will tell you. For this reason, you might want to consider adding some sweetened, shredded coconut to your next batch of boxed brownie mix. You'll get that wonderful flavor pairing, as well as a slight coconutty crunch.

Also, it's the easiest thing in the world. Once you make the brownie batter with the boxed mix, eggs, water, and oil, stir in the shredded coconut (we recommend starting with ¾ cup and then adjusting to taste). If you want to go crazy, sprinkle a couple more tablespoons of shredded coconut on top of the batter once it's been poured into the pan and before it's baked. You have a couple of other options, too, because processed coconut takes many forms, be it flaked, dried, or sweetened.

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

Chipped, Shredded, And Flaked Coconut - Oh My!

shredded coconut flakes with coconut shell halves
shredded coconut flakes with coconut shell halves - Enviromantic/Getty Images

Coconuts give us many culinary gifts: There's the water (not to be confused with coconut milk) that's lightly sweet, has a mild coconut flavor, and is nutrient-dense. Then there's the white coconut meat, which can be dried, sweetened, flaked, shredded, or ground into flour. (In decidedly unappetizing botanical terms, coconut meat is the endosperm of the fruit, and coconut water, says the Library of Congress, is its "multinucleate liquid" version yet to coalesce into solid tissue.) Oh, and we also get coconut oil from the meat -- a delicious, high smoke-point fat, indispensable to making a good Thai curry, among other things.

So, what's the difference between flaked and shredded coconut? Mostly, it has to do with size: Coconut flakes tend to be larger (and the stuff called coconut chips are even bigger) than shredded coconut; you can judge with your eyes what you'd like to use in your brownies. The big difference in coconut products lies in their relative dryness and sweetness -- two other factors to consider when you add shredded coconut to your pantry.

How Sweet Coconut Is ... Or Might Be

coconut cake with coffee
coconut cake with coffee - Estudio Originar/Shutterstock

It's important to know the difference between sweetened vs. unsweetened shredded coconut, as each has different cooking properties. Most commercial brands of sweetened shredded coconut soak the product in corn syrup, which also adds moisture. Conversely, unsweetened coconut tends to be drier, and while you might love that slight decrease in sweetness, you'll probably want to soak the stuff in warm water to rehydrate it before using it. (Or you could use coconut water or milk for a flavor boost.) Oh, and you can also find straight-up fresh flaked coconut frozen in many Asian grocery stores.

So much of these coconut variations have to do with their intended use. Do you want to dress up the outside of a coconut cake? Cover it in the larger flakes. Are you going for a savory dish like coconut shrimp? The unsweetened stuff will serve you better. Are you interested in toasting the shredded coconut flakes? The sugars and added moisture in the sweetened variety make it caramelize more quickly. This is why we think adding sweetened, shredded coconut flakes to a boxed brownie mix is the way to go: They'll help keep the batter moist while toasting beautifully on top. That's a win-win situation.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.