Monday, September 14, 2009

Sofia's Kitchen - Coconut rice fingers

Yesterday was a wonderful day for many reasons.

I got to see my grandmother after her return from her 3 month holiday in Greece. I also got to catch up with my beloved aunts, uncles and cousins. But most importantly I got to watch and eat the results of my grandmother's recipe. For the first day of a new tradition, it really was wonderful.

We started off Sofia's Kitchen, installment 1, with a delicious sweet treat from her past in Greece.
Coconut rice fingers are finger long tubes of crisp filo pastry filled with unctuous, coconut rice as creamy as creamy can be which are then drizzled with a sticky lemon sugar syrup before being dusted with snowflakes of dessicated coconut. Sweet but not overly so, perfect portions that leave you licking your fingers with glee.

The story behind the dessert, retold my Aunt Helen:

Mum was in the city with a friend (Evlambia) and bought a dessert from the Zaharaplastio (Sweets Store).. liking the dessert she purchased, she asked the baker how he made it – he replied he could not tell her as it was a secret.. is that so my mother thought, determined to find out how it was made she started to decipher what ingredients were used as she continued to eat the dessert. She came home and made the dessert according to how she thought it was done and what she thought the ingredients were according to her taste buds.. right or wrong – her taste buds came up with a wonderful recipe.. one we all love and enjoy and call Coconut rice fingers. This original recipe of mums will continue to live on from generation to generation, as on Sunday 13th September 2009, we all had the privilege of mum showing us how it was done, which was recorded and noted done for future reference.

With my gorgeous, little Yia Yia Sofia.

Coconut rice fingers

makes around 25

INGREDIENTS: (you may have left over rice depending on how many filo sheets there are in your packet)
1 cup medium grain rice
4 cups water
pinch salt
1 cup milk
¾ cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut (also extra 1 cup later for topping)
1 packet filo pastry
250G unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 lemon juice and peel

Preheat oven to 200C fan forced.

Melt butter in pan and place aside till needed.

Rinse rice until water runs clear and boil in water with a pinch of salt over medium heat. Once water has reduced to about half the consistency, add milk and boil a little more. Add sugar, vanilla sugar and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and mix well. Add the coconut and mix well. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture until rice is blended with all other ingredients. Take off stove and set aside to cool.

Open filo pastry out on a bench and cut down the centre vertically, to make two parts. Brush two sheets with the melted butter and lay on top of one another. Cover rest of filo with damp cloth until required. Place one heaped tablespoon of the cooled rice mixture at one end of the filo and roll like a cigar until mixture covered, fold the edges in to avoid the rice mixture spilling out and continue to roll till the end of the pastry. Place on a lightly buttered tepsi (large round tray with 3cm edge). Continue this until all the filo pastry is used. Should fill one 40cm tepsi, approximately 25 fingers. Place in preheated oven for 15-20min or until golden brown in color.

While the fingers are cooking, make your syrup by boiling the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Once boiled and water reduced add the lemon juice and the rind and boil until liquid thickens to a watery honey consistency. Set aside to cool.

Once fingers are golden in color, take out of oven and immediately drizzle syrup over each finger with a tablespoon (syrup should be cool). Sprinkle coconut on top of fingers as syrup is being absorbed. Serve once have cooled down.


  1. What a lovely story behind the recipe. Its so nice to be able not only to enjoy time with our family but the recipes that cling to our heritage!! These rice fingers look and sound fantastic, Ive not had anything like!

  2. These look so delicate. Really beautiful!

  3. thanks for sharing such a special family recipe. :D

  4. Lovely story - and the coconut rice fingers sound delicious!

  5. The rice is cooling off, and the phyllo is thawing... I'm looking forward to the end product, I tasted the rice and if that is any indication of how this is going to turn out, I bet it will become a favorite in my house as well... Thanks for sharing your family recipe!