These dainty white or pink pralines are peculiar to Creole confections and are much sought after by visitors to New Orleans.
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
4 cups freshly-grated coconut
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
Use a copper or other heavy saucepan. Put sugar into the saucepan with the water and let it boil well. When it begins to form a syrup, remove it from the heat and stir in the grated coconut. Mix thoroughly and return the pan to the heat. Be careful to stir the mixture constantly from the time you add the coconut. Cook it for 2 to 3 minutes; it will begin to bubble and should have reached the thread stage on a candy thermometer. This will be sufficient cooking if you wish the pralines to be light and flaky. Add the coloring, if using, just before taking the mixture from the heat.
Have ready a wet marble slab or buttered platter. Take a kitchen spoon and use it to drop spoonsful of the mixture onto the slab or platter, spreading them out with a fork until they form neat round cakes about 1/4 inch thick and 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Let them dry, then take a knife and gently raise them from the slab or dish.