Any combination of summer or tropical fruits is delicious in this sweet, gingery salad. Serve it in individual bowls or goblets if you don't want to use split coconuts. Pick coconuts that are free of moisture around the "eyes." They should be heavy with liquid -- you can hear it when you shake the fruit.
- 1 3-inch piece (2 ounces) fresh ginger
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 coconuts
- 2 plums, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
- 2 nectarines, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
- 2 kiwis, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch wedges
- 1/2 pint blackberries
- 1/4 pineapple, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (or 1/2 papaya, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes)
- 3 oranges, peeled, pith removed, and cut into sections
- 1 3/4 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons amaretto (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice ginger into 1/8-inch rounds. Place ginger slices, granulated sugar, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer; stir to dissolve sugar. Continue to simmer until mixture tastes strongly of ginger, about 20 minutes. Strain, and transfer ginger syrup to refrigerator to chill.
Pierce one of the soft coconut eyes with a screwdriver or ice pick. Drain the liquid, and discard. Repeat with remaining coconuts. Wrap a coconut in a kitchen towel; twist the ends of the towel, and gather them to form a handle. Bang the coconut against the floor until it cracks in half. Repeat with remaining coconuts.
Use the two most imperfect halves to make the shavings for garnish. Place these halves, flesh side down, on a baking sheet; place in oven. Bake about 20 minutes, until coconut flesh begins to pull away from shell. Remove from the oven, and let cool 5 minutes. Pry the coconut flesh away from shell in pieces that are as large as possible. Using a Japanese mandoline or a vegetable peeler, shave coconut into long strips. Place shavings in an even layer on a baking sheet. Return to oven; toast until golden around the edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss plums, nectarines, kiwis, blackberries, pineapple, and oranges with 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut and the reserved ginger syrup.
Place cream, confectioners' sugar, and amaretto, if using, in a chilled mixing bowl. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Place remaining coconut halves in bowls. Place 2 tablespoons of remaining shredded coconut and a dollop of whipped amaretto cream into the bottom of each coconut half. Spoon fruit mixture and syrup into coconut halves; top each with another dollop of cream. Garnish with a handful of toasted coconut. Serve.