Mứt Dừa (Candied Coconut Ribbons)

2 Coconuts
2 cups Sugar
1 bag Vanilla Sugar
1 tablespoon Salt, for soaking the coconut ribbons
1 teaspoon Beet, for red color, optional
(click here for natural beet coloring recipe)
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder, for yellow color, optional
1/3 teaspoon Pandan Extract, for green color, optional 
Preparing Coconut
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
Using an oyster knife or a screw driver pierce holes in 2 of the three eyes and pour out the juice.  
You can use the coconut juice to make Thịt Trứng Kho Tàu or just drink it if it's sweet. Use a meat tenderizer or a hammer to crack the coconut open. 
Put the coconut on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. The heat will loosen the meat from the shell.
Remove coconut from oven. Holding it with a dish towel, use a small knife or an oyster knife to pry out the meat.   Try to keep the pieces as large as possible.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave off the brown skin from the white coconut meat. Rinse the meat to remove any excess bits of brown skin. use a slicer or a sharp knife, slice or cut the meat into thin ribbons of at least 2 inches long.  Keep coconut ribbons in salt and water bowl. 

Mixing Coconut Ribbons
Rinse and drain coconut ribbons.  In a large bowl, combine coconut ribbons and the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Let it sit until sugar dissolved.  If you want to make coconut ribbons in  4 different colors, divide the mixed coconut in a four separate bowls and mix the colors to your liking.
Simmering Coconut Ribbons
In a large pan, add ribbons and bring heat to high. When the sugar starts bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly to expose the ribbons evenly to the syrup. They will gradually become silvery and soften.  The ribbons will soon turn white, become dry looking and stiffen. Keep stirring. The sugar will first cling to the ribbons and then flake off in white, sandy bits. When the ribbons are covered by a dry, sandy sugar film, they are done. 
Remove from the stove and let the candied coconut ribbons cool completely.  Transfer the cooled ribbons to an airtight container and discard the powdery sugar.