Tuesday, February 10, 2009

toasted coconut shortbread

toasted coconut shortbread hearts

There is a notable, sad absence of recipes that involve coconut on this site and it’s like totally my husband’s fault. The boy thinks he doesn’t like coconut and every time I mention something that involves it he says “maybe you can make something chocolate instead?” But he’s wrong, no really, he is. I believe that he does like coconut, he just doesn’t like that shredded, hard to chew stuff people stick to the outside of otherwise-tasty frosting. It’s not the flavor that bugs him. And so I set out to prove him wrong by making these cookies, where the coconut is toasted and then ground and you get all of the flavor but not of the annoyingly papery texture. Alex was adamantly opposed, so I promised to either dip or fill them with chocolate or raspberry or even better, filled with raspberry and dipped in chocolate and do you know what happened?

coconut shortbread

None of this was necessary. Because I WAS RIGHT! He loves these cookies and he does love coconut when it’s not gagging and leathery and did I mention I WAS RIGHT? Because, well, I probably have one or three or a dozen times this week. I’m really fun and mature like that.

toasted coconut shortbread hearts

This isn’t to say that you couldn’t make these into sandwich cookies or even cuter, linzer-style hearts if you have two size heart cookie cutters and want a little belly of jam to show through on the top cookie. You could dip a corner of the cookie in melted white or dark chocolate, or both. I even thought about adding lime zest to go with the tropical theme, as lime and coconut were made to be together. But promise me that before you do anything to them, you will try them as they are. Because they’re amazing: crispy, buttery, nutty, fragrant and perfectly salted, just the right amount to bring all the flavors into perfect harmony.

toasted coconut shortbread hearts

Chocolate! Like I was going to leave you chocolate fanatics hanging — it is Valentine’s Day week after all. I created an index of all of the chocolate-heavy recipes on this site. Of course, were I to have put together every recipe with any amount of chocolate on this site, well, I may as well have duplicated the entire archives. Instead, I focused on confections where chocolate is the main attraction, or the kinds of things the chocoholic in your life dreams about. [Chocolate Index]

One year ago: Seven Yolk Pasta

Toasted Coconut Shortbread
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2004

The original recipe was double this size, yielding six dozen cookies. I halved it.

1/2 cup (about 1.5 ounces) unsweetened shredded coconut*
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature**
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (Updated: for unsweetened coconut, the smaller amount; sweetened, the larger amount)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until coconut is light golden, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Cool completely, then grind in a coffee grinder, food processor or blender until coarsely ground.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Mix in salt and vanilla. Beat in flour in 2 additions. Stir in toasted coconut. Gather dough together, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough disk on lightly floured work surface to scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1 3/4- to 2-inch-diameter cookie cutters, cut dough into rounds. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather dough scraps and reroll; cut out additional cookies.

Bake cookies until light golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 1 week.)

* I couldn’t find unsweetened, so I used sweetened and dialed back the sugar by 2 tablespoons.
** If you’re looking for an excuse to splurge on the good butter, shortbread is it. You will absolutely appreciate the extra flavor as it shows up in this cookie.


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