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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies

If you are not a regular visitor to my blog or a friend of mine, then you probably don't know what a fan I am of Deb Perelman.  She was the first to capture my interest in the world of food blogs and was an inspiration for doing my own.  I have made so many of her recipes and her adaptations of recipes - so many of which have become regulars of mine.  I have already posted a number of them on this site, but there will be many more to come.  Even when I try desperately to branch out, I find myself staring at a Deb Perelman post.  For example, when I had the urge to find cookie recipes using coconut, I had a specific idea in mind.  I wanted the coconut to be fine so it would be texturely unnoticeable (because Jim hates coconut due to its texture.)  I figured a shortbread or sugar cookie would be the best bet, but set out to find some options using food blog searches and trying some different food sites.  I ended up where I probably should have begun my search.  This recipe is exactly what I had in mind and it came out exactly as I imagined it would.  They taste buttery and coconutty.  As I was making them, I felt like I was in Hawaii.  All I could smell from start to finish was toasted coconut.  Yum!  In the future, I may attempt this with some macadamia nuts thrown in.  How could that not be good???

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
from Smitten Kitchen adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2004

This recipe produced only 18 cookies for me.  (I think my 3-inch cookies cutters were 50% bigger than the ones used in the original recipe.)

1/2 cup (about 1.5 ounces) unsweetened shredded (I used flaked) coconut*
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (3/4 teaspoon if using sweetened coconut*)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spread the coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 4 minutes until golden (the recipe called for 8, but mine were done after 4.)  Remove from the oven and cool completely.  Using a coffee/spice grinder, grind the coconut until coarsely ground.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat until well combined.  Add the salt and vanilla and combine.  Add the flour in two batches and combine.  Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to two days.

Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for a while before rolling.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick.  Cut out your cookies with your preferred choice of cookie cutter.  Gather up your scraps, roll out again, cut out more cookies and continue this process until you have no more dough remaining.

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.)

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.)

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