Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Cookie Jag

Will it ever be Spring in New Jersey? Yeah, sure, we had 90 degree temps about a week ago, but I'm in that "what have you done for me lately?" mode. It was gray, rainy, and chilly today and the forecast is for more of the same for the rest of the week. What's a girl to do? I guess I'll just have to bake!

I go through baking phases, whereby I kind of get in a baking rut. I'll make different items but they are all in the same family of baked goods -- like coffee cakes, or cobblers (in the summer), or mini-cupcakes. Right now, I'm in the cookie phase. I think that's because I'm trying to maintain some sort of fitness regimen and eating one cookie seems much more acceptable than, say, a slice of Coffee Coffee Cake (that is not a typo). Speaking of that Coffee Coffee Cake, I really must make that sometime soon (when I get onto my coffee cake jag) - it is so good. The recipe was in the January 1991 issue of Gourmet and it is one of my tried-and-true, all-time favorites. When Phyllis and I owned I Love Cheesecake, it was a standard on our menu.

Back to the cookies. If you recall, the last post highlighted the wonderful Pain d'amande cookies from Flo Braker and David Leibovitz. These were so good that my husband requested them again. But I needed to try something new so today I also made Toasted Coconut Shortbread, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen (adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2004). You may think this sounds like alot of work - two different cookies in one day - but remember, people, I'm all about easy baking. And both of these recipes are so effortless they could have originated in The Big Easy.

These shortbread are just the ticket when you get that baking itch, but have a million other things on your weekend to-do list. First of all, you toast the coconut which gives your whole house this fabulous coconutty smell; then once the dough is together, you chill it for at least 1 hour (which gives you time for those other chores). You can come back to it anytime within two days. See no pressure, which is the last thing you need on the weekend. From there on in, it's easy-peasy. Roll, slice, bake. Repeat.

These cookies have a wonderfully, rich, buttery flavor. And the coconut taste is just enough. I know some of you don't like coconut texture, but after the coconut is toasted, you grind it up so you don't really get that mouth-feel that coconut-haters hate.

I just noticed how the word "eat" is part of "repeat." You see where I'm going with this, right? Eat. Repeat. Eat. Repeat. Well, they are small...

Toasted Coconut ShortbreadAdapted from Bon Appetit, April 2004 (from Smitten Kitchen)

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 

3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt 

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 1 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. Repeat procedure with remaining dough disk until all of dough is used.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow.. this looks super yummy.. love a couple of 'em with my latte!! Happy Mother's day.


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