Friday, November 5, 2010

Coconut Almond Chocolate Cookies

I’m one of those people who thinks they don’t like coconut until they taste something really good that has coconut as a central ingredient. I’m not sure why this is so, except to say that I had some very funky coconut stuff as a kid, where sugar was the star ingredient. Funny how those childhood attitudes about food can take hold. So I still sometimes need to be coaxed into tasting a coconut product. But then when I do, I'm suddenly back to remembering that coconut isn't always sandbagged by an avalanche of sugar and it's got its own particular flavor and texture to behold. Lesson learned. Again.

This is a pretty simple coconut shortbread cookie. I’ve added a touch of almond to enhance the nutty flavor of coconut. The baked cookie then has a brief encounter with coconut’s soul mate, bittersweet chocolate. Very easy and straightforward, free of doubt.

Bench notes:
- Unsweetened coconut usually has the best flavor, but I’m using a sweetened version here because it’s usually what people have easy access to in most places.
- Before coating the cookies with chocolate, I use a pastry brush to eliminate surface crumbs. Then I coat the top and sides and scrape the bottom of the cookie against the rim of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. That will take care of drips and the “feet” that form as a result.
- I rolled each dough packet out to a rectangle a little bigger than 8" x 5" and then cut out 16 2 1/2" x 1" rectangles, measuring the length and then using an old fashioned wooden ruler as a template for the width. But cut cookies into any shape you wish; just be sure they are all the same size for even baking.
- When melting chocolate, always keep the bain marie or water bath on a very low simmer to keep the chocolate from scorching. Stir it gently and remove it from the heat when it is melted.
- Store cookies in an airtight container. They will soften over time.
- If you're a fan of coconut, you might also enjoy Coco au Miel.

Coconut Almond Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies

1 1/2 C flour
1/4 C sliced almonds, plus an additional 2 T for garnish
1 C shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 C sugar
1/2 t salt
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla

4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Toast sliced almonds @ 350 for about 6 – 8 minutes. Watch them closely as they will burn easily. Turn off the oven and let the almonds cool.

Place flour, 1/4 C almonds, coconut, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts and the coconut have been turned into large crumbs.

Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the mixture. Pulse until you see the butter breaking down into pieces about the size of a pea. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and pulse again until the mixture begins to clump around the center of the bowl.

Gather the dough together and divide in half. Flatten each half into a medium sized rectangle and wrap each in plastic. Chill thoroughly. It will keep chilled for 2 days.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Remove one packet of cookie dough and let it warm up slightly at room temperature for a couple of minutes.

Roll the cookie dough out on lightly floured work surface (I use parchment) to a scant 1/4" thickness, keeping it in a rectangle shape. Cut dough into cookies that are 2 1/2” x 1” rectangles. Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 1" apart. Return to the refrigerator while you roll out the next piece of dough. Repeat the process and chill the cookies.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Bake cookies until they just begin to take on some color, about 13 – 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a slow simmering bain marie, making sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate until it is smooth and completely melted. Remove from heat.

Dip a portion of each cookie in the chocolate and scrape the bottom across the rim of the bowl to remove excess. When you’ve done a few, stop for a moment and garnish each with some sliced almonds. Continue until all the cookies are finished. Work as quickly as possible while the chocolate is still quite fluid. You may need to carefully re-warm it to proceed to the final batch.


Audrey said...

These are, like all your creations, so beautiful! And I have some unsweetened coconut. If I were to use it, do you think I should make any changes to the cookie dough?

pastry studio said...

Hi Audrey. Thanks for your good question. I'm sorry that I didn't test this with unsweetened coconut.

I would say that you could probably add about 2 tablespoons of extra sugar and it would be fine, a bit more if you prefer a sweeter cookie and you're using bittersweet chocolate rather than semisweet. But shortbread is typically not a very sweet cookie.

A general word about my pastries and desserts. For the most part, I develop my recipes to achieve the lowest sugar content and the highest flavor. For me, sugar should be more of a back note and not the first thing you taste. I believe the best pastries are those that de-emphasize sweetness in favor of the robust flavor of the other central ingredients. So I tend to walk the fine line between just enough sweetness to satisfy and still find a balance with other fuller flavors. Since sugar is much more than a sweetener - it's also a tenderizer, a browning agent and a preservative - it can be tricky to modify the sugar content. But I encourage you to amend according to your own personal palate.

Hope you enjoy!

LimeCake said...

These are so lovely and delicate! They'd make really nice Christmas gifts!

Jen said...

Thank you for another delightful recipe! I recently made a riff on these to much fanfare. Definitely one for the win pile.

pastry studio said...

Jen, so glad you enjoyed and grateful for you feedback. This is baking season, to be sure!

TESOL certification said...

This is a great treat and ideal to serve during the christmas season. my nieces and nephews will definitely thank me for this delightful treat!

Stephanie B said...

This recipe is delicious! I made this for my cookie exchange and the girls loved it. Thank you!

Stephanie B said...

Delicious cookies; I made this for my cookie exchange party, and the girls love it. Thank you!