Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Hearts

It's finally Wednesday, meaning that we're almost at the weekend!  Finally!  My weekend plans include tuning in for the season premiere of Orange is the New Black on Friday (!!!) and heading over to Governor's Ball on Saturday for a day full of awesome music and awesome food.  I only got into watching Orange a few weeks ago, and as soon as I finished the first episode, my TV-binge watching spree began.  Thankfully, my GRE was already over with, so I had nothing holding me back from watching the show in its entirety.  I'm so excited to see what happens on Friday!  Perhaps more exciting is Gov Ball on Saturday- the line up on Saturday has a few of my favorite bands, but what I'm secretly extra excited for are the food trucks that will be there as well (it's the foodie in me...).  Some of my favorite trucks will be there, like Cool Haus and Korilla Barbecue, and some of my favorite restaurants and quick bite places will also be there (hellooo Pommes Frites!).  There's something about food trucks that I just love- they're casual, inventive and creative, and pretty much always will guarantee a delicious meal.  

While I love simple and casual fare, I also love when things look and taste refined and delicate.  Sometimes I want an overload of flavors in whatever I'm eating, and I want it to be the kind of meal where I will end up questioning myself for having it.  Other times, I need something simple, straightforward and delicious.  These Toasted Coconut Shortbread Hearts are just one small example of something straightforward, uncomplicated, and truly delicious (best segue ever, right?).

Truth be told, these cookies are not the result of anything overly deep or emotional, or intense feelings of desire for simple cookies.  I just happened to have some extra time two weekends ago, and I figured that I should probably take advantage of  that rare occurrence to bake something extra.  Nothing wrong with trying to work ahead of schedule right?  Since  decided to just bake an extra batch of cookies completely on a whim, I didn't really have an exact idea of what I wanted to make.  I tried skimming through my recipe archives to see if anything seemed like it was "missing" or hadn't been posted in a while, but I couldn't figure something out.  I knew I had some coconut in my pantry that needed to be used up, so I decided to just make the first non-coconut macaroon recipe that crossed my way, hoping that I would somehow get lucky and end up picking a good recipe.  
I got lucky, and this recipe is a real winner. 

These cookies come together super duper quick.  It only takes a few minutes to mix all the ingredients up in a stand mixer, and then once that's done, the dough gets placed in the fridge to chill.  This will make it easy to roll out the cookie dough later on.  The cookies are then cut out and baked.  I like to chill my cut out cookies in the fridge for a few minutes before baking them, because I feel like this ensures that they will hold their shape better as they bake.  If this is not a concern for you, then simply go ahead and bake them right away.  Nothing is set in stone here!  Same goes for the chocolate finishing touch at the end.  I had some bittersweet and white chocolate that I decided to melt to dip the baked shortbread in once it had cooled, and a sprinkling of toasted coconut on top finished the cookies off.  I only dipped about half of my batch of cookies in chocolate, because once I tasted a plain shortbread cookie, I knew I had to leave a few in their natural, unadulterated state.  This way I could enjoy a pure buttery coconut cookie and an Almond Joy-esque cookie filled with rich butter to my heart's content.  

These shortbread cookies are rich and buttery like any other shortbread cookie, but are also simple in flavor and delicate in appearance.  They're the cookie you have with tea or coffee, and are the perfect cookie to sneak bites of every time you walk through the kitchen throughout the day.  I love the flavor of coconut in just about everything, but there's something extra special about toasted coconut.  The flavor is heightened and intensified, and I just love it; I actually had a hard time stopping myself from picking at the bowl of toasted coconut as I mixed up the other cookie ingredients!  The coconut flavor is definitely noticeable in these shortbread cookies, so if you somehow don't happen to like coconut, then these cookies are probably not for you.  If you are like me and love coconut in just about everything, then I have a feeling you may like these.  Just sayin'.  Enjoy!

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Hearts

recipe from Annie's Eats, originally from Bon Appetit


For the Cookies

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 scant cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour

For the Finishing Touch (optional)

bittersweet and white chocolate, chopped and melted
toasted coconut


Add the coconut to a medium skillet set over medium heat.  Cook the coconut, stirring occasionally, until the coconut is lightly browned and toasted, taking care that it doesn't get burned.  Remove the coconut from the heat, and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Beat in the salt and vanilla.  With the mixer running on low speed, mix in the flour until it's just been incorporated.  Mix in the toasted coconut.  Gather the dough into a disc and flatten slightly. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let the dough chill in the refrigerator until firm, about one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut out cookie shapes and arrange on the prepared baking sheets.  Gather and re-roll the scraps as needed, cutting out as many cookies as you can.  Refrigerate the baking sheets with cut-out cookies for ten minutes.

Bake the cookies straight from the refrigerator until the cookies are light golden brown and crisp, about 18 minutes.  The actual baking time may vary depending on the size and shape of the cookie cutter you used, so keep an eye on them!  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

If desired, dip half of each cookie into melted bittersweet or white chocolate, and top with a sprinkling of toasted coconut. Let the chocolate-dipped cookies set completely on waxed paper.  Enjoy!

Cookie yield will vary depending on the size and shape of the cookie cutter used

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