Nothing beats the flavor and texture of fresh
coconut. To open up a coconut, I take a corkscrew or a hammer and a clean screw
and test the three soft spots on the husk of the coconut. When I find the softest
spot, I dig into the husk to make a hole to drain out the liquid. I then put
the coconut on a sheet tray and roast it in a hot oven until it cracks. Right
out of the oven, I wrap it in a dish towel and bang it against the ground to
break it up more. While the coconut is still warm, it is easy to peel away the
husk and the dark brown skin to reveal the white meat. This is good stuff. It
peels into elegant strips with a vegetable peeler, which I then like to lightly
toast. But, clearly, it is a process.
So when fresh coconut is out of reach, dried
coconut is the next best thing. I use sweetened coconut here, which I toast and
then grind into the flour to create a lovely, textured dough. You can use
unsweetened if you prefer, but you may have to increase the sugar in the
recipe. To shape, I like to pipe these cookies a little larger than the other
spritz cookies in this chapter to create a dramatic effect.
RECIPE: Toasted Coconut Spritz Cookies
Makes approximately 50 cookies
1 1⁄2 cups shredded
2 1⁄4 cups unbleached
1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted
butter, at room temperature
3⁄4 cup confectioners'
1⁄2 cup plus 2
tablespoons cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
8 ounces bittersweet
chocolate (60% to 65% cacao), melted
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Scatter the coconut evenly across a half sheet (13
by 18-inch) pan and bake, stirring once or twice, until the coconut is an even
light brown, approximately 10 minutes. Cool completely.
In a food processor, pulse 1 cup of the toasted coconut
with 1⁄2 cup of the flour until a coconut meal forms. Pulse in the remaining 1 3⁄4
cups flour and the salt. Reserve the remaining 1⁄2 cup toasted coconut for
finishing the cookies.
Line a couple of half sheet pans with parchment
paper. Fit a pastry bag with the Ateco tip #826.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle
attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugar
and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and looks like frosting, 3 to 4
minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring
the batter together.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the cream of
coconut and vanilla.
On medium speed, add 1⁄2 cup cream of coconut and
mix until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 10 seconds. Scrape
the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter
together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the
coconut-flour mixture. Mix until the dough just comes together but still looks
shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Scrape the sides and bottom
of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
If the dough seems too thick to pipe, mix in a
tablespoon at a time of cream of coconut, up to 2⁄3 cup.
Fill the pastry bag halfway with the batter. Pipe
31⁄2-inch-long sticks onto the prepared pans, allowing 1 inch of space between
each cookie. Chill for 10 to 20 minutes.
Increase the oven to 375°F.
Lower the oven to 350°F. Bake one pan at a time for
10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies brown around the edges
and hold their shape when touched, 5 to 7 minutes more. Let the cookies cool
completely on the sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining pan.
To dip the cookies, line a couple of half sheet pans with parchment
paper. Dip the ends of the cookies into the melted chocolate, shake off the
excess, and place on the prepared pans. Sprinkle a pinch of the remaining
toasted coconut over the melted chocolate. Refrigerate until set.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container
at room temperature for up to 3 days.