For the cookies:
1 cup shredded coconut*
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
1¼ tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
To finish (optional):
Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and melted
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Add the coconut to a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the coconut is lightly browned, being careful not to burn it. Set aside to cool.
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In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the salt and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour just until incorporated and a dough begins to form. Mix in the toasted coconut. Form a disc of dough and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and let chill at least 1 hour or until firm.
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Preheat the oven to 325˚ F. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to just less than ¼-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter or pastry cutter to cut out cookie shapes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Reroll dough scraps as needed.
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Bake until light golden and crisp, rotating the pans halfway through baking, about 16-18 minutes total. (Baking time will vary depending on the size/shape of your cookies. Keep an eye on them!) Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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If desired, dip cookies or drizzle with melted chocolate. Transfer to a pan lined with wax or parchment paper. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Let chocolate set completely before removing from the pans.
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*For the dough, I prefer unsweetened shredded coconut if available. For garnish, I prefer the look of the sweetened shredded coconut.