Toasted Coconut Shortbread
Shortbread cookies have always held a special place in my
heart stomach. A buttery cookie that is simultaneously tender yet crisp…perfection, in my book. Even plain shortbread is a lovely treat but this toasted coconut version has long been a favorite of mine. The toasted coconut gives the cookies a subtle depth of flavor that makes them irresistible.
I’ve made these cookies several times but they never survived long enough for a photo. With the holiday baking season almost upon us (woot!), it’s time to start planning what treats make the cut. These are definitely on my list. To simplify them for making large quantities, you can roll out the dough and cut in a grid formation using a ruffled edge pastry cutter rather than individual cookie cutters, rerolling dough scraps, etc. The chocolate coconut garnish is entirely optional (the cookies are still totally stellar without it), but it makes for a pretty presentation.
Yield: about 32 medium sized cookies (depends on size and shape of cutter)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*For the dough, I prefer unsweetened shredded coconut if available. For garnish, I prefer the look of the sweetened shredded coconut.