Toasted Coconut Shortbread

So, I’ve been sitting on this recipe for nearly three months. I made these shortbread cookies as part of my cookie trays at Christmas, and since then the post has just been getting pushed farther and farther back into the drafts folder. There are three others just like it too. I simply didn’t bake far enough in advance to actually share the new recipes I was trying before Christmas. Food blogger fail πŸ™‚ And let’s face it – no one really wants to see a bunch of decadent sweets on a blog the first few weeks of January…

I was just going to save all of those posts for next year’s holiday season, and that’s probably still what will happen with the others, but I thought these toasted coconut shortbread cookies deserved some attention a little sooner. For one, they’re truly fantastic, and it felt wrong not to share with all of you as soon as possible! Also, they include a whole bunch of coconut, which has always been a flavor I associate with spring. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take all the spring flavors I can get right now since mother nature still hasn’t gotten the message that winter is over – there’s yet more snow in the forecast for tonight.

Toasted Coconut Shortbread

I’ve loved shortbread cookies for as long as I can remember. Even eating the store-bought versions as a kid, I thought they were something special. It’s amazing how the combination of just a handful of ingredients can result in such a wonderful treat. Like all good shortbread cookies, these are buttery and slightly crumbly, but the addition of the toasted coconut gives them even more flavor and a slightly nutty quality that really takes them over the top. They require absolutely no garnish, but dipping them in chocolate and sprinkling more coconut on top just makes them a little more special occasion-worthy. It was perfect around the holidays, but if you’re making them for, say, Easter you could skip it. The decision is all yours!

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2004 (via Annie’s Eats)

{Note: the yield is going to depend largely on what size cookie cutter you use. Mine was fairly large – about 3 inches, and I wound up with roughly 3 dozen cookies.}

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour

Optional Garnish
Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and melted
Sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread the coconut in an even layer on the baking sheet (you can do both the sweetened and unsweetened at the same time, just be sure to keep them separated on the baking sheet, or use two baking sheets). Bake for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the coconut is golden brown. Don’t walk away, it can burn *very* quickly. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the coconut cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the salt and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour, beating just until incorporated. Stir in the toasted coconut. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days – though if you go longer than a hour let the dough sit at room temperature for a bit to make it more workable before trying to roll out).

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place your dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll to a scant 1/4-inch thickness (the dough may be slightly crumbly, it was for me). Using a cookie cutter (or alternatively, to make things easier, you could just use a pastry cutter rather than do individual shapes), cut the cookies and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. You can space them fairly close together, they won’t spread much. Re-roll the dough and repeat to make additional cookies.

Bake the cookies for about 18-20 minutes, or until light golden brown in color. I used a large cookie cutter, your baking time may be shorter if you use a small one. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for a few minutes before removing them to the racks to cool completely.

To garnish: dip one corner or edge of the cookies in the melted chocolate then transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Sprinkle with the toasted sweetened shredded coconut. Repeat for all cookies, allowing the chocolate to set before storing or serving.

Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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