One Coconut Cookie, Three Personalities
September 1st, 2009 | 36 Comments
Coconut cookie and strawberry ice cream sandwiches
A big gracias to all of you for your stunning influx of comments about the Dobos. It was overwhelming and really made my día, so thank you.
You may be asking yourself if this has suddenly become a Spanish blog, what with me sprinkling foreign words around like there’s no mañana. Por favor, rest assured, this will continue to be a pastry blog. There is a reason why I’ve suddenly gone spicy. In a few days, Scott and I will be taking a long awaited vacation to Spain.
Though I’m busting out of my skin with excitement, my enthusiasm might double, even triple, if you could help me compile a list of places to visit. If you’ve ever been there or live there and can point me to some spots that you think are worth it, I’d really appreciate it. I’ll be spending a few days in Madrid and a few days in Barcelona and maybe a day trip in their respective vicinities. Whatever comes to your mind—pastry places, arty places, pretty places, out-of-the-way places, delicious places—are all up for consideration. We’ll likely divide our time with sightseeing during the day and bar/restaurant lounging in the evening. Surely my camera will gain 10 pounds from all the pictures I’ll load it up with, but I’ll purge them all here when I return.
Too bad my high school Spanish never stuck because now I have to wax poetic about the coconut cookie in English. You may remember the post on strawberry ice cream and its insistence on being just a tad icy. It occurred to me that a good way to disguise that would be to hide it in cookies. That’s when I heard the call of the ice cream sandwich. The crumbliness of the cookie would make the lacking ice cream texture unnoticable.
Coconut cookie and chocolate ganache sandwiches
Now’s a good time as any to interject a few thoughts on building interesting dessert plates. When you come across a recipe that is so good you forget your own name, file it away. It could even be just a component of a recipe, like a killer chocolate sauce or a buttercream that makes you fall to your knees. Eventually you’ll build up a repertoire of excellent recipes that you can mix and match to come up with creative combinations.
Sometimes it’s a seemingly elementary recipe that can be catapulted to a higher level. Here’s a simple coconut cookie. True, pleasant and tempting all on it’s own, but with the addition of strawberry ice cream, it’s a changed cookie.
Where else can we take the coconut cookie? Well, if it goes well with strawberry ice cream, it will go well with strawberry preserve. An easy dress up.
And what else goes well with coconut? Chocolate? Why, yes, a chocolate ganache. We all know that’s a classic combo. Maybe cinnamon can be added to the ganache to make it more intriguing. These pairings can go as far as the imagination takes you. This little cookie can go with lemon curd… almond cream… fig butter…
Then, if you’ve ever wanted to build a whole dessert plate, you might ponder “What goes well with a strawberry coconut sandwich?” We already have a cold element and a crumbly element. What can be added for contrast? Perhaps a soft square of vanilla pound cake, and some minted peach compote, for a big, fruity hit. All of a sudden, you’ve got a fancy-pants dessert.
Coconut cookie and strawberry preserve sandwiches
It’s a bit of stream-of-consciousness thinking and the way I’ve always worked out a menu. Even just the few recipes that I’ve posted so far can be taken in offbeat directions. How can the carrot cake from last week become something more surprising? What if I didn’t bake it in round cake pans? I could bake it in a square pan, and cut long, rectangular wedges out of it. Then set it on top of roasted pineapple pieces and served it with cream cheese ice cream. All of the components are the same as what you’d typically find in a carrot cake, but are presented in a way that makes you dance in your seat.
Maybe instead of individual maple-blueberry cupcakes, I can make a large cake, slice it horizontally into layers, and fill it with lemon mousse. Whipped cream can play the part of the frosting. Now it’s a whole different cake.
What I’m trying to say is that if you find a great recipe, don’t think of it as a self-contained recipe in and of itself, but rather the beginning of a million possibilities. That’s where you get to be really creative in the kitchen.
One book I go to time and again is the The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefsby Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It’s not a recipe book. It’s a flavor pairing reference, which includes both sweet and savory. Pick any ingredient and check the book. If I look up hazelnuts, there’s a list of possibilities that I sometimes wouldn’t think of that would go well with hazelnuts. A few items on the list include mint, mango, persimmons, and red wine. All these things might not have automatically come to my mind. Now I have unusual options to play with, which will hopefully get my guests to do a double take.
Au revoir, for now. I mean adiós.
Makes about 50 single cookies, and 25 if sandwiched
1 1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 stick (168 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (240 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup (80 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Ingredients galore.
2. Start the butter in a mixing bowl by whipping it on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
3. Pour in the sugar and the vanilla extract and beat that in for another 30 seconds.
3. Then add eggs one at a time, and allow each one to mix in completely before adding in the next.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Then add it to the mixing bowl.
Stir it in on slow speed. Toss in the shredded coconut.
Here’s our finished batter. All made in the blink of an eye!
6. Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds on to a parchment lined baking sheet. Space them about 2 inches apart since they spread like they mean it.
Bake in the preheated 375 degree oven. I always hate to give a time because all ovens are so different. Even the three trays that I baked were ready at varying speeds. My top shelf is hottest, so it bakes the fastest. You’re looking for golden edges. Mine took about 8-10 minutes.
Let cool completely. Enjoy them as they are or…
Make ice cream sandwiches
1. Scoop your favorite ice cream onto the inside of a cookie.
Gently press a second cookie on top. If the ice cream is too hard, the cookie might snap in half as you’re pressing, so you may want to soften the ice cream first by popping it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Place these in the freezer as they’re done.
Or fill them with chocolate ganache
7 oz chopped chocolate and 1/3 cup heavy cream
In the last few posts, I’ve melted chocolate over a double boiler, but the truth is, it’s waaaay easier to melt it in the microwave. Obviously, have your chocolate in a glass bowl. Chocolate can burn easily in the microwave, so it’s best to nuke it in short intervals. First 40 seconds…
… then stir, then 30 more seconds.
Chocolate also has a tendency to retain its shape even when melted so it can trick you into microwaving it more than is needed. Keep stirring in between 30-second bursts of nuking to distribute the heat.
Mine took 1 minute and 40 seconds to melt all the way.
Nuke the heavy cream in a microwave safe glass for 40 seconds to get it hot like the chocolate. Pour it over and start stirring feverishly, working from the center out to create and emulsion and pull the cream in gradually.
Fill a pastry bag oufitted with a plain piping tip. To “lock” the tip while you fill, first twist the bag near the tip…
… then tuck the twist into the tip.
The ganache will not dribble out until you release the “lock.” Fill the bag without a care in the world. My claw-shaped hand is holding it open like a puppet.
Scoop it in.
Smoosh all the ganache forward into the bag and twist it closed, so it doesn’t run out the back end. Looks like I need a third hand.
Pull out the locked pastry tip and pipe some goodness onto each cookie.
Or lastly, try a jam filling.
Who can decide what to eat first?
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