Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Coconut Butter Thins

Dorie Greenspan, or her cookbook at least, has a split cookie personality. On the one hand are what she calls 'cookie jar cookies,' big American-style cookies with chunks of things in them, often sporting silly names like 'granola grabbers.' On the other hand, and in fact in another section, are what she refers to as 'side of the saucer cookies,' elegant, buttery, grown-up cookies. These are the ones I love. Some of them, however, don't really have names that attract me, and while I've had the salt and pepper shortbread bookmarked for years, I had never considered making the Coconut Butter Thins.

This is not a mistake that I will be repeating. These are some of the most elegant, subtly unusual, and irresistible cookies I've ever made. I would make these for fancy catering jobs. I would make these for intimate dinners. I would make them every day, except where would that leave us and my main home taster doesn't do coconut. But I repeat, these are really impressive little cookies.

The best part is that it's not only the end result that's fun. The method is also simple, elegant, and entertaining.You mix up a shortbread-like base, your butter, your sugar, your flour, etc.
Then you add in shredded coconut and nuts (Dorie recommends macadamia, I preferred pistachio for both looks and taste). I made two other substitutions--lemon and grapefruit zest replaced lime, and instead of a dash of coriander (an interesting spice recommendation that Dorie offers without comment), I added a dash of a curry powder blend, which gave the final project a warm savory overtone to balance the sweetness. Next time I may try coriander straight up, I didn't have any in the house this time.

Now the fun part: When the dough is done, you put it into a large plastic freezer bag and allow the bag to help you roll it out into a very thin rectangle.It was just so satisfactorily neat and precise. I'm not normally a fan of precision but this was like the perfect dance step, the neatest turn, the easiest cruise on a bike...I'm not getting this, but be assured, it gave more pleasure than you'd think rolling out a rectangle of dough could. When the dough has chilled, in my case overnight, you slip it out of the bag and cut it into squares. Dorie offers the most un-Dorie-like instruction that you use a ruler, which kind of nudges the recipe into the Martha camp, but I understand, it comes naturally from the pleasure of rolling it into the bag so neatly. After that, it's just bake and watch people's faces go quiet and thoughtful when they taste it, watch them cover the box up with a scarf during rehearsal because otherwise the smell is too distractingly delicious, watch a box of these vanish in a very few minutes. And plan the next attack. The coconut really does something I wouldn't have suspected to the texture, the pistachios added perfect color notes, and I bet there's a wide range of spices that would enhance. The recipe can be found here. It just begs to be, in Dorie's words, 'played around' with. And it just begs to be made. Make it. Now.


Jamie said...

Glad you enjoyed these, I like them too!

Leslie said...

I love your tweaks! These were delicious and you've proven they're versatile!

Flourchild said...

I could have eaten a dozen at one sitting, they were that good! I love your cookies, nice!

Teanna DiMicco said...

They really are fantastic cookies! And yours look gorgeous!

TeaLady said...

Oh, the little bits of pistachio here and there and the addition of curry powder - WOW!!! Those look fantastic.