At the intersection of my desire put a surfeit of flaked coconut to use and an intense need for a soft, cakey cookie is this creation. It features two critical but slightly obscure ingredients: caramel sugar and Kerrygold butter. Standard issue white sugar will still make a nice cookie, but following Stella Parks’ super-simple instructions to make caramel sugar will yield a superior bite. Kerrygold, however, may be swapped with any other European-style, cultured butter.
A food processor has become my new favorite cookie mixing machine. It’s because I’m a lazy cookie whore, really. The heat from the friction of the blade softens the butter in seconds. No waiting an hour for it to warm up on the counter or taking your chances in the microwave. That said, if it’s a hand or stand mixer you prefer, just make sure your butter is at room temperature before you begin.
This recipe yields about 40 1-tablespoon cookies.
Salty Caramel & Toasted Coconut Cookies
30g unsweetened flaked coconut
300g unbleached a/p flour
200g salted Kerrygold butter
200g caramel sugar
4g baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut extract
Preheat oven to 350º.
Spread flaked coconut evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for five minutes, in an oven preheated to 350º, until deep brown. It cooks with maddening swiftness, so keep a close eye on the oven. As soon as the coconut’s toasted, pour it out into a heat-safe bowl and brush the cookie sheet clean. Allow to cool completely before proceeding.
Weigh flour into a bowl and set aside. Weigh sugar and baking powder into another bowl and set aside. Weigh butter directly into work bowl of the food processor. Crack eggs into another bowl along with vanilla and coconut extract and set aside.
Process butter until smooth, soft, and lightened. (If you’ve started with cold butter, you may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor a couple of times to get it back into contact with the blades before the butter softens.) Add sugar and process for 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl with a rubber or silicone spatula then add the eggs/extracts. Process for another 10 seconds, and scrape down the sides of the bowl once more. Add the flour and coconut, process for three seconds, scrape down, and process for another three seconds. If there’s any flour left uncombined, scrape the bowl down one more time and process for three final seconds.
Carefully scrape contents into a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least twenty minutes. For maximum flavor goodness, chill overnight. The extra time really does give the flavors a chance to get to know each other.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º, set one rack in middle of the lower third of the oven, and set the other in the middle of the upper third. Line cookie sheets with parchment. Scoop leveled tablespoons of dough and space 2-inches apart. Quickly roll the dough blobs in your palms to make rough spheres. Bake for twelve minutes, swapping cookie sheets between racks and rotating 180º half way through, or until edges are medium brown but centers are still soft to the touch.
Cool completely on racks before storing in an airtight container.
I could wait no longer to try 3-2-1 cookies with dry caramelized sugar. Stella Parks should win a Nobel Prize for bringing this technique for making caramel without melting sugar to the world. Check it out, make some (go for at least four hour-dark), and then come back. I’ll wait.
These are called 3-2-1 cookies because they use three parts flour, two parts butter, and one sugar. They’re not too sweet and rather like Scottish shortbread in texture. Though in this case I pushed the sugar a little past just one part to yield a softer cookie. It’s a ratio thing, which I go on about at length elsewhere but will spare you here.
Kerrygold is the butter I hope to find in the afterlife, and it pushes the complexity of the roasted sugar to the fore. Crisp at the edges, soft and cakey in the middle. Oh, and dead simple to make. You’re welcome.
This recipe yields 20 1-tablespoon cookies.
Caramel Sugar Cookies
225g a/p flour
6g baking powder
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
50g salted Kerrygold butter, room temperature
90g caramel sugar (see technique here)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350º with rack positioned in the middle.
Dump everything but the egg into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add egg and pulse until a cohesive ball forms. Scoop into a separate bowl, cover, and rest on counter for 20 minutes. This works just as well without a food processor, but incorporating the butter into the flour will take longer.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and scoop level tablespoons two-inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown but centers still a little soft.
Cool completely on racks. Store for up to a week in an airtight container.
The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week.
There’s a brief moment, when biting into the best molasses cookies, that time stops and the spicy darkness explodes around you. Or at least there is with these spice packed, deeply dark molasses bombs.
Blooming the spices in the hot brown butter makes them all the more potent. (Double the ginger for a super bomb.) If you can marshal the patience, these cookies are even better the day after they’re baked.
These can be mixed in a food processor or by hand, though I prefer to do it by hand.
Molasses Spice Bombs
283g a/p flour
10g baking soda
3g ginger powder
2g ground cardamom
170g unsalted butter
120g white sugar
115g dark molasses
56g egg (1)
50g raw or Turbinado sugar for rolling cookies
Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan. When the butter is melted, increase the heat to medium. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat-safe silicon spatula, allow the butter to foam. When small brown flecks appear in the butter and it starts to smell like toasty things, remove immediately to a heat proof bowl. After five minutes, add the spices to the hot butter and stir to combine.
While you wait for the butter to cool, combine the flour, baking soda, and white sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat the egg with the salt and then beat in the molasses. Once the butter has cooled enough not to burn at the touch, whisk it into the egg and molasses.
Pour the egg and molasses mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to completely combine. Knead lightly into a smooth ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least two hours before baking.
Preheat oven to 350º and prepare two cookie sheets with at least four sheets of parchment paper, cut to size. Place racks in the middle of the upper- and lower-third of your oven.
Using a round teaspoon measure scoop out general balls and line up on parchment with two inches between cookies. Once they’re all scooped, lightly roll each ball between your palms to even and smooth it, then dip the top into the raw sugar before placing firmly on parchment.
Baking two racks at a time, the cookies need a total of twelve minutes in the oven. Rotate them between the racks and turn the cookie sheets 180º half way through the baking time. Cool on racks and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Redolent of almonds and rose water, you’ll either find these cookies heavenly or like taking a bite out of grandma. (Omit the rose water if you’re in the grandma camp.) For me, their pleasure is derived from the contrast in texture between the crisp exterior and soft, candy-like interior. Also, they are gluten-free if that sort of a thing excites you.
Of course you can buy blanched almonds, but they’re both twice the price and half the quality of doing it yourself using whole raw almonds. The procedure is super simple. Put the almonds in a pan and just cover with water. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, kill the heat, and allow to stand one minutes before draining and rinsing to cool. While still wet and warm, pinch them between your thumb and index finger to remove the skins. This will take you about 15 minutes for this recipe. If you have a semi-responsible child/spouse, this is the perfect thing for them to do to help in the kitchen.
This recipe requires a food processor.
240g blanched & peeled whole raw almonds
100g egg whites (3)
240g white sugar
4g almond extract
2g vanilla extract
2g rose water
Roll almonds in a fresh, clean towel to remove any excess water if you blanched them yourself.
Add eggs and salt to the bowl of the food processor and blitz for about 15 seconds to lighten and combine. Add the sugar and flavorings and blitz for another 15 seconds.
Add the almonds and process for a minute. Stop the food processor, remove the lid, and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Process for another minute, or until no pieces are larger than a sesame seed. Remove to a bowl, and chill for an hour minimum.
Preheat oven to 350º and prepare cookie sheets with at least four sheets of parchment paper cut to size. This will allow you to pipe/dish new racks while the others bake. Set your racks in the middle of the upper- and lower-third of your oven.
You may either be fancy and pipe 100ish quarter-sized kisses with a Wilton #21 tip onto the parchment paper or scoop them generously with a teaspoon measure. When I really need to eat my feelings, I use a #30 disher (2 tablespoons) and make the big boys shown in the recipe’s photo. This treatment maximizes the chewy interior. The cookies do not spread and require no more than an inch between them.
Bake two racks at a time, rotating the sheets between the racks and turning them 180º as you do so half way through the cooking time. Piped and smaller spooned cookies require 20 minutes, the Almond Bombs from Disher #30 require 24 minutes. Rest on parchment, on cooling racks, for five minutes before moving to plain cooling racks. These will keep for a week in an airtight container at room temperature.