This cookie is pretty much the epitome of what a Dorie Greenspan cookie is: steeped in expert technique, enhanced with a bit of French baking wisdom, and full of all the whimsy and wonder baking can offer. Because at first this may seem like a pretty old-school coconut macaroon, with the eggs, coconut, and sugar, but the technique makes them unique. The dough for these cookies takes a turn on the stove for a stunning result: Cookies that have a tender, chewy core and crackling, crispy crust.
The Stovetop Step
The uniqueness of this recipe starts with cooking it on the stovetop. It's not a technique you see in the traditional American rendition of these cookies because the method is distinctly French. "This recipe uses unsweetened coconut, which is very dry," say Dorie. "The pre-cooking and the long rest in the refrigerator ensures that the coconut is fully hydrated. The cooking adds to the chewiness of the cookie's interior. Since the ingredients are already cooked, the oven time is not to bake the dough, but to dry it out (it's cooked at 300ºF) and give the cookies their crisp crust."
Flavor These Cookies as You Like
Coconut is always looking for a new flavor partner, and that is no less true when it comes to macaroons. Dorie starts you off with lime for a cookie that has a cheery margarita-like flavor, but anything from rose to orange to more vanilla (up to 1 1/4 teaspoons) will happily join in on the party.
Dorie's Coconut Patties
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 limes (or lemons)
4 large egg whites
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon pure lemon oil, pure lime oil, or pure lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sanding or granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Put the sugar in a medium heavy saucepan, top with the zest, and use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar until it is moist and aromatic. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the egg whites, then add the coconut, stirring until the coconut is evenly moistened, it will take a couple of minutes.
Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture is hot to the touch. Check by dipping a table knife into the mixture — it should come out very warm. Depending on the heat, this will take 5 to 8 minutes.
Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the oil or extract and vanilla. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the dough and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 300°F. Use an insulated cookie sheet or stack 2 baking sheets one on top of the other. Line the top sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
You will need a medium cookie scoop to portion the dough, a 2-inch baking ring or cookie cutter to shape the cookies, and a spice jar that fits in the ring to flatten the dough (wrap the bottom of the jar in plastic wrap). You can also use a tablespoon and shape the patties by hand.
Scoop the dough out onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between the scoops (or rounded tablespoonfuls) of dough. If you're using a baking ring or cutter, place the ring around each mound of dough, press the dough down gently with the jar (the patty will be about 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick) and remove the ring. If you don't have a ring, just press the dough down with your fingers. If you'd like, sprinkle the tops of the patties with sugar.
Bake until the patties feel dry and slightly firm to the touch and are just lightly browned here and there, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the patties cool completely — they're too fragile to move when they're warm.
- Coconut: You must use unsweetened coconut — sweetened flake coconut won't absorb the sugar or blend with the whites. It will also make your cookies too sweet. I use short finely shredded coconut that I buy from the bulk bins in natural food markets.
- Lemon oil: Pure lemon oil adds true and deep flavor to the mix. If you can't find the oil, use pure lemon extract.
- Make ahead: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
- Storage: Packed in an airtight container, the cookies will keep at room temperature for about 1 week. Keep them longer and they'll get a little firmer and a little drier, but they'll still find happy takers.
Reprinted with permission from Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan, copyright (c) 2016. Published by Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.