I have been looking so hard for a foolproof chewy cookie recipe. Mine always turned out too puffy, too crispy, too cakey, or too crunchy. I want crisp, brittle edges and that toffee-like chew in the middle. But then I found Debbie's fantastic chocolate chip cookie recipe - the best chewy cookie yet. So far it's baked up many batches of reliably chewy cookies.
The thing is, it's summer, and I don't feel like eating chocolate in this heat. So I cooked up something new, something a little different, with Debbie's cookie as the base. I added a swirl of coconut cream cheese in place of chips, and sparkling bits of candied lemon peel for zest. They're perfectly chewy, gooey, and full of tropical lemon and coconut.
If, like me you're a lover of all things lemon, then these cookies are calling your name. Can you hear it? The sweet and tangy, lemony zing is subtle, yet very present in every bite. But the best part of all are the secret hidden gems that lie buried through the cookie dough - the small pieces candied lemon peel.
There are those cookie recipes you can whip together quickly and pop in the oven when your craving for an after dinner sweet kicks in. And then there are recipes like these swirled lemony coconut cookies. This is the kind of recipe that comes together slowly, in steps. You'll make the candied lemon peel, and then the cookie dough, and the coconut cream cheese filling. It will be chilled and rolled, and chilled some more. Until finally the cookies are sliced and baked, and for your time and patience you receive a sweet, delicious reward.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into pieces
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup candied lemon peel, chopped
Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Beat the butter and sugars together on low speed in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth and fluffy - about three or four minutes. Add the vanilla, zest, and eggs and fold in. Immediately add the flour and slowly work it in. Stir in the chopped lemon peel by hand. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour - preferably longer.
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1/2 can coconut cream, like Coco Lopez - only the thick portion
Zest of one lemon
1 1/3 cup sweet flaked coconut
Beat the cream cheese until light and whipped, then whip in the egg and the thick, opaque part of the cream of coconut and leaving the oily liquid behind. (Save and freeze for some impromptu pina coladas...) Beat in the lemon zest and coconut. Refrigerate or freeze until quite firm.
Divide the cookie dough into four equal parts. Pat each part out on the counter to about 1/2 inch thick and dollop a smooth layer of cream cheese mixture on top. Roll up the dough like a cinnamon roll. It won't be neat or pretty - don't worry if the mixture oozes out the sides. Refrigerate the rolls until quite firm - or stick in the freezer for an hour.
Heat the oven to 375ºF and line two large cookie sheets with parchment or a Silpat. Cut the cookies about 3/4 inch thick and bake for 14-17 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.
Leave on the cookie sheets for at least five minutes before attempting to remove the cookies, then move to cooling racks and leave them alone until almost completely cool. This is hard, I know, but they're even better the next day! The coconut flavor comes through much better, so if possible, leave some for tomorrow...
This recipe has been edited - originally published June 2007.