Jabba the Coconutt

Cherry Coconut Sugar Cookies

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What screams “First Day of Fall” more loudly than coconut?  Well, almost anything, really, but still!  I’m still going to commemorate this year’s autumnal equinox with one of my favorite baking add-ins:  coconut!  It’s like cilantro…you either love it or you hate it.  Personally, I love it!  The texture, the aroma, the flavor, the everything.  These cookies don’t kick you in the face with coconut flavor; they just subtly nudge you in the obliques — while subtly softening your obliques 😉
Featuring coconut oil and unsweetened coconut flakes inside the dough, with a generous coating of sweetened coconut on the outside, these little sweeties are the ideal triple threat.  A tropical and fruity twist on my Tom’s Favorite Sugar Cookies, the half-powdered-sugar-half-granulated-sugar dough is pillowy soft and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  P.S.  Thw snowy exterior makes for a very festive-looking Christmas cookie — not to jump the holiday gun or anything (excuse me for a sec while I turn down my Josh Groban Noel album…)
I thought dried cherries would compliment the coconut flavor nicely — also, I’m a sucker for visual alliteration, and dried cherries were on sale this week!  The beautiful paleness of these sugar cookies is nicely contrasted with the occasional scarlet cherry peaking out from ‘neath the dusting of coconut flakes, which, by the way, get a bit toasty at the tips during baking!

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The day after I made these cookies, I happened upon  Sally’s Bake Blog’s Brown Butter Glaze, whilst idly scrolling through Instagram between patients (don’t worry, my note was done and my room was clean!).  I slightly adjusted the glaze proportions to achieve a thicker, drizzle-friendly consistency.  I thought the nuttiness of the brown butter would take these cocnutters to the next level.  I have to say, this was one of my better judgement calls (unlike that time I thought a 6-mile run in -27 degree wind-chill conditions would be a good idea #notenoughlayersintheworld).

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Cherry Coconut Sugar Cookies

1 stick butter, cubed and softened to room temp
2 tablespoons regular cream cheese, cubed and softened to room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg, room temp
1 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract, if you don’t have/like almond extract)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup unsweetened, dried coconut flakes (you can use regular sweetened coconut, but slightly decrease your granulated sugar by a tablespoon or so if you do)
~1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, for rolling (toasted until lightly browned in a dry skillet, if desired)
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, place butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and oil (in that order!), and beat until very pale and creamy.  Beat in egg and extract.  In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, use a fork to combine and aerate flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt.  With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients to wet.  Fold in cherries and unsweetened coconut.  Cover mixing bowl, and chill 20 minutes – 24 hours.
Remove dough from fridge (if you chilled the dough for 2 or more hours, let the dough sit on the counter for at least 1 hour prior to handling).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Roll golf ball-sized dough balls (or smaller, if you like a more modest cookie), and roll balls in sweetened coconut.  Place coconutted balls on cookie sheet, spaced ~1 1/2″ apart.  Gently press down each dough ball with the bottom of a flat drinking glass, flattening each dough ball to ~1/4″ thickness. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through bake time — cookies should be pale, with small microcracks forming on the surface — no hint of brownness should be visible at the edges!  Let sit on baking sheet 2-3 minutes to deflate, then remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely.  Drizzle with Brown Butter Icing (below) and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired.  Store cooled cookies, in a tightly-sealed container, at room temperature or in the fridge, for up to 5 days.

Brown Butter Icing (optional)

2 tablespoons butter, browned
1 cup powdered sugar
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)
Dash vanilla extract
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
Once butter has browned, immediately transfer it to a glass 2-cup measuring cup and allow to cool ~5 minutes.  Whisk in powdered sugar until a clump forms.  Start by adding 1 tablespoon of the milk and the vanilla, and whisk together — if consistency is still too thick to drizzle, add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of milk.  Transfer icing to a small zip-top bag, snip off a small (~1/4 cm) corner of the bag, and drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Allow to sit, undisturbed, until icing has set.  Then store cookies as described above.

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