Sunday, September 13, 2009

Toasted Coconut & White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts . . .

My husband, Andy, has a few friends over to play poker about once a month, and every September he organizes a small tournament that starts on a Saturday afternoon around 2:30 pm and can go into the wee hours of Sunday morning. It takes place in our garage and/or driveway, with his homemade poker tables set up in cozy proximity to each other.

Last year, I created a rather large, two-layer, chocolate-mousse filled, dark chocolate cake for the event. It was a delicious cake, if I do say so myself. It was decorated to look like that classic, nostalgic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign . . . you know the one that I mean? It was an amusing cake, and the die-hard poker dudes apparently enjoyed and appreciated it.

Well, anyway, yesterday was this year's tournament. Though we'd contemplated doing another big cake for the occasion (Andy and I tossed around the idea of my making a cake that looked like a couple of overlapping playing cards, or a big round cake that looked like an enormous poker chip, etc.), ultimately we decided to just go with a bunch of macho cookies instead. Food is not a big focus of this event, so no one was gonna miss a fussy theme-cake. This time you might say we were going for the He-Man Cookie Platter concept, figuratively speaking. Nothing delicate or crumbly, no cut-out cuties, nothing with a fluffy icing, or a sticky candy-like topping. Nothing, in other words, that could negatively impact the sanctity of the poker tables, nor the steely-eyed concentration of the players. And, frankly girls, I was kind of glad about not having to make a cake, as I think I'm still recovering from my August cake decorating angst. Still feeling a little gun shy. Or maybe I should say pastry-bag shy.

And, it's fun having a mandate to produce a huge amount of cookies now and then, assuming you have the time and the inclination. I figure mass production helps keep you in good form and allows you to fine tune your technique through repetition. So, last week I spent several hours mixing up hefty batches of dough and baking sheet after sheet of man-cookies.

There were just three simple varieties that I mixed up for the tournament. Among them, my fail-safe chocolate chip cookies, along with my equally fail-safe oatmeal raisin cookies (both of which I've posted in the past), and to accompany those old standbys I made some toasted-coconut white-chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. The latter is the recipe I'd like to share today. It's really good, and just as reliable as the other two I mentioned. For all intents and purposes, it's a variation on the basic dough used for the chocolate chip recipe, but it's so yummy I think it can stand on its own. Thus, without further ado . . .

Toasted Coconut & White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts

(For a printable version of this recipe click here!)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp. solid vegetable shortening
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 and 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract (most likely, it will be imitation coconut extract/flavor; that's okay, because that's about all that seems to be readily available in the U.S, as far as I can tell!)
2 eggs, large
4 and 1/2 cups All Purpose flour, unbleached
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 and 1/2 cups of coconut
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Spread the coconut out evenly on a cookie sheet that has sides. Place it in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes, checking it every couple of minutes, and giving it a stir, to ensure the coconut doesn't overbrown and burn. It should be nicely golden. Cool the toasted coconut on its cookie sheet and set aside.

Measure flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, cream cheese, shortening, and sugars until fluffy and creamy. Add in the eggs and the two extracts; beat on medium speed until very well combined.

Mix in the flour mixture on the mixer's lowest speed.

Add in the coconut and mix until just blended, then white chocolate chips just until blended, and the nuts until blended. The dough will be pretty thick.

Chill the cookie dough for at least an hour. Might be a good idea to divide the dough into two or three portions and wrap them in Saran wrap before putting them in the fridge. When they're chilled, take out one package at a time when you're ready to put them on the cookie sheets. Also, I highly recommend you chill your cookie sheets before you portion the dough onto them by placing them in your freezer. These two things can work wonders to help cookies from overspreading when they bake.

I like to use a no. 24 cookie scoop (that's about 2 and 1/2 Tbsp. of dough) to make these into generous-sized cookies, but feel free to make them smaller if you like. Space the cookies 2" apart on your parchment lined sheets. Bake them until they're golden brown and not mushy in the middle. That could be anywhere between 8 and 13 minutes or so, depending upon the vagaries of your oven, and the size of your cookies. Check them frequently so they don't overbrown. Cover the cookies lightly with foil if they're browning too fast. Let them cool on their pans for about five minutes, then remove them to racks to finish cooling.

This recipe makes a lot of dough that will yield at least three dozen large cookies, and many more if you make them smaller.

Go ahead. Run 'em up the flagpole at your house . . . they're delish!

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or read any existing comments, just click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Nina said...

Jane---these cookies look heavenly! You had me at "coconut"..definitely putting these on my "to do" list!

Jane said...

Hi Nina, Thanks very much! Yes, I know what you mean, sometimes coconut is just the ticket in a good cookie.

:) Jane

Nicisme said...

I'm not crazy about coconut, but these cookies look super!

HanaĆ¢ said...

Your cookies look great. I like thick and chewy cookies. Not sure if these were like that or not... Too bad I can't eat them due to allergies to both coconut and walnuts.

Irene said...

What a perfect combination of flavors!

Jane said...

Hi Nicisme,
Yeah, coconut seems to be one of those things that people either love or hate. My kids aren't crazy about it but I like it a lot, though I don't really use it in recipes that frequently. Thanks so much for stopping by!

:) Jane

Hi Hanaa, These definitely are chewy cookies, and they're fairly thick in that respect too. Definitely not thin and crispy. They don't have a long shelf life, though. They seem to be good the first and second day and then they're stale. We ended up with quite a few leftover and I ended up pitching them. I wish I'd just baked fewer to start with!
:) Jane

Hi there Irene,
Yes, it is a nice flavor combo, I agree! Hope all is well in Confessions-of-a Tart land. Thanks for visiting.


Julianne said...

Thanks so much for this post, pretty worthwhile material.