Coconut made quite a few guest appearances in my childhood. In 2nd grade, my teacher brought in a coconut, a hammer, and a nail and proceeded to mercilessly beat on the poor things shell until it cracked open. Let me tell you, that was quite a lesson. By the time it was finally opened we were all slightly traumatized and quietly ate our samples of fresh coconut in silence. Then we proceeded to behave like perfect angels for the rest of the day. No one dared to break rank in case the new punishment for getting your name on the board involved carpentry tools.
We rarely baked with coconut when I was growing up, with the exception of using bags of it to cover our annual Easter Bunny Cake. I’m sure I promptly and very indiscreetly scraped the coconut off my slice of bunny, because coconut was”weird” and “gross” and looked pretty but it couldn’t compare to purple sprinkles or jelly beans so “get it away from me!”
I did eventually learn to like coconut thanks to a samples person at Shaw’s Supermarket who gave me a Dixie Cup full of Bacardi Mixers Pina Colada mix (obviously without the rum). Now that was tasty! I bugged my mother all through the frozen foods aisle until she agreed to buy some. I suppose that was my first “cocktail.” I definitely thought I was totally posh drinking what was essentilly a Pina Colada flavored sugar filled milkshake. Ahh…to be 11 again. I would have been much better off had someone just made me some of these addictive mini coconut laden treats.
Coconut Sandwich Cookies (Originally published in the December 2007 issue of Everyday Food: A Martha Stewart Magazine)
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (7 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut (about 2 1/4 cups)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Creamy Vanilla Filling (see below)
Preheat oven to 350, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Place 1/2 cup coconut into a small bowl; set aside. Place remaining coconut in a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and ground coconut; mix just until combined.
Drop dough by level tablespoons onto two baking sheets, 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dividing evenly, spread filling on flat side of half the cookies; sandwich with remaining cookies. Roll edges in reserved coconut, and chill until ready to serve.
Creamy Vanilla Filling
Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup (1 stick) room-temperature unsalted butter until light and fluffy. With mixer on medium, beat in 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Note: I also added 1 tablespoon milk); increase speed to high, and beat until filling is light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Makes about 1 cup.