The Winter Cookie Party, Part II – Lemon Coconut Almond Cookies and Why Cookie Baking Means So Much

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It’s a cookie party in the Ate by Ate kitchen!  You all know how much I love baking cookies (and how much I love eating them!), but these days, I love baking them even more than usual because it gives me a renewed sense of joy and purpose: I bake cookies to make my grandma and grandpa happy.  I’m lucky to still have my grandpa.  A number of years ago my grandpa had kidney failure and because of the nurses and doctors who saved him that day, he was given many more years of life.  And cookies!

Here’s the story: when I started baking a few years ago, I would bake extras for my grandparents when I knew I was seeing them that day.  I’d bake little tea muffins or cupcakes without frosting, put them in a tupperware container, and carry them with me in the car like a prized possession.  I eventually began baking cookies with a venegeance and little by little, muffins and cupcakes were squeezed out in favour of cookies.  And my grandparents loved them.

My grandpa loved them so much he ended up bringing one or two with him every time he went to the hospital for his dialysis appointments.  For anyone who has a family member, loved one, or friend who visits the hospital on a regular basis, you know just how draining it can be.  My cookies not only gave him the little sugar boost he needed after his appointments (which would make him feel a bit weak and tired afterward), but they also gave him a little part of me and my joy.  So now, I bake more cookies so my grandpa has something happy and yummy to enjoy during those dreary hospital visits.

This past weekend, I saw my grandma and grandpa for Chinese New Year and I gave them a fresh batch of new cookies to enjoy because I knew it would make them happy.  My grandpa pulled me aside and said to me, in Chinese, “when Debra is here, grandpa feels rich”.  On top of the happiness I feel when I bake, this is all the validation I need to keep doing what I’m doing.

Recipe for Lemon Coconut Almond Cookies (yields 4 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter (10 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon 
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded or desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups sliced almonds

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (*Deb’s Note: Depending on how big you make your cookie dough balls, you’ll need to reuse your cookie sheets a few times.  My oven runs hot, so I actually don’t bother putting anything on the bottom rack and only use the top rack, placing 2 baking sheets vertically side by side).
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t use the mixer for this step, I just used a large spoon to mix everything together).
  • Beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until creamy.  Add the egg followed by the egg yolk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon juice, beating well between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
  • Beat in the dry ingredients, then add the lemon zest, shredded coconut, and sliced almonds, folding them into the cookie dough mixture (*Deb’s Note: alternatively, you can roll your cookie dough balls in the coconut if you want after the next step).
  • Using your hands, grab handfuls of cookie dough and shape into balls, about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Place cookie dough balls onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown at the edges.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely (*Deb’s Note: I placed 15 on each baking sheet, but it all depends on how big your want you cookies.  If you roll them into bigger balls, only place 12 on each sheet.  Mine took about 14 minutes in the oven).

*****

Recipe inspired by Food & Wine magazine.  Sampson, Sally.  “How Baking Can Change the World.” Food & Wine November 2011: 130.

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A Tropical Party Kind of Cookie – Chewy Coconut Oatmeal Pineapple Delights

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I’m starting to see a trend with the cookies I’ve been baking – many of them have oatmeal in them!  This is highly amusing to me considering that I’m not the biggest fan of cooked oatmeal.  My parents love it but it’s one of those foods that has never really grown on me.  I’ll eat it, but I won’t love it.  So I don’t know if I’ve been receiving subliminal messages somewhere or if I naturally gravitate towards oatmeal as an ingredient in cookies, but I love the texture it creates in cookies, both chewy ones and crunchy ones.  These, my lovelies, are Pineapple Delights from Joanne Fluke’s Key Lime Pie Murder!  Chewy cookies with dried pineapple, shredded coconut (or coconut flakes), and oatmeal!  I mentioned these in my last Cookie Jar post when I blogged about the delicious recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies and between the two, I did enjoy enjoy the banana chocolate chip ones more initially. 

However, I soon realized what the problem was: the pineapple delights get better with age.  I’ve been noticing that with several different kinds of food over the past little while and the concept feels so foreign to me!  Since when do cookies (and any other food) not taste great fresh out of the oven?!  It’s true though, these pineapple delights are better enjoyed the day after.  And the day after that.  And so on and so forth.  My family and I were enjoying these cookies at their yummiest a WEEK after we baked them!  I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.  So don’t touch that cookie jar until the next day.  I know it’ll be incredibly hard. Wrap your hands with something if you need to.  It’s worth the wait.

Recipe for Pineapple Delights (yields about 4 dozen medium sized cookies when recipe is halved)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butter, melted (4 sticks, 1 pound)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pineapple extract (or you could use vanilla extract)
  • 4 cups flour (*Deb’s note: I used regular all-purpose flour)
  • 2⅟₂cups chopped sweetened dried pineapple (measure after chopping; you can substitute the dried pineapple with any other dried fruit to change up the recipe!)
  • 3 cups rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal)
  • ⅟₂cup chopped coconut flakes (*Deb’s note: I used shredded coconut)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F, rack in the middle position.
  • Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl.  Add the sugars, mix until well incorporated, and let the bowl cool a bit. 
  • Add the beaten eggs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pineapple extract.  (*Deb’s note: Since I didn’t have pineapple extract, I used vanilla extract.  If you’re doing the same, add a little more chopped dried pineapple to the mixture.  I think pineapple juice would enhance the flavour as well, but you would need to add a bit more flour or oatmeal to thicken the dough up).
  • Mix in the flour.  Then add the chopped pineapple, coconut, and rolled oats, mixing them in thoroughly.
  • Drop by teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a sheet.  (*Deb’s note: I rolled my dough into balls using my hands.  The cookies turned out larger than I expected them to, so if you use the rolling method, make them a bit smaller because the dough spreads when they’re baking).
  • Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes.  (*Deb’s note: if you want them chewier, bake them for 12 minutes.  If your oven runs a bit hot like mine, do them for 11 minutes).  Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

These cookies freeze well if you roll them in foil and put them in a freezer bag.

*****

Recipe taken from Joanne Fluke’s Key Lime Pie Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2007.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 32.