I saw a recent post on Smitten Kitchen that featured coconut shortbread, and I thought that would be perfect for a belated birthday present for a dear friend of mine, Anne, who is coo-coo for coconut.
Whereas Smitten Kitchen used a Bon Apetit recipe to get things started, my go-to shortbread comes from a wonderful cookbook by Jennifer McLagan unabashedly called Fat. Her book is worth a read and can be found here. In it, she details one delightful trick for crispy, buttery shortbread: a bit of rice flour mixed in with all-purpose. Flecked with sea salt, her shortbread is buttery and crumbly but also salty and crisp.
I used her recipe as a base for my version of Coconut Shortbread.
yield: one 8 or 9-inch square pan of shortbread batons or a similar round pan of wedges
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, plus additional for buttering the pan
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- pinch of salt
- granulated sugar for sprinkling, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut over a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook, stirring every couple minutes, until evenly browned, about 10-12 minutes total. Set aside to cool. Once cool, pulse in a food processor, coffee grinder, or with a mortar and pestle to crush. The result shouldn’t be a fine powder, but it should resemble coarse crumbs. Toasted coconut can be made well in advance and kept in a covered container.
Lightly butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch square or round baking tin, ideally with a removable bottom.
Combine the chilled butter and sugar and mix in the bowl of a stand mixer to combine, about 15 seconds. Add in both flours, salt, and the coarsely crushed coconut. Mix on low until the dough comes together, about 3 – 5 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and, on a floured surface, roll to roughly the size of the pan. Place the dough in the pan, pressing it to the sides. Using a fork, prick the dough all over, right through to the bottom of the tin.
Refrigerate the dough for one hour.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little granulated sugar if you like, and bake until the shortbread is just firm in the center and beginning to color, about one hour. In a dark pan like mine, I kept the temperature the same since it was relatively low, but the cooking time was only about 50-52 minutes.
While it’s still warm – and using a sharp knife – score the shortbread into batons or wedges, and transfer the shortbread still in the pan to a wire rack to cool. When cold, remove the shortbread from the tin and cut into the previously-scored shapes.
Personally, I enjoyed these treats, but I thought they could use even more coconut… and why not a little chocolate too?