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Friday, January 31, 2020

Coconut Shortbread


For someone who loves food, loves to think about food, loves to talk about food as much as I do, I'm really bad at recording and remembering all the things I've loved. Sure, it's easy enough to forget failures and dishes gone wrong, but horrifyingly enough, it seems to be just as easy to forget the triumphs, those fabled, beloved dishes we vow to make again and again.

In an effort to remember better - and also to keep some sort of record of my life - I've started keeping two little notebooks in the kitchen. One is a catalog of my weekly CSA deliveries and what I've cobbled together with the bounty, and the other focuses on the dinners I cook for others. What did I make? Who attended? Did anything especially salacious occur? The answer to that last question is almost always a resounding YES.

I know these notebooks will be of little interest to anyone but me, but even now, just a year after I started jotting it all down, I find myself flipping through them from time to time. Sometimes, I'm seeking inspiration. Sometimes, I simply want to be transported back to another time. Most of the time, I'm just trying to remember what the f**k I ate.

Recently, I started to feel a little despondent that there is this gaping hole in my culinary history. There are years and years worth of wonderful things I've made that I cannot for the life of me remember. But a conversation with a dear old friend bemoaning just this reminded me that, in fact, that was not quite the case. Because after all, I had this blog.

It may have lain mostly dormant (much like my 'love' life) over the last decade, but occasionally, I'd pop back in to share a recipe. So while it may be just a loose skeleton, scrolling down the homepage here gives me little flashes of memory, little indications of what I was eating and what I was cooking. And I like that.

I'm certainly not going to promise I'll post on here more (also, apart from a few robots, I'm pretty sure no one is reading this stupid thing anymore), but I will make small efforts to keep on recording. I hope that somewhere down the line, I'll be able to look back and say, "Damn, I ate well."

Now for what you're probably here for. If you're here at all, that is. Without further ado, I present these toasty, sandy little fellas. I give you: coconut shortbread.

Coconut Shortbread
2 ¼ cups spelt flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon salt
200 grams good unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup toasted sugar (you’ll need to toast it in the oven ahead of time – I recommend doing a bigger batch so you have it on hand. You simply put it in a glass baking dish at 300 degrees and toast for about 2 hours until it’s golden and fragrant. You’ll need to stir it every 30 mins to make sure it isn’t burning)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
Crystal sugar for sprinkling


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a square baking tin with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together spelt flour, coconut and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and toasted sugar until light and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved somewhat. Add vanilla and almond extracts and beat to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to mixer, beating until just combined. It will be a bit crumbly, but that’s ok. Press the dough into the prepared baking tin until it’s snug and the surface is more or less level. Cover and let rest in fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. Once it’s chilled, score the dough with a sharp knife into desired shortbread shapes. Prick the top of the dough with a fork. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top has browned slightly and you can smell that delicious scent wafting from the oven. The top of the cookies will also feel firm to the touch. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, slice along the scores you’ve made and allow to cool completely. Enjoy with a nice milky cup of tea!


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