Splendid Table: Coconut-orange cookies a fall treat

October 21, 2009|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: What's the deal with melting chocolate and adding liquid to it? One time all's OK; the next time the chocolate clumps, won't melt and I end up with it in the garbage. Should I change chocolate? -- Jess in Medford

Dear Jess: Don't change chocolate. Instead, learn the tricks for handling this tricky ingredient. Here's what you need to know:

First, chocolate needs to be melted at low temperatures, or it burns. Use an instant-reading thermometer to be sure white or milk chocolate doesn't heat over 110 degrees or to be sure semi-sweet or bittersweet does not go over 120.

Second, a drop of liquid will have the chocolate clump and harden, where the right amount of liquid will blend in like silk. So when melting chocolate, do it in a perfectly dry container in the microwave at medium, starting with 2 minutes. Or melt it in a bowl set over a pot of barely bubbling water. Be sure the bowl is not touching the water, and no steam gets near the chocolate.


Safely add liquid to melting chocolate by remembering that you must stir in a minimum of 1 tablespoon liquid (or butter) for every two ounces of chocolate.

Dear Lynne: Do you have a Halloween cookie that is not a spice cookie or an oatmeal cookie? Seems we're always baking the same things for the school party. Thank you. -- Two Moms

Dear Two Moms: Fall brings out the spice and oatmeal urges, but, instead, how about coconut-orange? This recipe is a riff on a sugar cookie that baking expert Dorie Greenspan shared on the show. Make it with a standing mixer or with a hand mix because blending the butter and sugar until it's fluffy makes for a better cookie. Havethe butter at room temperature.


Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Keep these five days in a sealed tin at room temperature, or six months in the freezer. Start the cookies a day before baking as the dough benefits from a long rest and chill.

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour (measured by dipping the measuring cup into the flour and sweeping it level)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 generous cup shredded sweetened coconut

Ingredients for Creaming:

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed cup brown sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 large orange
2 cups orange juice boiled down to a syrupy consistency, about 1/3 cup, and cooled
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

The day before baking, whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a large mixing bowl with a standing mixer or a handheld one, beat together the butter, two sugars and the orange zest at medium speed for four minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Don't go faster than medium speed.

Still at medium speed, beat in the cooled orange syrup. When the batter is smooth, beat in the whole egg, then the yolk and vanilla. Then, using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients only until they are blended. Don't over mix -- you want to protect the dough from toughening.

Turn the dough out on a sheet of plastic wrap, gently gather into a ball, wrap and chill overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment or butter it. With a teaspoon, drop the cool cookie dough onto the sheet, separating the cookies by about 2 inches. Use your thumb to indent the center of each one. Bake 8 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies start to brown at the edges and are cooked through. Bake the cookies in several batches and cool them on a rack.

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