Happy Sunday, everyone! We are continuing our journey through the Bars & Cookies chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person, inching our way closer to the midway point of this baking project. This week, we’re bringing you bake number 48, the Coconut Thumbprints.
Hello hello all! I hope you have all been enjoying your week and keeping well! This week has been very hectic and full, but not too full that I wasn’t able to squeeze in my bake; Coconut Thumbprints! This was one I’d been looking forward too for a while…I love anything coconut flavoured and macaroons are one of my favourite things.
This bake is extremely simple and can be done quickly in one afternoon. First you make your dough and bake the cookies. The dough comes together in the stand mixer (using the paddle attachment). It combines lots of butter, powdered sugar, salt, egg yolks, and shredded coconut. The dough is extremely thick and heavy when it comes together.
You then form the thumbprint cookies; I used a tablespoon measure to collect the dough, then rolled them in my hand into balls. Once I had made balls with all of the dough (I ended up being able to make about 42 cookies), I used the end of a wooden spoon to make the holes in the middle, then went over them all with my hands to widen. In retrospect, I don’t think I pushed down hard enough when making the holes, because they ended up being a bit shallow, but they still worked!
Once the cookies were formed, I put them in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes, then baked them in the oven for about 20 minutes. The book said to bake until the cookies are golden all over which was tricky to get. I found for me, my cookies got pretty golden on the bottoms and sides after like 15 minutes but the tops weren’t, so I kept leaving them in. Well, the tops never got golden really and the bottoms just continued to bake, so my advice would be to just go with what’s happening on the bottom/sides of the cookie.
Once the cookies are done, you leave them to cool while you make your coconut caramel. I was DETERMINED this time to make an excellent caramel because I have slightly burnt every single one I’ve done so far. This was a wet caramel, so it just starts with sugar, corn syrup (finally another use for it!), and some water. Once it has boiled down and is amber in colour (I went a bit before amber), you remove from heat and add coconut milk, coconut oil and salt, which I thought was such a cool switch from heavy cream. The caramel still tastes so rich but it’s lactose friendly, which my partner was excited about.
Once the caramel has cooled and thickened slightly, you fill the thumbprints. I ended up being able to pour about 1/2 teaspoon plus a bit more into each one. Some of them I was a bit over zealous and they split over a tad. The filled cookies are left to cool a bit longer to let the caramel set and then you’re done!
On my first try of this cookie, I was disappointed. I went into it expecting that quintessential chewiness of a macaron, but instead, this cookie is more crumbly and buttery like a shortbread. Once I got over that, I tried it again and really enjoyed it with my new set of expectations. There is so much coconut flavour packed into this little cookie, that you can’t mistake what type of cookie it is! And I did nail the caramel and it is so delicious. They are a bit intense with coconut, so I find they aren’t the type of cookie you want to have multiple of, but they are quite good. 4 stars from me!
I am a HUGE coconut lover, so when I saw that these cookies had coconut in the dough itself PLUS a coconut-flavoured caramel to spoon into the middle, I was pumped to say the least. By now, I’ve developed a great love of making caramel, and we haven’t had a chance to make any special components like this since finishing the Pies & Tarts chapter, so I was also looking forward to using some of these other skills again.
It’s been interesting writing these last few blog posts because I feel like nothing overly story-worthy has been happening during the cookie-baking process. That said, I did finally bake my fruitcakes and THAT was a journey, so stay tuned for more on the week-long debacle that was involved in getting those babies prepped and ready to feed. They are currently nestled in their little beds waiting for next week’s shot of brandy.
These thumbprint cookies came together in the stand mixer with a combination of butter, powdered sugar, eggs, flour, salt, and shredded coconut—a shortbread-esque dough with basically a one-to-one ratio of flour and coconut for added texture and obviously flavour.
Once I had my dough, I portioned out little balls using my scale, placed them on baking trays lined with parchment paper, and then shaped them by pressing down on each ball and then using my thumb to make that signature little dip in the middle of each cookie. Once all my cookies were formed, they sat in the fridge to firm up for about 20 minutes.
At this point, I got started on the caramel. The process was exactly the same as any caramel—sugar and water in a pot brought to a boil and monitored closely until you get that deep amber colour. In this case, some light corn starch was also added which I think was meant to help the caramel firm up as it cooled. The main difference here was that, instead of pouring cream into your caramel at the end to create the sauce, coconut milk is used. There were also a couple tablespoons of coconut oil added in at the end, and a dash of salt. This caramel was BOMB and I would make it on its own again and again (much like the other caramel recipes in this book). It would be so good on ice cream.
Once the cookies were baked, some of the caramel was spooned into the thumbprint centre. I did find that my cookies took way less time to bake than what was indicated in the book, so a few came out a lot darker than I would have liked.
These had all the coconut flavour you would hope for, and the shredded coconut in the cookie added great texture. These were still a bit drier than I expected or would have liked, but the addition of the caramel in the middle definitely helped balance things out. It is a 4-star bake for me!
Coming up next week: the long-anticipated Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies!