Toasted Coconut Shortbread

by byn on December 7, 2010

in Cookies

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Nicole is spending Christmas far, far away from home this year, as she’s going to Cambodia for the organization she volunteers with. For some reason, it only *just* dawned on her that she’ll be missing out on all types of Christmas activities, and she was feeling a little forlorn.  Last year we did it up right cooking ourselves an amazing Smitten Kitchen Christmas dinner. This year, it’s all about the cookies.

She thought about what she wanted to make (either to give away in gift bags or stick in the freezer in the event of an impromptu Christmas party), and I chimed in with my two cents, and we came up with a couple of ideas. The cookies had to be easy to transport, fairly quick (i.e. no royal icing), delicious and fun. So she came over last Saturday, I plugged in my pre-lit, undecorated Christmas tree, turned on some Christmas carols, and we got to work.

First up were these Toasted Coconut Shortbread cookies.  As of now, I only own one cookie cutter, so they were all snowflakes. I went through my Mom’s supply of cookie cutters, but as they are all from about 1972, I didn’t take any.  Anyway, I tried to discourage Nicole from choosing any roll-out cookies, because the process can be time consuming (mix, wrap, chill, roll, cut, bake, ice), but I’m so glad she over-ruled me! The cookies themselves were very nice – buttery and crisp, with a little bit of coconut flavour – but what won me over was the decorating! We mixed up a little bit of royal icing, poured it into squeeze bottles (Nicole loved this part), and piped out simple snowflake decorations. A little sprinkle of coarse sugar (the majority of which ended up on the floor!) gave the cookies a little bit of shimmer and sparkle. Love!

I stored my half of the batch in the freezer, and ate most of them brought in a few for a bake sale we had at work last week for United Way. My co-workers were very impressed! I plan on using the same decorating technique on some gingerbread cookies in the not-too-distant future.

Toasted Coconut Shortbread

Source: Smitten Kitchen


1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), room temperature

1 cup + 2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

2 2/3 cup flour


  1. Spread coconut on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 for about 8 minutes, stirring a few times, until it is golden and toasty. Cool completely, the grind in a food processor or blender until coarsely ground.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until well blended. Mix in salt and vanilla. Stir in flour in two additions.
  3. Gather dough together, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  4. Roll out dough on a well floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes and transfer to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. You can re-roll the dough scraps, but note that the cookies get less cute with each re-roll.
  5. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes, rotating cookie sheets back to front and top to bottom halfway through cooking time. Let cool for 10 minutes on cookie sheets, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
  6. Optional: If you want to pipe on some quick decorations like we did, mix 1 cup icing sugar with 1/2 tbsp meringue powder and 1 tbsp water. Transfer to a a squeeze bottle or a ziploc bag (snip the corner off to decorate) to pipe on details. Sprinkle with coarse sugar for shimmer and shine!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nicole February 15, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Yes! I decided it was time for another Byn baking tutorial. Why? We’ll I’m more of a cook (and tend not to follow instructions). Seeing that we’re in Byn’s kitchen I usually let her take control and suggest delicious treats to bake- but as she mentioned she wasn’t keen on cut-out cookies. But they totally remind me of Christmas and I was going to away this year! Sniff. Anyhoo- Byn stepped it up with a toasted coconut twist AND these cookies were amazing! My only regret was not making more….


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