Last Saturday, my friends Bill and Jim hosted a Christmas party at their superbly decorated home. (At last count, I believe the total for illuminated trees--ranging in size from humble to huge--was 34.)
They know how to put on quite a spread. And on top of that, everyone always brings something of his own to contribute to the feast. Jack brings his home-smoked ribs, which are a group favorite. And I, of course, bring my homemade cookies to top off the dessert table.
Bill and Jim and the rest of the boys are fans of my recipes, and I've even started taking requests. At the top of the wishlist of ingredients are coconut, walnuts, and chocolate, and I decided to roll them all into a single cookie for the Christmas party.
Something I saw a few weeks ago on an epsiode of Top Chef: Just Desserts has stuck with me. It came up during a cake challenge when one of the guest judges was Sylvia Weinstock, cake decoratory extraordinaire. One of the contestents made a coconut cake, and Sylvia asked why the person hadn't soaked the coconut in anything to moisten it and, ultimately, the cake. "A-ha!" I thought. "She's talking about enplumpening!"
I soak dried fruit in all sorts of stuff--tea, booze--to get them juicy and plump. But it never occurred to me to try enplumpening coconut. And, boy, does it work. Thanks, Sylvia Weinstock!
Next up: walnuts. I could have toasted them to bring out their nuttiness even more, but I decided to just use a whole mess of them instead. Two cups' worth, as a matter of fact. With that many walnuts in the dough, you're guaranteed to get some crunch in each bite.
The final element was chocolate. A simple twist on a standard semisweet chocolate chip cookie recipe wouldn't do. I had to bust out the milk and the dark chocolate in addition to the standby semisweet chips if I wanted to knock the boys' socks off with this cookie. I used one of those rotary cheese grater contraptions to grind up a big bar of Hershey's milk chocolate, and then I roughly chopped a big bar of Ghirardelli dark chocolate.
The final flavor element was just a hint of cinnamon to tie everything together.
Out of 48 cookies, there were only 3 left at the end of the night. So trust me: These babies are good! Chewy and crunchy, nutty, sweet, and rich. Absolutely delicious.
Makes 4 dozen cookies. (To see this recipe in process, check out Coconut, Walnut, and Chocolate Cookies.)
1 stick butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
|1 1/2 cups coconut
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
|2 cups roughly chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups finely ground oatmeal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 4.4 oz. milk chocolate bar, grated
1 4.4 oz. dark chocolate bar, chopped
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Soak the coconut in the milk, vanilla, and coconut extract for 30-45 minutes. Set aside until Step 6.
- Preheat oven to 350º.
In your Kitchen Aid or a large mixing bowl, cream together the creamables.
In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together until smooth.
Add the combined wet ingredients to the creamables. Mix together until well incorporated.
- Drain the coconut, discarding the remaining liquid. Add the enplumpened coconut to the combined wet ingredients and creamables. Mix together until well incorporated.
In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold together until evenly distributed.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the combined creamables and wet ingredients. Mix until evenly combined.
Scoop dough into balls--about 2 tablespoons each.
- Place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
- Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes. Then place cookies on wire racks to cool.