Coconut: Irresistible, exotic, luscious, compelling!

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What is it about coconut that’s so attractive? Enshrined in popular culture from South Pacific to the Marx Brothers to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it’s a food that’s provided as much entertainment as sustenance.I’ll admit, until a few years ago, it was a food I could take or leave with equal aplomb. I think the breakthrough happened in a restaurant kitchen where I was working, and someone made coconut shrimp with mango salsa for an appetizer one evening. Holy cow, was that good! Ever since, it’s been Katy bar the door, further cemented when King Arthur started carrying our dried coconut milk powder, and I started playing. I added it to classic buttercream, and used the resulting frosting on top Kahlua-soaked chocolate cake layers for a colleague’s wedding cake.

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I started putting it in cake batters, and came up with Coconut Cake, where it performed like a champion next to our coconut flavoring.

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That lead to Coconut Lamingtons, drenched in raspberry syrup and rolled in more coconut.cocoraspteacakes_450w.jpg

I figured out that it made a great stabilizer for whipped cream, and tried it on top of our guaranteed Chocolate Cream Pie. I put it into the filling for the recent Fudgy Coconut Cream Cake from theIllinois State Fair.

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Sue Gray got busy with it too, and came up with Coconut Rum Cake, Coconut Doughnuts and teamed it with chocolate Schmear for a Coconut Marble Cake.

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I’ve added it to curries, to rice with scallions for coconut rice, and I’m still not close to done, because I have plans for recipes for coconut rice pudding (possibly baked in ramekins with caramel underneath, so it can be inverted like flan) and for coconut tempura batter for shrimp.Not long ago, I had a hankering for a chewy, moist coconut cookie with dark chocolate in it. I looked around and didn’t find any recipes that were coming close to the taste in my head, so I made this one up (with the help of my new best kitchen friend and ingredient) and put it out for comments. I’m calling them Chewy Coconut Chocolate Chunks.

Once in the tasting kitchen, a rare and wonderful thing happened. There wasn’t a single naysayer, which isn’t easy to do around here. Check out some of the things people wrote:

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When the need for a coconut recipe came up from the web team, all eyes turned my way, with a plea for that cookie I’d just come up with. So be it. This one will be arriving in mailboxes via the Spring issue of The Baking Sheet, too, so consider it a taste test for all of you who haven’t yet subscribed! As recipes go, this one’s pretty simple. Anyone who’s ever made a chocolate chip cookie will have no trouble here. You’ll have to choose your chocolate, though. I was on the fence between these two:

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I decided on the look of the chunks, and I’ve always liked the faintly fruity notes in our burgundy chunks.

But I’m sure the extreme dark chips would be a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the dough. I chose our large flake unsweetened coconut, because I thought the size would match the chunks nicely; I also liked its texture; not as shredded as the usual grocery store sweetened stuff. (By the way, I washed the quarter before I let it touch the food.)

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The final ingredient dance card? Here you go:

3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) coconut milk powder

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon coconut flavoring

2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) large flake unsweetened or unsweetened coconut

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) bittersweet, extreme dark chocolate chips or burgundy chunks

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Get your baking sheets ready, either by greasing or with parchment.

Dig out the tablespoon cookie scoop. First, cream together the butter, coconut milk powder, and sugars. Coconut milk powder has a lot of fat in it, so it tends to clump. I always stir it through a large wire mesh strainer to get rid of these as I’m adding it to my mixing bowl.

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Once everything is together and fluffy,cream.jpg

beat in the egg, corn syrup, and flavorings.

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The corn syrup works with the coconut milk powder to make this a chewy cookie.

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Scrape.

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Whisk together the dry ingredients.

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Add to the butter mixture and mix well.

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Scrape.

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Mix in the coconut (I really liked the contrast and texture the large flake coconut brought to the party) and the bittersweet chips or burgundy chunks.

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Put that tablespoon scoop to work and scoop onto the prepared baking sheets.

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This dough doesn’t spread when you bake it, so it’s a good idea to give the scooped cookies a bit of a smoosh before you put them in the oven.

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If you wanted to, you could scoop all the batter, placing the balls of dough close together, and freeze the whole business for an hour. (See PJ’s blog FREEZE!).

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Once the dough is hard, collect and place the unbaked cookies in a zip-top freezer bag. Now you have what I like to refer to as the “freezer stash”. You can pull out a few at a time when you get a hankering for warm cookies, without having to start from square one. Let them sit on the baking sheet while the oven comes up to temperature. They may need another minute or two to bake.Or, just go for broke and bake ‘em all. They take between 9 and 11 minutes, depending on your oven’s proclivities. Look for the hint of gold around the edge; that’s when you want to pull ‘em.

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Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes before you transfer them onto a rack, or start snitching…I think these would make mighty fine ice cream sandwiches, actually. I’d go for the caramel swirl ice cream in the middle, personally, but I’m sure you’ve ideas of your own about how best to enjoy Chewy Coconut Chunk Cookies.

Susan Reid
About

Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently enjoying her fourth career after stints in advertising, running restaurants, and teaching at the New England Culinary Institute. She joined King Arthur in 2002 to ...

comments

  1. Lish

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the coconut milk powder! And these cookies will be the perfect treat this weekend. Coconut always makes me think warm weather, and will be a great treat after working in the garden this weekend, the first weekend we can work in the garden! Lots to be excited about!

    I’m with you, Lish! Between Daylight Savings time and temps in the 60s, I’m tempted to sneak some lettuce seeds into the ground between the rounds of Pick-up-sticks in the yard! As for the coconut milk powder, I don’t know what I’d do without it! Susan

    Reply
  2. PJH

    AWESOME blog, Susan. Can’t believe all that luscious coconut stuff you led off with, and then to the cookies – best cookies ever – OO-LA-LA, you’re killin’ me!! :) PJH

    Thanks, pal. Payback for all that garlic and onion torture you inflict, chased with a layer of warm cheesiness at the other end of the kitchen! S

    Reply
  3. LF

    These look like perfect cookies to give my father for his birthday coming up. Thanks for the post!

    You’re entirely welcome. Susan

    Reply
  4. AmandaLP

    Babycakes NYC (a wonderful gluten free cupcake bakery in New York City) uses coconut flour in their frostings, as well as coconut oil in their cupcakes. I do not really like coconut, but you cannot taste it in their frostings :)

    One of the nice things about the coconut milk powder is that it’s really kind of subtle. One of my colleagues has used it in white cake for her son, who says he doesn’t like coconut, and without added coconut flavoring he’s never caught on. Susan

    Reply
  5. Nupur

    Do you sell this coconut milk powder in stores in St. Louis, do you know? It sounds wonderful and I love coconut.

    We sell it online, and you can often find it in coop or health food stores; there’s a brand from Thailand that comes in a green box; you might want to give those a try. Susan

    Reply
  6. Marianna

    So many coconut baked goods disappoint because they are usually just flavored vanilla with some sweetened coconut thrown on top. Layering coconut flavors is the key to making something that causes a coconut lover to swoon! These cookies are screaming my name and I think I HAVE to place an order today to get all the coconut ingredients together and start baking!

    Marianna: I agree completely. I’ve always believed in building flavors, either from the bottom of the pan up or in the mixing bowl. Susan

    Reply
  7. SteveB

    I would imagine that breads, too, can benefit from the use of KA’s dried coconut milk powder. It should work quite well in this sweet bread for those on a dairy-free diet:

    http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=319

    I don’t see why not. It works partly as a fat replacer, and partly as a moisture retaining ingredient. Susan

    Reply
  8. Mrs. Hamlet

    I don’t know what you guys did to the blog, or if my computer’s just been funky these last couple of days, but if you did in fact change the it to make the font bigger and the background white instead of tan, pleeeease change it back. It’s super ugly, harder to read, and makes me not want to read it anymore….which is unfortunate, because I love coconut!
    Goodness, I don’t know if we did change things, unless I missed the memo. I’ll have to check with Halley and let her know. Thanks for the feedback. ~ MaryJane

    You may want to try another browser or try updating the one you have. What you’re describing is frequently a browser incompatibility issue. Susan

    Yes, we did change the look – white background, larger type. Customer feedback on change was under discussion today, but it’s going to stand – the vast majority seem to like it. Sorry, Mrs. H…. PJH

    Reply
  9. Catie

    I just received a box of your gluten free mixes. But I forgot to order the GF flour! I will have to order some and the coconut and chocolate ingredients. Two of my favorite flavors ever!
    Do you think it will work with these subs?

    No, converting a recipe to gluten-free will take more than just an ingredient substitution. For more info I suggest this site: http://www.csaceliacs.org/recipes.php Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  10. Heather

    YummmYY!!!! IMy husband loce coconut, soi should make them. I want to use coconut milk( which i have in pantry already). How do i substitute it?
    Heather, unfortunately coconut milk will give too much liquid for these cookies. Joan @KAF

    Reply
  11. Sheila

    I will definitely be making these soon – I love love love coconut and still have some of your coconut milk powder. (I also use it regularly in a lime/coconut quick bread that is my favorite quick bread EVAH).

    Hard to believe this recipe wasn’t already out there somewhere, isn’t it Sheila? I’ve found that coconut lovers are either all in or not at all. Hope you enjoy them as much as we have. Susan

    Reply
  12. Kathi

    Another mouth-watering recipe I can’t wait to try. Mounds candy is my favorite, and I won’t buy it for all the junk in it. But this is different right?

    Of course I will need to order a couple of things and/or check on the pantry, which brings me to a suggestion. If anyone thinks it is a good idea, perhaps you will pass it to where it should go. I know you folks have a link to the products you carry, but it is a cumbersome route to get an order placed and then get back to the blog to continue. Perhaps you could create a wishlist option. Then as we read through the post, when an item is available, it would have an ‘add to wishlist’ option as well as the link, and we could just click on it, it is added to the wishlist, and we can continue reading without interuption. When finished, you are then able to check the list and either order it, delete it, research it, etc. Come to think of it, this would be helpful in the recipes section also, and of course in order section. I don’t know about anyone else, but to me this would be a great help.

    p.s. Hope you all enjoy your spring, it is only 24* and snow here. Yes, I am pouting, but now I can make cookies.

    Kathi: that is a GREAT useability idea, and I will be sure and flag your suggestion to our web architects. Susan

    Reply
  13. Christina

    Those cookies look awesome! I am going to have to try and find some dairy free coconut milk powder and give it a whirl.

    I’d absolutely buy yours but it has milk proteins (diary) in it! :( I had seen someone’s comment about using it in a diary free diet and this version doesn’t cut it. It’s similar to my dilemma with the cinnamon filling sugar with the cinnamon rolls as it also contains dairy ingredients (sodium caseinate).

    Any idea what might work if the diary free powder is MIA? I have liquid coconut milk that comes in the can, but I know that would cause liquid ratio issues. I don’t know where I could compensate…the “butter” perhaps (I use Earth Balance) Everything else I can work around easily enough.
    Maybe you will be able to find a local store offering dairy free coconut cream or powder which you can use. The liquid will make the dough too wet. Joan @KAF

    Reply
  14. kristina

    Can I substitute coconut cream powder for the coconut milk powder?
    Yes this will work just fine. Joan @ KAF

    Reply
  15. Alison T

    I am dying to make these but can’t get out to find unsweetened coconut (or to wait for an order :) – so if all’s I gots is regular sweetened coconut, any idea how to adapt??? I guess lower the sugar content… or deal with it being too sweet! Open to suggestion here in SLC!

    I wish it were that simple. These are 2 completely different ingredients. The difficulty is this. The sugar in the recipe gives structure. The sugar in the sweetened coconut can not perform this job. I really suggest you hold off until you have the correct ingredients for success. Frank @ KAF.

    Frank, sorry to contradict you here, but these will work with sweetened coconut; if you back off the amount of white sugar by 2 to 3 tablespoons, it’ll work. Susan

    Reply
  16. Tanya

    I support what Kathi said. For a long time I’ve thought what a great idea it would be to have a “wishlist” option – so that I can add to, and keep, a list of the items I regularly buy and those that I would like to try. Sometimes I am in a hurry to place an order for say, flour, and would like to add some other items but do not have the time to go through the whole catalogue. It would be useful for me to have a shortlist of those items I have been thinking of buying. And to access it whilst browsing through recipes would be immensely helpful! Pretty please!

    Reply
  17. Robin in Washington

    If I wanted to add some coconut milk powder to your gluten-free sandwich bread, how much would I add and would I need to reduce any ingredient?

    Robin – Try adding 1/2 – 3/4 c. coconut milk powder to your dry ingredients. You may keep the warm milk as your liquid or replace it with water or do half water, half milk. Then, add more or less coconut milk powder the next time to suit your taste. Elisabeth @ KAF

    Reply
  18. Beth

    These coconut desserts looks so good! I love coconut and keep some in my house all the time — I use it for cookies, ice cream, cakes, pastries, etc.! yum!

    Reply
  19. RobynB

    I like the idea of a wishlist – I usually just keep adding things to the cart, and they seem to stay there for quite a while so I can accumulate an order… but a wishlist would be nice for future stuff, too. Another suggestion: Is there any way to add a list of the recipes that use an ingredient on the ingredient’s order page? The search function isn’t always as helpful as it should be, and I have this ongoing issue where I see an ingredient in one of your recipes, buy the ingredient, and then by the time I received it I cannot remember the recipe in which I spotted it. Your recipes and blogs are the impetus for me to buy many items, but keeping track is tricky, and I find myself with a pantry full of random ingredients and no idea how to use them :-)

    Thanks!
    Thanks for the great feedback Robyn. We’ll certainly forward it along to the team. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. kristina

    I actually used sweetened coconut, it’s all I could find. I just removed a couple tablespoons of the sugar and the cookies turned out perfectly! What a wonderful cookie. I love how they stay chewy after their cooled. A definite keeper!

    Thanks, Kristina! I’ve made these with sweetened as well, and you made just the right move. So happy you liked them! Susan

    Reply
  21. KimberlyD

    I like the new look to this blog. And boy was my mouth watering reading all the different coconut recipes! I love coconut in just about anything! Mounds is my favorite candy bar (I don’t like almonds so “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t” lol) I make coconut cheesecake, but always bought the flakes at my local store, I think your large flakes would work better! This cookie is a must on my list to bake. I also thought of making this cookie but add coco powder to it and maybe white chocolate chips? Do you think that will work?

    I think cocoa would probably work; I’d substitute 1/2 cup cocoa for 1/2 cup of the flour. Let us know how they come out! Susan

    Reply
  22. Doris Lee

    Would you please hurry up with the coconut rice pudding recipe? I know exactly how wonderful it will taste and I can’t wait.

    You know, Doris, I just noticed there’s a little too much milk in the test kitchen frige, so I may have to go get that started right now. I’ll keep you posted! Susan

    Reply
  23. Alison T

    I lovelovelove the idea of what recipes “go with” what ingredient. I have a few ingredients I bought last year (pizza dough flavor? among others) and I have zero recollection of what I bought them for! I use the cart as a wishlist, but then same problem – what recipe did I put that in my cart for? So I wholeheartedly second the suggestion above by RobynB.

    Also – Frank@KAF – thanks for responding to my post above, I actually have a food science degree and am pretty familiar with sugar’s role, which was why I was afraid to cut it back much and thus just deal with the “overly sweet” cookies! So I’m glad to know that Susan already tried it with success. I get so frustrated when people yank piles of sugar out of a recipe and wonder what’s wrong in their online reviews/comments!!! I only reduce or change an ingredient amount by 5-10% per iteration to determine what impact it will have! Plus the whole interaction of sugar and liquid, etc….

    THANKS for a great blog! I’m going to get the coconut you have and taste test both ways with my family! Once a food scientist, always a food scientist :)

    So many tweaks to try, so little time….Susan

    Reply
  24. luz

    This recipe will be a favorite in my house I’m sure. Question.. Do you think fresh flaked coconut would work or perhaps add too much moisture? Thanks
    Hmmm. Good question. More moisture will give you a cakier cookie, but if it’s shaved thin, I think it’s certainly worth a try. Now I’m wishing I had a hammer and one of those bad boys right now! Susan

    Reply
  25. Susan

    I just bought all the coconut King Arthur supplies you have blogged about. After getting my catalog yesterday all I can think about is coconut cake, with raspberry filling, coconut cupcakes topped with the large unsweetened shavings and now, thanks to your blog, Kahlua soaked coconut cakes–I have some Kahlua Syrup in my cupboard I’ve been looking to use! I’ve been a longtime supporter and promoter of KAF, and been to a few bread demos, (where I won a treasured scraper)! I have a friend who loves Pina Colada anything-and I have an old Pina Colada Cheesecake recipe I might tweak now-perfect for Easter! When you live in a snow belt, anything that reminds you of summer/beaches helps! Thanks for your great ideas Susan and thanks KAF for the superior products & knowledge shared!

    Funny you should say Pina Colada, Susan, because I JUST gave Mary Jane a lime sandwich cookie with coconut filling (made with you-know-what!) and cream cheese. It will be in the Summer Baking Sheet. Susan

    Reply
  26. Linda

    I was looking forward to baking these cookies and used KAF ingredients, and weighed the ingredients. They came out really dry. Batter seemed dry, baked cookies were dry. So many other people loved them I can’t think of what I did wrong. They were not overcooked, baked on insulated cookie sheets lined with paper. Not an overly strong coconut taste either. I think I’d like just the Toll House recipe and adding coconut flavor, chocolate and the big coconut flakes.

    Linda: The dough does seems drier than you think it should when you make it, but maybe your flour is dry from winter. You could try another tablespoon of corn syrup, and that might tilt things back where they belong. Or back off 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour. You can always hit it with a bit more coconut flavoring, too. The coconut Milk powder is very subtle. Susan

    Reply
  27. Carol Schreck

    My local health food store has coconut flour. Is that a different product?
    Yes, coconut milk powder is different from coconut flour. You’ll need the milk powder for the recipe. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  28. Hilary Cable

    I just bought the ingredients for these cookies, which are my idea of heaven. Dark chocolate and coconut? Like Mounds Bars in a cookie! Hey wait… hmmm :) Can’t wait for the package to arrive!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      I haven’t done a lot of testing with coconut water, because it’s not something that I can put my hands on easily where we are. Coconut water wouldn’t have the fat content that coconut milk does, so recipes would need to be adjusted to account for that. I see no reason why it couldn’t stand in for milk in a cake or muffin recipe, though. Susan

  29. kh

    Can I use coconut milk powder in italian meringe buttercream to give it a coconut flavor? If so, how much should I add to your recipe for IMB and at what point should I add it? (I tried using coconut extract and did not like the flavor – very chemical). Thank you.I would use a natural coconut extract…or Mexican vanilla has a very coco-nutty flavor. You can also use coconut flavored rum or liquor. I don’t think the coconut powder will be good for that application, but if you were to try it I would add with the butter. betsy@kaf

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      I’ve used it in Italian Buttercream many times. Strain the powder first, so there are no lumps. It doesn’t hurt to mix the powder (I’ve gone up to 1/2 cup) with some of the soft butter for the frosting, as Betsy says.

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