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.

Filed Under: Recipes
Susan Reid
The Author

About Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.