Chocolate coconut cookies have intriguing spice notes
If you've been a reader of my column these past many years, you know you can expect one thing from me as surely as the fact that I love to help people cook and eat the best food possible: When December rolls around, at some point I'm going to turn my attention to Christmas cookies.
My love of holiday baking goes back to my earliest childhood memories. Every year, the kitchen of our little home in the southern Austrian town of Sankt Veit an der Glan seemed always full of the rich, sweet, and spicy aromas of Christmas cookies being baked by my mother and grandmother. Guests who dropped by were offered cookies with coffee or tea.
When we visited friends, we brought assortments of our homemade holiday treats. And, of course, my brother, sisters and I ate plenty of the cookies ourselves at home, some of which we'd be served as snacks or desserts -- and some, of course, that the four of us would sneak when the grownups weren't looking.
This year, I'd like to share with you yet another cookie recipe you haven't seen from me before in this column: Chocolate Coconut Spice Cookies, a classic from Spago. I think they make a great cookie to add to your seasonal repertoire, for a number of reasons.
First of all, they're easy to make. I think that is essential not only because this is the busiest cooking time of the year but also because they are something the whole family can enjoy preparing together.
You probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry or can find them in any supermarket. And, being slice-and-bake cookies, the dough can be mixed in advance and kept chilled in the refrigerator, ready for baking as needed.
Next comes the wonderful way in which these cookies are both familiar and yet different enough to make people open their eyes with surprise and delight at first bite. At first glance, they're simply chocolate-flavored, buttery cookies with an attractive rim of shredded coconut. But the very first bite reveals a very pleasing surprise: very subtle but noticeable hints of black pepper and cayenne, not too spicy at all but just enough to counterpoint and emphasize the delicious chocolaty flavor.
When you think about how many other traditional Christmas cookies have the word "spice" in their names, you'll instantly understand how perfectly appropriate these seasonings are here.
With the recipe's yield of five dozen cookies, easily multiplied if you allow yourself sufficient time to make several batches, you'll have enough to share as festive gifts. Pack the cooled cookies in colorful airtight containers, with single layers separated by sheets of waxed paper. They're a gift anyone on your list will welcome!
CHOCOLATE COCONUT SPICE COOKIES