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Coconut Sticks

I wanted a coconut cookie to serve with the yogurt panna cotta and pineapple granita [1], but have had bad luck with coconut cookies in the past.  I spied the Alice Medrich cookie encyclopedia that had been eagerly awaiting use on my shelf. When the book first arrived in the mail, I was extremely excited that one of my favorite bakers and cookbook authors had dedicated an entire volume to cookies, but then the holidays happened and I got distracted. Until New Year’s Eve, when I opened the book and found this recipe for coconut sticks.

Medrich includes a whole collection of “stick” cookies in the new book, which means the dough if flattened into a slab, chilled, and cut into thin slices. Not revolutionary, but the shape is lovely and it is even easier than rolling into a log. I love learning techniques [2] from Medrich, they are always easily adapted into new and exciting flavors (I want to make a pecan version of these). The buttery cookies are extra crisp (which I love) and perfect for pairing with ice creams and other creamy desserts. This recipe immediately joined the list of cookies that I make on a regular basis. I think you’ll like them too.

***These keep really well, they are as good on day #1 as on day #4.

***As you can see, I wasn’t particularly careful with these. They are “rustic”. You can be a neater and get a more perfect cookie, but they won’t taste any better.

Coconut Stick Cookie (from Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies [3] by Alice Medrich)

Prepare: A 5-x-9-inch loaf pan (optional), lined on the bottom and sides with foil or cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper or greased.

Put the flour, sugar, coconut, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until the butter is reduced to small pieces. With the fingertips of both hands, lightly toss and rub the mixture together until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine the vanilla and water in a small pitcher or cup. Stir the flour and butter mixture with a fork while drizzling the water and vanilla into the bowl. Continue to toss and stir lightly with the fork or your fingers until all of the dry ingredients are slightly damp. The dough should remain crumbly and stick together only when pinched.

If using a loaf pan, dump the mixture into the lined pan and spread it evenly. Press it very firmly, making a thin layer. Or dump the mixture onto a piece of foil on a baking sheet and distribute it evenly over an area about 4 by 9 or 10 inches. Press it firmly, squaring up the edges, to make an even compact layer about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the foil over the dough and wrap it tightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Unwrap the dough and transfer it to a cutting board. Use a long sharp knife to cut the dough crosswise into 1/4-inch (or thinner if possible) slices. Use the knife to transfer each slice to the lined or greased cookie sheets, placing the slices 1 inch apart. The slices will be fragile and require the support of the knife in transit; the results will be worth your careful effort.

Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, until the cookies are golden with golden brown edges. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

For lined pans, set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool; for unlined pans, use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to racks. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing.

May be kept in an airtight container for several days.