Coconut Sticks

I wanted a coconut cookie to serve with the yogurt panna cotta and pineapple granita, 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 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 by Alice Medrich)

  • 1 1/4 cups (5.625 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (4.625 ounces) sugar
  • 1 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

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.

31 comments to “Coconut Sticks”

  1. yum! and I am loving the bumper crop of posts in 2011.

  2. Ha! Claire, that is what happens when I take a break. I keep cooking but end up with a pile-up of posts. I’ve still got a few more from over the holidays! Stay tuned.

  3. I really want this cookbook. Cookie heaven!

  4. i wish i liked coconut! these look so beautiful! nice work.

  5. I really want to get my hands on that cookbook too! I’m putting a hold on it at the library. These cookies look amazing, and I’m not just saying that because I love coconut and cookies (well maybe).

  6. No way. Rustic looks like the way you should go for these. They have a great look to them. And they also look deceivingly buttery, which is a good thing.

  7. I can picture one of these perched lovingly atop key lime cheesecake. I luckily am going to make said cheesecake, and now, thanks to you, the perfect accompaniment. Yay!! I love your blog, your pictures are gorgeous and you make such delicious sounding unique things!

  8. Tim, I swore I wouldn’t want another cookbook for at least a month and now you’re gone and done it to me with these cookies . . . because me and coconut go waaayyyyyy back! I like it when you’re on break and you have posts stored up – bring ’em on! Happy New Year Tim! Debra

  9. i just got this cookbook, too, and am loving reading her techniques. the only thing missing is lots of photos, so i’m glad you’re posting some!

  10. Just picked this up from the library! Can’t wait to try some recipes. Have you tried Kim Boyce’s coconut cookie recipe? I haven’t yet, but I’m very interested!

  11. These look sooo good! I’ll definitely be making these soon. My mom and I will love them – were coconut fanatics!!

  12. I bet this dough would be fantastic pressed into tartlet pans and used for key lime pie. Thanks for sharing it!

  13. I can’t wait to try these. Coconut is heaven.

  14. I can hardly wait to make these cookies! Your photo just popped off the screen and screamed “make me”! Happy New Year!!

  15. I love Alice Medrich’s baking style! I own Pure Dessert and Bittersweet and have tried many of her wafer and cookie recipes. I was wondering if Chewy, Gooey, Crispy… covers new ground or simply compiles her cookie recipes. What are your thoughts?

  16. Hey Emily, Good question! I would say it is somewhere in between. There are definitely familiar recipes, but also a bunch of new ones. I think Pure Dessert remains her best work and if I could only have one of her books, it would be that one. You should definitely check it out in person before buying it.

  17. What I wouldn’t give for a crispy coconut cookie right now! I love how pretty they are in your glass cookie jar.

  18. yummy yummy!

  19. Rustic cookies are so pretty, I think. Only 1/4 inch wide? They truly are sticks. My husband gave me Gourmet’s Cookie Book for Christmas, so in spite of our healthy New Year’s resolutions, I’ll be baking (more) cookies soon, too. Damn the calories – nothing a walk around the block (or farmer’s market) won’t take care of.

  20. When I made these the other day I don’t think I pressed the dough down hard enough. When I went to cut them they completely crumbled apart. I ended up baking all the crumbs anyway, and ended up with a delicious topping for yogurt, etc.

  21. Hi Lyndsey- I have been experimenting with other flavors of these and once that happened to me too. I ended up re-crumbling the dough and adding a little more water and then re-pressing it into the pan. Worked like a charm. But sorry for the frustration with this batch!

  22. I just got a copy of this book recently and have been a bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of recipes that are tempting me! I can’t seem to make up my mind which to try first. It looks like these were easy to make and quite successful for you. I like the fact that the dough comes together by hand and that there is no rolling out required.

  23. I made these today and they are AWESOME! I must make some more asap because the whole family loves them and they’re almost gone. BUT, after a few test-slices, I had to re-form the dough with a lot more water because it would not hold its shape when cut. I was concerned it would affect the taste or texture since the dough ended up being a lot wetter – but I am happy to report that the cookies came out wonderful!! They required about 10-12 more minutes in the oven to brown and crisp, but I think they actually taste better than the first few slices I baked from the original dough. Thanks for the recipe! I’m waiting for the book to arrive in mail so I can try other recipes.

  24. Hi Danielle,
    Awesome! So glad these worked for you. Getting the moisture level correct is a little tricky, but they seem very forgiving.

  25. oh yum! these sound delicious! Esp with a cuppa.

  26. man i wish i could eat your blog! i keep bookmarking recipes but apparently can’t follow through.

  27. I made these cookies and added some lemon zest and thyme to them. They tasted great, but needed a bit of extra water like Danielle mentioned. And many thanks to you Tim, for making me discover Alice Medrich, who is quite unknown on this side of the ocean. I feel like Alice in Cookieland since I bought her book. Everything in the book so inspiring and delicious. You should definitely try Cafe Olla sticks too.

  28. After having this recipe on my “to bake” list literally for years (since Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies), I finally made these yesterday. They are wonderful and I’m sorry it took so long to find them. I did the food processor method of pulsing the flour, sugar, & salt; adding the butter and pulsing until sandy, then adding the water & vanilla, pulsing, then adding the coconut and pulsing it until it starts to clump together. 5.625 oz of AP flour was one cup plus 3T for me, but I didn’t need any additional water. I turned the mixture onto the foil, formed it into a 4 x 9 block, chilled it overnight, and was able to carefully slice & bake them. These wowed everyone who’s a coconut lover.

  29. Nice work, Louise! I am glad to hear you liked them. I am a huge fan of this recipe, too!

  30. i found this recipe yesterday and just took them out of the oven. could barely wait for them to cool before taking a bite. love love love them!!! no problem with the recipe as written. put mine in the loaf pan to chill. being a fan of crunchy cookies, these suit perfectly and i love how both the taste and texture of the coconut is subtle. can’t wait to have them with a cappuccino tomorrow morning!!!

  31. Just made these and they are so good! I believe you might edit your last statement that these will keep in a container a few days IF they don’t manage to disappear just after they’ve cooled. Super crispy and yummy. I halved it and chilled in a smaller pan. Had some crumbling issues when transferring to the sheet pan but luckily that ends up being more of an aesthetic thing. Have you ever frozen the dough? I saved a very small slice of dough when the sheet was full and threw it in the freezer to try…though I’d think Medrich would note it… : )

What do you think?