Students, faculty and some of the super star lecturers from Cook ‘n Scribble’s fall’s BlogU intensive have put together a fabulous collection of recipes and reminiscences to add to your Christmas cookie repertoire. I’ve doubled every batch, am still baking and have long since run out of tins.
So bake on, Sistahs — and send in your favorites, too — The benefits of a sugar high at this time of year are wildly underrated. — Molly O’Neill
A cooking teacher in Westchester County, New York, Rinku Bhattachara specializes in fusing traditional Indian cuisine with her the ingredients she finds in her local supermarket — and the American tastes of her young children. She blogs at Cooking in Westchester and is best known for her savory food. Her neighbors, however, have become addicted to her Indian-spiced holiday coconut cookies.
“These coconut cookies are one of my favorite quick tea cookies. I adapted this recipe from an old Martha Stewart recipe, but have added so many Indian accents that they bear little resemblance to that recipes. The addition of cardamom and “jaggery”,( a raw Indian sugar available in specialty stores) create something very close to the “Nice Biscuits,” that were my childhood treat. Their crisp and rich texture makes them a perfect companion for tea or coffee
Traditionally, coconut and cardamom are two ingredients that say “festive” in traditional Indian cuisine. As these cookies bake, the toasty smell of coconut pairs with the sweet fragrance of cardamom and perfumes the air, reminding me of my mother’s kitchen. And now I know why she made them so often with me — the cookies are molded, shaped by hand and then rolled in coconut — its fun. This year I made my first batch of these cookies this evening with my 8-year old daughter. This reminded me of my first forays in the kitchen, shadowing my mother helping her mix and stir.
The coconut in these cookies is delicate and can burn easily. But its an easy recipe and almost foolproof once you get the hang of the timing. They are reat to have around while writing cards and make good gifts. In fact, my neighbors Paul and Marylou, who have named these cookies – Rinku’s Indian cookies.
Nariyal Nankhatai – Rinku’s Coconut Cookies
3 cups of sweetened baker’s coconut
¾ cup of grated jaggery (note, the jaggery is raw Indian sugar that comes in blocks and needs to be hand grated or shaved with a knife) if you cannot get it use a light brown muscovado sugar.
¼ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon freshly powdered cardamom
1/2 cup salted butter
1 and ½ cups white flour
Extra butter or baking spray to grease the cookie sheet
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the coconut in a food processor and process until finely chopped, this takes a few good pulses. Remove about ¼ cup and set aside. Add in the jaggery or brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder and cardamom to the coconut and process until finely mixed.
- Add in the butter and process until mixed and then add in the egg and pulse and finally, add the flour and process until the mixture is a crumbly soft consistency. This will take about 1 minute.
- Grease a cookie sheet. Remove about a walnut sized ball, the dough will be soft, relatively dry and pliable.Shape into a ball, flatten to 1/3 inch thickness and roll in the reserved coconut to lightly cover the surface of the cookie. Press lightly to let the flakes bind.
- These cookies do not spread much, so you can place them relatively close. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check them when you can smell the cardamom in the air, they are rather delicate and can burn easily. They should be pale brown and lightly puffed when done.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes, then place in a serving basket. If you are planning to store them, cool them thoroughly before placing them in an airtight tiin.
makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies
Cookie Image Source: Chai Pakora