“Well, this seems pretty good.”
She hadn’t even taken a bite yet, and she knew. Having bravely eaten more of my cookie failures than successes over the years with loyalty only a mother can demonstrate, my mom could tell just from breaking off a piece of cookie.
I’m not crazy about shortbread, but this got even me excited. A little bit of background: When my sister and I were girl scouts, we looked forward to Girl Scout cookie time every year. We would pore over the pictures of the cookies on the order form and discuss which ones we would try to convince our parents to get. Thin Mints was our top choice, hands down, followed by either Samoas or Tagalongs. We usually ended up agreeing on Samoas over Tagalongs though because as heavenly as the peanut butter-chocolate combination was, Tagalongs had the fewest number of cookies per package (my sister counted). Our greatest fear was that our parents would remember they liked the boring, funny-smelling Trefoils that came in boxes of infinity. In an attempt to keep them in the dark, we would fold the order form so that the picture of the Trefoils was safely hidden and just point to/talk really loudly about Thin Mints and Samoas.
I realize many people like Trefoils and that they probably are pretty tasty. However, this childhood prejudice against shortbread formed early and carried over into my adult life. When presented with the choice of shortbread or any other cookie, I will run to the other cookie.
(The choice between shortbread or nothing, however, is an entirely different story.)
So what makes this cookie good? It’s delicate and tender, yet not so fragile that it disintegrates at the slightest touch. It also has a pleasant butteriness that doesn’t leave you feeling sick, or worried about trailing greasy fingerprints in your wake. As a picky coconut-eater, I was surprised by how different the coconut here – toasted and ground up – was from its regular white, shredded, sweetened form. It added a nice toasted flavor to the cookie, and biting into a tiny, crispy bit every so often kept things interesting.
I can’t believe a shortbread cookie is going into my recipes file.
Tips for a delicate, tender cookie:
1. Be sure to beat the butter/sugar until it’s nice and fluffy.
2. Don’t overmix the dough once the flour has been added. It’s a little hard to see because of the coconut, but underneath the coconut here, the flour was mixed just until it came together. It was not one smooth mass of dough; more like a bunch of smoothish clumps.
This is what the dough looked like after mixing in the coconut, before forming into a log – kind of a loose mass of dough.