Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cooking School: Slice N' Bake Cookies

Slice-and-bake cookies may not seem as "high class" as other types of cookies, nor do they seem quite as homey as big drop cookies. I still cannot quite figure out precisely why this is, but I generally attribute it to the uniform shape of the resulting cookies. Any home-made cookie is homey, in my opinion, no matter what it looks like. And you simply can't tell me that these cookies can't be classy - have you seen the most recent Maida slice-and-bakes on Cathy's blog? They're very impressive.
Slice and bake cookies get their name from the fact that you simply slice the cookies off a pre-formed (and usually frozen) log of dough before baking. The supermarket cookies come packaged this way, but it's really nothing that shouldn't be done at home. You can make the dough well in advance, wrap it up into a log and keep it in the freezer for several weeks before baking. This has several advantages. First, you will have cookie dough on hand any time you want fresh cookies and, second, you have a lot of portion control. Only want one cookie? Only slice one off.
I highly recommend using parchment or wax paper to wrap the cookies. Plastic wrap tends to stick to the dough and, when frozen, can tear away in pieces instead of as a neat sheet. There is nothing worse than plastic stuck in a cookie.
These cookies are full of coconut, but have the texture of a butter cookie. Many people who aren't fans of the texture of coconut will still like these cookies, but if they don't like the flavor, it probably isn't for them. The cookies are delicious, buttery and coconuty. They are also quite tender. If you bake them for an extra minute or two, they get quite crispy, but otherwise retain a nice softness, just like a plain butter cookie, in the middle. Adding a little bit of vanilla gave them a deeper flavor, but only served to enhance the the coconut, not to distract from it.

Coconut Cookies
(based on a recipe I saw in Sunset)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter, soft
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

Whisk together flour, paking powder and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then add in the egg and vanilla. Beat until light and well combined, then beat in the coconut. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture.
Once all the flour has been mixed in, divide the dough into two parts, shape into logs (2-inches in diameter) and wrap tightly in parchment or wax paper. Freeze for at least 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice cookies off the frozen logs with a sharp knife, making each cookie no more than 1/4-inch thick. Place on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are just lightly browned.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen.