Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Those of you who were at my last party were lucky enough to taste my favorite cookies. This recipe comes from my ex-mother-in-law (I don’t think I’ve ever used 3 hyphens in a word before.) and has been a hit wherever it has been brought. So without any further ado, here’s the recipe:
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter (1 stick + 2 2/3 tbsp or 5.5 ounces), softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups unbleached flour (14.25 ounces by weight)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup coconut
12 ounces chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together thoroughly shortening and butter. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Then stir in the flour mixture and the remaining ingredients. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly brown. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheets.
Makes 60 cookies.
Now, a few notes on the recipe. When a cookie recipe asks you to do something thoroughly, it means it. Go ahead and beat the crap out of the fats and the sugar and fat mixture. This mixing is crucial to having a tender product. The beating of the fats alone combines them and slightly aerates it, thus lightening it. Beating the sugar and fats thoroughly lightens the mixture even more. The end result is having air in your dough. This is good because when you bake the cookies, this air will expand, causing your cookies to rise, which increases the volume of the cookie and in the end, you will have a more tender cookie.
Notice, however, that you do not do any thorough beating after you add the flour. Overmixing of the dough at that point will give you a very tough cookie because you will be creating gluten. Yeah, that’s the stuff that you try to create in bread dough to make it chewy and dense and wonderful. However, that is not what you want in a cookie. So when you’re mixing the dough, do it like this: Add the flour mixture in 3 stages. As soon as the third of the mixture seems to be incorporated, add the next third. When the flour mixture is just mixed in, add the chocolate chips, nuts, and coconut all at once and just mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough. No more. Just mix just enough, if you will.
The recipe says it makes sixty cookies. And it will, if you make small cookies. A rounded teaspoonful isn’t really all that much. But, if you use larger balls, about two tablespoons worth, you can decrease your labor and still make really good cookies. They need to cook longer (about 15 minutes) but they still retain a nice tender yet slightly chewy texture. Also, if you are really anal about it (like my ex-wife) you can make sure that no chocolate chip touches the baking sheet. This ensures that there are no cookies with a gooey, chocolately bottom. Oh yeah, you can substitute the nuts with an equal amount of coconut without any other modification of the recipe. Also, you can bake them on an ungreased cookie sheet but I like to use parchment paper.
Oh, and forget about airbake cookie sheets or any of the other junk you find at Target, Wal-Mart, or really any other cooking equipment retailer. They’re all garbage! Yes, garbage. Do yourself a favor and head to Sam’s Club or your neighborhood restaurant supply store and buy an aluminum half sheet pan. They are thick, strong, and very durable. They will not buckle in your oven when you put them in a hot oven. And they cook like a dream. The bottoms of your cookies or buns will be nicely golden brown just as the rest of it is done cooking. There’s a reason that every bakery in the country uses this type of pans-they are so superior to anything else out there. And you know, the best thing about them, they are less expensive than that other garbage. Probably, you’ll only pay about 5 bucks a sheet. If you are even the tiniest bit serious about quality in your baking, that 5 dollars will be the best money you ever spent.
Last note, about mixing devices. I’ve made these cookies with both a hand mixer (Cuisinart brand) and a very nice, home-sized Hobart stand mixer. I’ve had success with both but unquestionably, the stand mixer was easier to use and produced a better cookie. (Someday, I’ll have my own nice stand mixer.) There are two reasons for this: 1) Since the mixer is doing all the work , you are more likely to thoroughly cream the fats and sugars. 2) Since the mixer mixes things more quickly (due to the planetary motion of the paddle attachment), you create less gluten and hence, have a more tender cookie.
ADDED: The weights of the butter and flour have been added by me. The original recipe did not contain them and to the best of my recollection the creator of the recipe and her daughters used a “fluff and scoop” method to measure the flour and the packaging of the butter to measure that. I hope that the weights are a bit more accurate and helpful to those fussy anal bakers like myself.