Tropical Shortbread Cookies


Finished photoThese delightful, thin, chocolate coated Tropical Shortbread cookies are of the European variety and couldn’t be easier to make.  The method of putting them together is a bit unconvential and the ingredients, or lack of them, is interesting.  The cookie uses no egg, depending instead on butter to hold them together – a true shortbread cookie.  Powdered sugar is used as opposed to granulated and not much of that.  European cookies are generally, much less sweet than their American cousins which lets the flavors really come through.  These particular cookies are actually best eaten the day or days after baking and coating.

I love cut out cookies and what could be better for Valentine’s day than heart shaped cookies half dipped in milk chocolate – yum!!!!  The use of the waxed paper to roll the cookies out is necessary for several reasons.  First of all, the cookies are very thin which makes them difficult to roll out on a flour coated surface.

Secondly, you don’t want to add extra flour to these cookies as they are so thin.  By flipping the paper enclosed cookies and pulling back the paper, then replacing it to roll again, the cookies spread easily on the waxed paper.  For shortbread cookies, I prefer this method of rolling the dough out.  The heart shaped cutter I used is 1 1/2 inches from the lowest point at the top to 2″ at the highest.

These Tropical Shortbreads make the perfect cut out cookie – or not.  If you are not into rolling and cutting, divide the dough into several pieces and roll into logs about 1 1/2  inches in diameter, chill, and slice. While the basic dough for these cookies is of the European style, the macadamia nuts and toasted coconut are definitely from the opposite side of the earth.  One taste of these and you will more likely be hearing the sounds of the tropics. So grab that rolling pin and waxed paper and start baking up a storm – a tropical storm!

Tropical Shortbread Cookies
1 cup coconut (60 grams or 2 ounces)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts (60 grams or 2 ounces)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (210 grams or 6 ounces)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)1 1/2 ounces)
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks butter (140 grams, 5 ounces or 10 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the coconut on a baking sheet and toast for about 4 to 5 minutes until deep golden brown.  If the macadamia nuts are not roasted, place them on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes if they are whole.  Less if they are in pieces.  Cool completely.  When cool, crush the coconut between your hands to make it smaller.Coconut in hands

Crushed CoconutPlace the nuts and the flour in the bowl of a food processor. Flour and nuts in processor Process to grind nuts finely. Flour and Nuts ground Beat the butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl until creamy. Butter and vanilla in bowl Butter beatenAdd the remaining ingredients, including the coconut and beat just until combined. All in bowlBeating 1Beating 2Beating 3Beating 4Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it several times to make a ball out of it.dough dumped outdough kneadedIf making rolls, divide the dough into two piecesdough divided and roll into the same diameter logs. Roll Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until hard.  Slice the cookiesRoll cut and place on trays.  Bake for 11 to 14 minutes. If rolling out for cut out cookies, it is easiest to roll between two pieces of waxed paper so they can be rolled thinly.  Place a large piece of waxed paper on the work surface.Wax paperTake one half of the dough and place it in the middle of the wax paper.  Flatten the dough somewhat.  dough flattenedPlace another piece on top and flatten it. Top covered with waxed paper If the dough is really soft, refrigerate it briefly to firm it up.  Roll out to about 1/8 inch.   You want these to be thin. Rolling outIt is good to occasionally remove the top piece of the paper, keeping it close to the dough.Top paper pulled backTop paper offReplace the paper back on the dough andTop recovered flip it over so the bottom of the dough is now on top.  Flipping 1Flipping 2Remove the paper,Flipped paper offFlipped paper replaced replace it, smoothing out any wrinkles and continue rolling.  This assists in rolling the dough and keeping it moving out.  Cut out shapes as desired.Rolled out and cutRefrigerate or freeze until they are hard.  Using a pancake turner or offset spatula, Remove them from the wax paper and place the cookies on the parchment lined baking sheets.  Tray of cut out cookiesRe-roll the scraps until the dough is all used.  Again, if the dough is soft, refrigerate before removing the scraps around the cutouts. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes until coloring around the edges.  Cool.

Milk Chocolate GlazeGlaze ingredients9 ounces milk chocolate chips
3 tablespoons shortening (such as Crisco)Glaze ingred. in bowlCombine and place over hot water to melt or microwave at half power until melted.  Whisk very gently as it is easy to incorporate air bubbles, which you definitely do not want. Place the glaze in a narrow container, as it will be easier to dip the cookies.  Half dip each cookie and set on parchment or waxed paper. Dipping in glazeGlaze dripping offGlaze dripping offTray of glazed cookies Allow to set for several hours or overnight. After the glaze is set, the cookies can be stored at room temperature.  If you are in a hurry, refrigerate them briefly.  This may dull the glaze somewhat.  They can be stored at room temperature. They can be layered with paper in between once the glaze has set.

Yield:  Approximately 48 cookies, depending upon the size.





Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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10 thoughts on “Tropical Shortbread Cookies

  1. alisande21

    I love getting your receipes in my inbox! You explain things so well, it makes me excited to try them. Definetly going to do this Valentines day!! Thanks.

  2. Kim

    These are beautiful. I always make the boys sugar cookie heart cut outs for Valentines day but maybe I’ll mix it up a bit and include a new variety. You are always inspiring! Thanks

  3. Hilda

    Cute cookie, Helen. Are they sturdy enough to withstand a trip in a FedEx truck? Or will my college kids wonder why mom sent them a box of cookie crumbs?

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Funny you should ask. When I first came up with these, I packed the cookies in two lovely, plastic, clamshell containers, filling the top with wadded up paper to make sure the cookies couldn’t move. Off I sent them, with Mike to the P.O., asking him to put the clamshells in priority boxes and ship them out to the boys. Well, it seems there weren’t any boxes so he put them in priority soft envelopes. Eric, in LA said the crumbs were really good. Dirk, in Chicago said a few made it whole and they traveled well. The sum of all of this is packed and shopped correctly, they will do just fine. Just don’t have Mike do it for you!!!!!

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