Back to the Blogging Board with Coconut Key-Lime Sugar Cookies
So far this year, the weather in Las Vegas has been like the above Katy Perry song: one contradiction after another and, at times, unwelcome and extremely annoying. One day we'll have 85 degree temps with crystal-clear views. The following morning my exploding sinuses will tell me everything that I need to know about the 40 mph winds and overcast skies before I even get out of bed. Parts of town (remember, this is LAS VEGAS) even reported snow in late March, and I've brought my winter coat into the dry cleaners for its annual "final cleaning" at least four times. We get it, Mother Nature, you're in charge.
I know. I should stop whining. For one thing, other parts of the country have had it much, much worse than Las Vegas this year. For another, I really need to address the white elephant in the room: Me. No, I don't like to make a habit of referring to myself as an elephant, but let's call a spade a spade. I have been a deadbeat blogger for 4 months. 1/3 of a year. 120+ days. Whatever you want to call it, it's been a heckuva long time. **Gulp**
You know what I'm going to say now: "Blah, blah, blah. I've been busy." (In all fairness, I have been busy.) "Blah, blah, blah." Anyhow, I'm sorry. Work has been really crazy, but on the plus side, business is good! Who knew how many people eat granola out there? Apparently, quite a few.
So, I'm back to blogging! (Silence) Hopefully, I still have a reader or two. (Crickets chirping) Mom? Anyone??
I won't bore you with the details of everything that I did over the past four months, although tales of me organizing my 2010 business finances are certain to captivate and amuse you for hours. Maybe I'll save those for the next post, if you're lucky. The good news is that I have amassed a stack of inspirational recipes about yea-high (my hand is about two feet off the ground), so that should keep me blogging well into the Rio Olympics.
Soooooo, you might have noticed some seemingly randomly inserted captioned photos of decorated sugar cookies as I have been rambling on about the weather and my absence. If you haven't noticed, well, then it might be time for a visit to your optometrist. Just sayin'.
I have mentioned a time or four in previous posts that I have a mild addiction to the site Copper Gifts, where you can buy a cookie cutter in the shape of just about anything. That last sentence doesn't exactly make me sound like a super-cool party animal, does it? Anyhow, a few weeks ago, when the weather had jumped from grill outside-worthy to "where the heck did I put the electric blanket?", I was filling up my Copper Gifts shopping cart with just about any shape that reminded me of warmer weather: outdoor sports, barbecues, ice cream....you get the idea. Then I put half of them back, because there is no excuse for spending that much moo-lah on cookie cutters, at least no excuse that won't result in an intervention.
These photos are the end results of my purchases, a little project that I worked on last weekend in order to get my blogging juices flowing again. I made SUCH A MESS in the kitchen, which took a while to clean, and my back is a bit sore, but it was a lot of fun for me (Eric thinks that is the weirdest statement ever.)
Because I didn't want to just give you a bunch of photos and nothing new in terms of a recipe, I decided to play around with my favorite standard sugar cookie recipe and give it a twist. This variation is inspired by a recent long-overdue trip that Eric and I took to Cabo. We've been planning it for something like three years, and we finally went for a very relaxing four days. The resort where we stayed had the most fantastic agave margaritas -- the best that I've ever had. They didn't ruin them with that fake, headache-inducing margarita mix. Instead, they used only lime, agave, and tequila. They also had a coconut version, which I have been trying to recreate. No success yet, but the process is certainly fun! Here are my extra tips for preparing these tropical tasting treats:
- The sugar cookie dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to three days. If you want to freeze it (for up to two weeks), double wrap the dough with plastic wrap.
- The optional coconut extract listed in both parts of the recipe just depends on how "coconutty" you like your desserts. The shredded coconut adds a milder coconut flavor to the cookies, so if you want to punch it up a bit, then add the extract.
- When preparing the royal icing for the decorations, there should be two consistencies: One for the outline, and one for the "flooding" of the colors. The outline consistency should be firm enough so that it stays in place and doesn't spread when piped onto the cookie. The flooding consistency should do just that: spead within the outline when it is dropped onto the surface of the cookie. Because the flooding consistency requires more lime juice, this is where the more vivid lime flavor will come from.
- After you drop the flooding icing inside the outline, it helps to use a few toothpicks the guide the icing to the edges.
Coconut Key Lime Sugar Cookies
Makes about 30 large shapes
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
3 1/2 cups flour (plus more for rolling shapes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 2 key limes or 1 regular lime
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
For the Key Lime Royal Icing:
32-ounce bag confectioners' sugar
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
Key lime juice
Gel food colors, sprinkles, etc.
In the work bowl of a food processor, process the coconut until it is finely ground. Whisk together the coconut, flour, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the lime zest, the vanilla, and the coconut extract if using. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until well incorporated.
Divide the dough into thirds, forming each third into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F and line three baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll one of the dough disks out to a thickness between 1/4 and 1/8-inch. Cut the dough into desired shapes using cutters, and carefully transfer the shapes to the prepared baking sheets. Bake the shapes until they are pale golden brown in color, 9-12 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough disks.
Prepare the icing: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the confectioners' sugar with the egg whites on low speed until combined (mixture will be crumbly.) Beat in the coconut extract, if using. Increase the speed to medium and slowly add enough of the lime juice needed to achieve a smooth icing and your desired consistency (see notes above.) Divide the icing among bowls and color using the gel paste or liquid food colors. Decorate!