Monday, February 21, 2011

Tropical Cream Cheese Cookies

I am certainly glad I do not have any food allergies.  Being allergic to gluten must be the worst, because I see that there are several blogs that have recipes for the gluten intolerant. Imagine having to create a whole new world of food to eat because of an allergy.

Sometimes food allergies are only present at a young age. By the time a child is five, the allergy usually goes away. This is common with egg allergies.  In the meantime, parents are faced with the dilemma of substituting "fake egg" products or totally eliminating any food with eggs.

Any child with an egg allergy is entitled to a treat every once in a while, which brings me to this recipe.  It may not call for any eggs, but flavor was not sacrificed.  They are crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle with a tropical taste of toasted pecans and coconut.

Plan ahead when making these cookies, for the dough has to be prepared the day/night before baking. This recipe makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Tropical Cream Cheese Cookies
courtesy of  Cooks Ilustrated via Baking Blonde

2 cups of sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks or 3/4 cup of butter
6 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour

Take out a saucepan and melt the butter on low heat.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  First, the coconut will need to be toasted. Take rimmed baking sheet and spread coconut evenly in pan. Place in oven for 5 minutes.  Then remove from oven and stir, folding the coconut on the edges of the pan towards the center and vice-versa.  Place in oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.

To toast the pecans, pour the pieces in another rimmed baking sheet and follow the same procedure stated above.  Once toasted, remove the pecans to cool and turn off the oven.

In a medium bowl, beat the melted butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer.  While beating, the mixture will first begin to look like cottage cheese, but it will eventually get to a smooth consistency.  Take a sieve and place over the bowl and push all the brown sugar through it.  This process will eliminate the brown "rocks" that are in the bag.  These lumps do not melt while baking and can be noticeable if not removed.  Then add the granulated sugar and beat again until all is combined.  Mix the vanilla extract into the batter and set aside.

Sift the baking soda, flour and salt together in another bowl. Fold the flour mixture into the batter with a wooden spoon until no dry areas remain.  Blend in the toasted coconut and pecans with the batter, making sure all is evenly distributed.  Cover bowl and place in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take the cookie dough out of the fridge.  You will find that the dough is about like fudge, so it will be a little difficult to scoop out.*  With a spoon, scrape out enough dough to make a heaping tablespoon and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Once baking sheet is filled up, place sheet in oven to bake for 12-14 minutes, turning baking sheet at halfway point.  The cookies are done when they are light brown on the bottom as well as edges.  Remove and let cool on pan 3 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.

Continue this process, noting that the longer the cookie dough stays out of the fridge the baking time will shorten. 

*If you feel that the dough (when first removed from the fridge) is too difficult to work with, you can let it sit a little while at room temperature before using.  Be careful that it does not get too warm, for you do not want the cookie to spread into a flat mass.