Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Coconut Lime Thai Snowballs

It was food day in the Washington Post today and the feature this week was holiday cookies. Yay cookies! I have been focusing on cookies more lately, probably because of the holiday season, and I was excited to discover a recipe that promised a new flavor combination in cookie form -- actually, now that I think about it, with the exception of the Florida Pie I made from the Dorie Greenspan book, I'm not sure that I've run across coconut and lime in baked goods before, and that's too bad because it's a great combination.

These cookies have a texture and appearance similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies -- small and round, dusted with powdered sugar -- but that's where the resemblance ends. The flavor in Mexican Wedding Cookies is primarily nuts and the cookie crumbles and melts in your mouth as you eat them. (I'm also not sure if you can just eat one, because I was struggling with keeping my hands out of the container and I'm usually pretty good at stopping at a bite or two...)

Lime is the standout flavor in the coconut lime cookies, with powdered sugar tempering the sharp flavor of the lime and coconut just hovering in the background. The texture of the cookies is also a little softer than the Wedding Cookies which means less crumble, but that's not a bad thing. Plus for bonus points, these are easier to make than the Wedding Cookies since you don't have to haul out the food processor for the nuts.

For the dough
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (medium shred)

For the coating
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (medium shred)
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the dough: Combine the butter and sugar in the large bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand-held electric mixer); beat on medium speed for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the lime juice and beat to combine. Stop the motor and fold in the lime zest, salt, flour and coconut, mixing well.

Lightly flour your hands and roll the dough between your palms into 1-inch balls. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets (the cookies will spread slightly); bake for about 15 minutes or until the cookies are puffy but not browned; the bottoms will be just golden. Cool on the baking sheets for no more than 5 minutes.

For the coating: Meanwhile, combine the coconut, confectioners' sugar, lime zest and sifted cornstarch in a quart- or gallon-size resealable plastic food storage bag. While the cookies are still warm, add 3 to 4 to the bag at a time and toss to coat evenly. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

When ready to serve, sprinkle additional confectioners' sugar and lime zest atop each cookie, if desired.

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