These coconut shortbread cookies are sweet, salty and crunchy! The recipe for the cookies and the cookie glaze are both egg-free.
These coconut shortbread cookies are the first of three coconut-flavoured holiday treats that I'm sharing this year. I baked everything about six weeks apart, and didn't realize that they were all made with shredded or desiccated coconut until today. Oh well! If you want to check out the others, they are Coconut Breakfast Bun Cookies and Coconut Chelsea Buns.
I love all things coconut - maybe it's because of my Caribbean heritage. I'm fairly certain that I have coconut water running through my veins instead of blood... These cookies have good coconut flavour, without being overpowering. If you can't find the imitation coconut extract, you can just omit it. The vanilla extract in the recipe will flavour the cookie dough. The coconut flavour won't be as strong, but the cookies will still be tasty.
Oh, I should also mention that the recipe for these shortbread cookies is adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe. I don't usually adapt recipes, but I needed to for this one. I recently found out that I'm sensitive to eggs, so I wanted to find an egg-free cookie recipe that I could use as a guideline. So both the shortbread cookies and the cookie glaze are completely egg-free.
The cookie glaze is also adapted from a King Arthur recipe that's no long online. The glaze is perfectly sweet, and becomes hard and shiny when it dries. It's a great substitution for Royal Icing, and I find that it tastes better too.
These cookies weren't terribly difficult to make, and that's coming from someone who doesn't have the best baking skills. The hardest part was rolling the dough to the right thickness. Too thin, and the cookies burnt. Too fat, and they didn't cook through. The picture shows the thickness that worked the best for me.
The original recipe recommends laying the cookies on parchment paper, and that is definitely a good tip. These cookies will be much easier to remove from the pan if you follow this step. I was able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet pan without having to worry about them sticking together.
Once the cookies are a very light golden colour, take them out of the oven. If you wait for them to be golden on top, they will be too dark on the bottom. The original recipe called for 20 minutes of cooking time, and that was far too long for my oven. Once I reduced the cooking time, the cookies turned out perfectly.
The coconut cookie glaze can be made really quickly, but the consistency is a bit tricky to judge. You don't want it to be runny, or it won't set properly. Just add the milk a little bit at a time, and you should be good to go. Even though the mixture is fairly sticky, it was easy to pipe onto the cookies. And all I used was a Ziploc Bag with the corner cut off!
The Silver Dragees I used are completely optional. Apparently, they are no longer considered to be edible! The warning on the dragees that I linked to says:
"Dragees are classified as non-edible and for decoration only by the FDA in the United States because they contain minute quantities of heavy metals. However, they are non-toxic and safe for use on food and are considered edible in many countries outside of the U.S. where they are consumed on a variety of confections. Dragees are made out of Sugar, Silver, Gum Arabic & Gelatin."
Whether or not you choose to use them in totally up to you. I personally don’t think that eating a few once a year is going to kill me, but I have no scientific facts to back that up. Also, I'm sure there are yummier toppings that you can decorate your cookies with, because let’s be real, those pretty silver balls don’t actually taste all that great, and they are hard on your teeth!
If you really want the dragee look, but are worried about consuming hard metals, you could try these silver sugar pearls from Wilton instead. Their website doesn't list actual silver as an ingredient (which is probably why they aren't shiny like real dragees).
These coconut shortbread cookies are best when eaten within a few days of baking, because they lose their crunch over time. If you make sure to store them in an airtight container, they will still be tasty up to a week later.
I need to make another batch of these Coconut Shortbread Cookies before Christmas. What is your go-to recipe for holiday cookies? Gingerbread? Sugar Cookies? Let me know in the comments!
🖨 Printable Recipe
Coconut Shortbread Cookies
For the Cookies:
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, (about 3 ounces)
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, , room temperature
- 1 cup sugar, , plus 1 tablespoon extra
- 1 ¼ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ⅔ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3-5 tablespoon coconut oil, , melted
- white sugar, , as needed
For the Glaze
- 2 ¼ cups icing sugar, , sifted
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup, , preferably light syrup
- ½ teaspoon imitation coconut extract
- 1 ½ tablespoon 2% milk, , up to 2 tablespoons
- food colouring, , optional
To Make the Cookie Dough:
- Spread the shredded coconut in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake in oven until the coconut is a very light golden colour, about 2 minutes. You may need to stir the coconut and return it to the oven for 1 more minute. Be careful, sweetened coconut can burn very quickly!
- Allow the shredded coconut to cool completely. This won't take long if you remove the coconut from the sheet pan.
- Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar in large bowl, beat until well blended.
- Mix in the salt and vanilla, then add the flour in 2 separate additions. Once these ingredients are combined, gently stir in the toasted coconut.
- Gather dough together; divide in half or quarters. Flatten each section of dough into disk, then wrap each in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.*
To Cut Out and Bake the Cookies:
- When ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 325°F and take 2 disks out of the fridge and allow them to soften at room temperature until slightly softened.
- Line 2 heavy-duty baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Roll out one dough disk on lightly floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness.
- Using a 2-inch-diameter cookie cutter, cut dough into your desired shape. Transfer cookies to your prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart.
- Brush the cut cookies with a light coating of coconut oil, and sprinkle with sugar.
- Gather the dough scraps into a disc and wrap it in plastic. Put this disc back into the fridge to stay cool.
- Place your second thawed disc onto the floured surface and repeat the cookie cutting process. Once you have used all the original dough disks, be sure to thaw out the scraps and repeat the procedure until all of dough is used.
- Bake the cookies until light golden, about 10 minutes. The bottoms will be darker than the tops of the cookies.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pan for a few minutes, then transfer them to a cookie rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before frosting. You can store the cookies in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 1 week.
For the Glaze:
- In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, coconut extract, and 1 tablespoon of milk. Add food colouring, if desired.
- Check the consistency of the glaze by spreading some onto a cookie with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. If it doesn't settle smoothly and dry to a hard finish in about 1 minute, then you need to adjust the mixture.
- If you need to thin the mixture, add more milk ¼ teaspoon at a time. If you have added too much milk, add a tiny amount of sugar until you get the consistency you need.
- Put a spoonful of glaze into a piping bag, or a sandwich-size Ziploc bag with the corner cut off, and have fun creating designs on your cookies. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth while you work, to help prevent the glaze from drying out.
Please read the blog post for detailed tips and explanations.
Nutrition Disclaimer: this nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed.