I've never hated coconut, but if you'd asked me if I liked it, I would have wrinkled my nose and said, "No, not really. It's mostly a texture thing." While that hasn't completely changed, I will say that I'm kind of in love with coconut, at least in the right form.
I made this German Chocolate Cake for Dwight's birthday and swooned. Dwight said it was the best GCC he's ever had. Aw, what a guy.
Toasted coconut is a new favorite, too. I learned the bliss that is toasted coconut when I made "7 layer bars" for the first time just a few months ago and couldn't stop eating the leftover toasty bits of pecans, graham crackers and coconut in the baking pan.
Then I made that coconut bread. You know the one. This one. Browned butter, vanilla bean, coconut. Did I mention browned butter? All together in one heavenly bread. Aw, yeah. The new-found joy of coconut continued.
And when I just had to make cookies because it had been too darn long since I'd made any, I decided to use, say it with me... coconut. I'd recently read about a chocolate chip cookie that uses browned butter and I knew I needed to try it. It worked so well with the bread, why not cookies. So I modified the basic Toll House recipe, browned the butter and added coconut M&Ms instead of chocolate chips along with coconut and vanilla bean.
*Contains no actual coconut. Heh.
*Contains just the right amount of coconut. Mmmm.
Ding ding ding! We have another winner. The love affair continues...
Coconut M&M Cookies
loosely adapted from Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe
1 Cup (2 sticks) Butter, browned
1 vanilla bean, scraped reserving pod
2-3/4 Cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup coconut, packed
3/4 Cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 Cup granulated sugar
To make browned butter:
Place butter in small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Melt, stirring periodically. Once it's melted, continue stirring. The butter will get foamy - keep stirring. Once the foam goes away, you'll notice that it's gotten very clear with some solids at the bottom. Keep stirring! You don't want those to burn. You want the butter to start to turn a very light brown color and you'll definitely start noticing the amazing, nutty aroma. Let the solids at the bottom turn light brown then remove from heat. Let cool about 5 minutes, then drop the cleaned out vanilla pot into the butter. Do this too soon and you'll have fried vanilla bean — trust me — so wait the 5 minutes. The hot butter will draw the rest of the vanilla goodness from the scraped bean.
Let this cool about 15-20 minutes in bowl of stand mixer or mixing bowl. Add vanilla beans.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl. Stir in coconut. Set aside.
Add both sugars to butter and mix until completely combined. It will be sludgy. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each and scrape down sides of bowl. Mixture should be noticeably lighter in color and texture.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture beating until full incorporated. You can mix in the M&Ms now or place them individually on the tops before baking.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. I used my large pampered chef scoop which is a scant 1/4 cup. You can make them any size you wish.
Place about 2 inches apart on sheet. (They will spread quite a bit.) Flatten and place M&Ms close together if adding them now.
Bake 9-11 minutes until light golden brown. (My were perfect at exactly 10 minutes.) They'll spread then puff up then turn golden. Don't over bake. Leave on pan 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
You can eliminate the M&Ms altogether and just have a coconut cookie. They're excellent plain.