Holiday Sweet with a Tropical Accent
Finally, this is the year that I have set aside the whole month of December to indulge myself with food and friends. I am a well-pampered cook.
This past week, my Italian culinary group, who traveled together to Italy in 2004, got together for a fun cookie exchange. I returned home with assorted cookies and sweet delights. My son, who appreciated them all, loved the Russian Tea Cakes, also called Butter Balls or Mexican Wedding Cakes. My friend bakes them every year from Betty Crocker’s Recipe.
I love the flavor and the texture of the Russian Tea Cakes and imagined that they would be good made with Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes and almond meal/flour, both of which I have had in my freezer for a long time. So I started by following the recipe but played with the proportions of coconut flakes, almond meal and flour. I kept the amounts of butter and powder sugar from the Russian Tea Cakes recipe as a backbone structure and kept the preparation and cooking methods the same as well.
Several friends who love coconut loved the coconut tea cakes instantly. My son, however, still prefers the traditional Russian Tea Cakes!
Bake until slightly yellow-brown on the top and the bottom.
If you prefer, you can add coconut flakes to the powdered sugar to dust the baked cookies; it won’t stick, but it makes a great garnish just before serving.
Coconut Tea Cakes
I love coconut and incorporate it into recipes any time I can. While baking Russian Tea Cakes for my son, I played around with my concept of Coconut Tea Cakes and it worked on the first try. Coconut flakes are edible in all forms, toasted or not. Personally I love dried coconut flakes just the way they are. This recipe should also work with sweetened shredded coconut but the outcome will be different than my version which highlights the dry coconut against the buttery texture of the other ingredients. Anytime that the dough fails to form a ball, add a little more melted butter to hold it together.Yield: 3 dozen 2 cups flour ¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour ¼ teaspoon salt (omit if salted butter is used) 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Medium Shredded Coconut 1 cup butter, softened ½ cup powdered sugar, plus ¼ cup for dusting 1 teaspoon either coconut extract or almond extract
Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare a wire rack for cooling the cookies.
Combine flour, almond meal/four, salt and medium shredded coconut and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter, ½ cup powder sugar and coconut or almond extract on medium speed until creamy. Using a spatula, fold in flour mixture slowly until it is well-combined and you have a large ball of dough. Divide the dough into four balls. Roll each ball into a cylinder and cut into 9 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a perfect round ball and place onto a baking sheet. You should have about 3 dozen.
Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until a tiny hint of yellow-brown appears on the top and the bottom. Remove cookies to the wire rack.
Place ¼ cup powdered sugar in a small bowl, then drop in slightly cooled cookies one at a time, dusting them with powdered sugar before placing them back on the wire rack. Before packaging, storing or serving, dust the cookies once again with powdered sugar.
Photos: © 2011 Pranee Khruasanit HalvorsenPranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com
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