Pascale’s Kitchen: Tantalizing coconut treats

I was quite surprised to say the very least. I’m used to people telling me they aren’t fans of poppyseed, but coconut?

 Yo-yo cookies (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Yo-yo cookies
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

So here’s something I learned over Purim: I was preparing treats for mishloah manot (food packages traditionally given on Purim) and posted recipes on my Instagram page, which included coconut flakes in the list of ingredients. To my surprise, I received many comments from people saying they have no desire to bake desserts with coconut.

I was quite surprised to say the very least. I’m used to people telling me they aren’t fans of poppyseed, but coconut?

I have thus decided to invite my readers to try recipes that include coconut. Not as the main ingredient, mind you, but as toppings on cookies, which actually enhances the flavor of the cookies, and adds great texture. This is my way to help people who are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with coconut to learn to like this unique taste.

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Below, you will find three different recipes for cookies made with coconut flakes. In two of the recipes the cookies are fried, and in the third the cookies are baked.

 Coconut and almond cookie cigars (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Coconut and almond cookie cigars (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

The first recipe is for yo-yo cookies, which hail from the Tunisian cuisine that I grew up with. Shaped like a – surprise – yo-yo, cookies are dipped in syrup, then rolled in coconut flakes (or ground pistachios or almonds).

The second recipe is for cigar cookies, which hail from Moroccan cuisine. Filled with hazelnuts and almonds (and coconut, of course, if you so desire), the dough is dipped in syrup, then covered with coconut flakes.

The third recipe, which hails from Argentinian cuisine, is for alfajores de maicena con dulce de leche, which you may have seen on many a bakery or café. These sandwich cookies – filled with dulce de leche, then rolled in coconut flakes – are my favorite food coming out of Argentina. 

They can be baked ahead of time and stored in the freezer, and the dulce de leche can be kept in the fridge. This way, when guests pop over, you can quickly assemble this fantastic treat in just a few minutes.

Yo-yo cookies

Makes 30 small or 40 medium cookies.

Dough:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup (120 ml.) orange juice
  • ½ cup (100 ml.) canola oil
  • ½ cup (100 ml.) sugar
  • 2-3 drops vanilla extract
  • About 2 cups (450 gr.) flour, sifted
  • 1½ packets (15 gr.) baking powder

Syrup:

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice from one lemon or orange
  • 1-2 drops rose water

Toppings:

  • Coconut flakes, ground pistachios, sprinkles

Add to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a flat beater the eggs, orange juice, oil and sugar. Mix for 2-3 minutes. Lower the speed and gradually add the vanilla, flour and baking powder.

Mix well until dough becomes sticky. If the dough is too sticky, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour, according to need. Do not overmix. Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out onto a sheet to a thickness of 1 cm. Using a small or medium cup, cut out dough circles. Then cut out smaller circles from each dough circle. Alternatively, you can roll out strips of dough, then connect the ends to form a circle.

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium flame. Place some of the dough circles in the pan and fry on both sides until they turn golden brown. Remove and let them cool on paper towels. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough.

Place all of the syrup ingredients, except for the rose water, in a medium pot and heat for 10-15 minutes until syrup forms. Add the rose water and cook for one more minute. Add the fried cookies to the syrup and cook them for a few more minutes.

The cookies can be served like this, or you can roll them in coconut flakes, ground pistachios or sprinkles.

Level of difficulty: Medium-hard.Time: 90 minutes.Status: Pareve.

Coconut and almond cookie cigars

Makes 32 cookies.

Dough:

  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup water or soda water
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 ½ - 3 cups flour, sifted

To sprinkle on the dough:

  • ½ cup flour mixed with 1 packet of baking powder

Syrup:

  • ½ kg. sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 drops of rose water

Filling: 

  • ¾ cup finely ground almonds
  • ¾ cup ground walnuts
  • ¾ cup ground peanuts
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

For sealing:

  • 1 egg yolk

Topping:

  • 1 cup coconut flakes

To prepare the dough, add the oil, water, vanilla sugar and lemon zest to a bowl and mix. Gradually add the flour while mixing. Mix the dough well and then let it rest for 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder. Separate the dough into 2 sections and roll each one out until it’s 2 mm thick. Sprinkle the flour/baking powder mixture on both and roll them up. Cut each log into 16 pieces that are 2 cm. wide, so that you have 32 pieces.

To prepare the syrup, place the ingredients in a pot and heat over a medium flame for 30 minutes until it has thickened.

To prepare the filling, add the almonds, walnuts and coconut to a bowl. Add the almond extract and powdered sugar and mix well. Add ½ cup of the syrup and mix well.

Flour your work surface and then roll out each of the 32 pieces into a thin sheet. Place a spoonful of filling on the edge of the dough closest to you, then roll it up into the shape of a cigar. Brush the ends with the egg yolk, then roll them out so that each end is sharp.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the cigars until they turn golden brown. Remove and let them cool on paper towels.

Dip the cigars in the syrup that is still being heated over a flame and let them sit for a minute or two. Then roll them in coconut flakes, or just dip the ends in the coconut.

Level of difficulty: Medium-hard.Time: 2 hours.Status: Pareve. 

 Alfajores de maicena con dulce de leche (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Alfajores de maicena con dulce de leche (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Alfajores de maicena con dulce de leche

Makes 30.

Dough:

  • 200 gr. butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups cornflour
  • 1 1/3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 packet baking powder

Filling:

  • 1 small jar of dulce de leche
  • Topping:
  • 100 gr. coconut flakes

Add the butter, eggs and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a flat beater. Mix well. Add the cornflour, flour and baking powder. Continue mixing the dough until it softens.

Sprinkle a bit of flour on your work surface, and then roll out the dough. Cut out circles with a diameter of 3 cm. or 4 cm.

Place the circles on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 6 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 180°. The cookies should remain white. Remove and let cool.

Place half of the cookies with the flat, smooth side facing up. Add 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche on each one, then close with another cookie on top.

In a small pot, melt two tablespoons of dulce de leche with a little hot water, and mix well. Pour the coconut flakes into another bowl.

Take each “sandwich” and roll the side with the filling first in the melted dulce de leche, then in coconut flakes.

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 30 minutes.Status: Dairy.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.