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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cinnamon-Nutella and Coconut-Raisin Cookies

I really wanted to make some cookies as a gift for friends, but we're on a bit of a tight budget lately, so I tried to scrounge around the kitchen for something I could make with just the ingredients I happened to have on hand. What did I come up with?
Coconut, raisins, and nutella. What the heck was I gonna make with that?

I figured coconut and raisins would go well together and nutella could probably stand on its own. So I went to a recipe for cinnamon cookies, which I thought would make a good baseline recipe for my little treat experiments.

I should probably take a minute to explain my style in the kitchen a bit. My mom owns a Thai restaurant and was trained by the chefs for the King of Thailand. So let me just say she knows her stuff. I grew up helping her in the kitchen and she doesn't go by such silly things as "measurements". Pshaw. She was taught to know something is right by how it smells. I'm no where near her league, but being her daughter, I learned to cook by sight and smell. So discussing recipes for cooking in terms of precise measurements is a bit difficult for me. My measurement system consists more of scientific terms like: “some”, “a few splashes”, and “until it smells right”.

But when it comes to baking, I've always followed recipes religiously because baking does seem to require more precision. Which, funnily enough, is why my mom can't bake. Her pineapple upside-down cake is only upside-down 'cuz that's the only way she can get it out of the pan. With the help of a hammer. And a lot of sweating and a rapid stream of Thai expletives. So the family - in a fit of self-preservation - calls on me at Christmas time to deliver the baked goods. And for that reason, I follow baking recipes down to every last 1/16th of a teaspoon. The fact that I'm experimenting with baking recipes is actually me going out on a serious limb here.

Anyway, back to cooking.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup sweet butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ brown sugar

Add ins:
about ¼ - ½ cup nutella
½ cup raisins
¼ cup shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Sift flour, salt and cinnamon into a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, cream butter until soft. Add white sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat eggs and vanilla together, then stir into the butter-sugar mixture. Mix well, then stir in the dry ingredients. Add brown sugar and mix thoroughly.

[Interesting side note: The baseline recipe I used to launch my experiment called for only 2 cups of flour, but this produced a mixture so wet it reminded me of the time I worked at a B&B and was making chocolate chip cookies for a busy weekend. I got distracted by the phone and ended up with only half the flour I was supposed to have, leading to a chocolate-buttery splooge instead of proper cookies. Being busy and not a little panicked, I scooped it up into little bites and sprinkled powdered sugar over it, and smiled nonchalantly as the guests gobbled it up. Goes to show: add enough sugar and butter and you can't go too far wrong with what people will eat. However, for this recipe, there was no way the sticky mess would roll into a decent log, so I doubled the flour and added a little brown sugar and salt for good luck.]

4. Spread out a generous handful of flour on a rolling mat or cutting board. In the bowl, knead the dough into a ball and cut roughly in half. Take one half and roll out into a ¼”-thick rectangle (I think mine was about 9 x 12” in size.) - orienting it with one of the longer sides facing you is probably easiest.

[Another note: a superb rolling pin is a MUST in any baker's kitchen. Anything less is like showing up to the Preakness with a mule.]

Using a butter knife, carefully spread a thin layer of nutella across the dough, trying to get as close up to the edges as possible. Then very carefully, take one of the longer ends and begin to roll the whole piece into a log. The first bit takes a little bit of coaxing, but it goes fairly smoothly if you're delicate with it. Wrap the log and stick it in the freezer to chill until hard to the touch (about 45 mins – 1 hour).

5.Take the bowl with the other half of the dough and knead in the raisins and coconut.

6.Grease two cookie sheets really well. Scoop spoonfuls of the dough and roll each like a ball between your palms until smooth and round.
Place them at least an inch apart on the cookie sheets and bake about 15 minutes or until the edges just start to turn brown. This will leave them crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7.When the nutella log is ready, pull it out of the freezer. Unwrap the foil, and with a sharp knife, cut the log into ½”-inch pieces. Like so:
Place them about an inch apart on lightly greased cookie sheets (I just reused the ones from the coconut raisin cookies, without washing them in between because I was lazy to get the perfect amount of grease.).
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yields about 18-20 coconut raisin cookies...
and 32 cinnamon nutella cookies.

Survey said:
YUM! These make really cute, decorative cookies, and being a little less malleable than regular chocolate chip-style cookies, they're easier to stack, organize and present. The flavor combinations are really wonderful too, with the coconut raisin cookies more on the spicy side and the nutella cookies on the nuttier side. I'm not usually a fan of the harder, crispier, crunchier cookies, usually erring more on the side of soft and gooshy, but these are super flavorful. In fact, they're downright deceptive: so easy to pop in your mouth, you don't even notice you've become a glutton until you've eaten half the plate. (cough) 'Cept I would never do a thing like that. Nope. Not me. (cough) All in all, these would be great additions for any party! ♥♥♥

Rating System:
♥♥♥♥♥ Omigod this is awesome, I could eat it every night!
♥♥♥♥ Wow this is amazing for a special meal!
♥♥♥ Great choice for a dinner party!
♥♥ Hey, that was pretty good. We should have it again sometime.
♥ Eh. S'all right....
♠ Ugh, no! That was so bad I just had to share.


  1. It's funny, I prefer baking over cooking. I've never understood it when people say they can't bake...since it's pretty much just a set of directions to follow.

  2. Yeah, me too. I mean, at least for most things. I haven't exactly tried a fondant-encrusted 7-tiered wedding cake or anything super complicated.

    But my mom is the type who is much better at giving directions than following them. :)

  3. So I'm looking for your You Capture post from a link from the comment you left on Treasured Chapters, and I see the Nutella jar. LOVE Nutella!! These sound delicious.

    Did I mention I love Nutella?

  4. Hehehe...I think you'd love these then! The trick is to freeze them so they cut real clean, otherwise you end up with smeary Nutella. But then again, how far can you go wrong with smeary Nutella?

  5. I love your scientific measurements. haha.

    Lucky you your mom was trained by the Kings chefs. I want to fly over to California just to try her food!

  6. I was definitely spoiled when it came to my mama's cooking!

  7. those look amazing. I could go for one right now!


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