I was in the mood to bake but didn't have many ingredients on hand. I was flipping through Caprial's Desserts, one the cookbooks I received for Christmas, and stumbled across this recipe. I first noticed the master recipe for vanilla bean shortbread cookies that I imagine yields pretty good cookies, but I wanted something a little different. The adapted recipe, which adds ginger and coconut, looked interesting.
I thought that the ginger and coconut combination was a great way to jazz up the flavor in this cookie, though I think the shredded coconut made it chewier than your typical shortbread cookie which is typically pretty crunchy (or maybe that was because I forgot to chop my shredded coconut?). The ginger flavor was very subtle, and I will probably try adding 3 tablespoons of ginger the next time I make this to make the flavor more prominent. Regardless, this is a great cookie!
I love that you can see the tiny little vanilla seeds in these cookies. If you don't have any vanilla beans on hand, you can leave them out, but the vanilla flavor won't come through as well.
*Note: When shopping for ginger, choose a piece that feels heavy for its size and has a nice, smooth skin (wrinkles are bad). Fresh ginger will keep well in the refrigerator for approximately 3 weeks if you wrap it up in a paper towel and seal it inside a ziploc bag. It also freezes fairly well so if you don't cook/bake with it very often, just pop the rest in the freezer. I usually peel it and cut it up into chunks before popping it in a ziploc to make it more convenient for later use. It will keep for approximately 3 months in the freezer.
Candied Ginger-Coconut Shortbread Cookies
from Caprial's Desserts
Follow the Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies master recipe (below), adding 1/2 cup chopped shredded sweetened coconut and 2 tablespoons minced candied ginger along with the flour and sugar. Proceed as directed in the master recipe.
Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies
from Caprial's Desserts
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
Place the flour and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean into the flour mixture (discard the bean), and then add the vanilla extract and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and mix just until the dough is smooth.
Spread a 20-inch-long piece of plastic wrap out on the counter. Place the dough on the plastic and form it into a 12-inch-long cylinder. Fold one side of the plastic over the dough, and then roll up the dough tightly in the excess plastic, rolling it on the counter to smooth it. Refrigerate the dough until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a sheet pan well and set aside.
Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place on the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack or paper towels and let cool completely.