Who likes getting cookies in the mail?
This is my second year participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I love doing it. Food bloggers come together (virtually) to exchange cookies, get to know each other a little, and raise money to fight pediatric cancer through Cookies For Kids’ Cancer. You send in a small donation, then get matched up with three other bloggers, and send them each a dozen cookies. In the meantime, three OTHER bloggers each send YOU a dozen cookies, and everybody blogs about on the same day, and sponsors match the donations, and everybody ends up happy: we raise money for a good cause, and cookies show up on our doorsteps. Win-win!
The dilemma for me is always what to make. The cookies have to ship well and should be somewhat holiday-ish, despite the fact that my decorating skills are sub-par. A double challenge.
With exquisite timing, just as I was poking around my Pinterest boards and baking blogs looking for the right recipe, my friend Scratchy started sending me packages full of exotic and unusual baking ingredients. (I don’t know why, really, except that she’s a wonderful person and she likes me. Also she loves food, and she sees a lot of cool stuff in her travels.) Among the gems that came my way was a trio of different flavored chocolate chips from La Boite. Fancy!
I set my sights on cinnamon-coconut cookies first, then brought out the chips. I tasted them all. I tasted them again. Then I ate some just because they had chocolate in them. (The website said I could.) Then I hid them again. What? No. Then I chose the Orchidea Chips! They’ve got Szechuan pepper, lime, and orchidea root, but instead of being spicy or scary or weird, they’re sweet and different and I thought they’d blend beautifully with both cinnamon and coconut.
It was a good call. The chips gave the cookies an extra dimension of flavor that pushed them over the top, making them both festive and addictive. (I doubled the recipe to make four dozen, which meant we got to keep some.)
I started with dry ingredients, opting for a whole wheat white flour/wheat germ combination instead of all-purpose flour. Added baking soda, salt, and a whole lot of cinnamon.
Time for the butter! I beat it with cane sugar and dark brown sugar.
Next up, egg and vanilla. I’ve been using this vanilla bean “crush” I got from the King Arthur Flour Company, which is basically extract flecked with some seeds.
I beat, per the instructions, until “whipped.”
After mixing in the dry ingredients, I happily poured in the coconut. I almost dove in after it.
And finally I added the chips. I started with a third of a cup, then added half of that again after a little eyeballing and a little sampling.
I used to think recipes that required dough-chilling were a pain in the butt, because of all the waiting, like in that Tom Petty song. But I’ve learned a few things. Not only do many, if not most, cookies shape better and taste better after some time in the fridge, the chilling can give you time to clean up and clear your counter space for the next phase. It’s efficient AND delicious.
A few hours later, I retrieved the dough and started scooping it into balls. Big round cookie dough balls are fun, but they bake up kind of puffy and lumpy.
For the next round, I used the bottom of a glass to flatten them, and liked them better.
The flavors came together so nicely. The coconut added some texture without overpowering the flavor, and the orchidea chips gave everything a little boost, but a gentle one, creating a unique taste combination that seemed completely natural even though I’d never tried it before.
While they all cooled, I printed up some labels, and got my shipping supplies together. I used “blouse boxes” from Target, without even really knowing what a “blouse box” is. Does it matter? It’s a cookie box now.
I packaged them up and shipped them off, then I sat back and waited for my bounty. First to arrive, these Spiced Yule Log Cookies from Leah’s Life.
Next, Chocolate Mint Truffle Snowballs from Cooking With Curls.
And finally, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies from Dang That’s Delicious.
CINNAMON-COCONUT COOKIES WITH ORCHIDEA CHIPS (adapted from Spache the Spatula)
makes 4 dozen
2 1/4 cups whole wheat white flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla crush (extract is fine)
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup, then half of that again of orchidea chips (you can be flexible on the type of chip and how many)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat again until whipped.
Add in the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Add the coconut and beat just until mixed. Take the bowl off the mixer and fold in the chips with a spatula. If you feel you need to, you can use the mixer for a few seconds to makes sure they’re evenly distributed.
Cover the dough in plastic wrap — I used a large ziploc bag — and chill for at least two hours.
When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees, and line a couple of cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment.
Using a medium cookie scoop (1-2 tablespoon-size), scoop the dough and place on the baking sheets, at least two inches apart. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten each cookie ball.
Bake for 10 minutes, just until the edges are set. Let the cookies stay on the tray for at least 5 more minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.