If anyone had told me that these would develop a committed cult following, I’d have told them they’d backed the wrong sweet. Not that they aren’t tasty and satisfying; they are. Not that their flavor and the memory of that flavor doesn’t linger; it does. And not that their texture flaky, crunchy and chewy at the same time isn’t fascinating; it is. It’s just that they seemed a touch too simple to become a gotta-have.
Because I use some toasted and some untoasted coconut, the cookie’s texture is both crisp and chewy. There is so much lime zest that the cookie reminds some people of a piña colada. All of this comes as a surprise, since the cookie masquerades as a plain coconut-dusted shortbread. I like to use sweetened coconut in the cookie dough because I like its chewiness, but I prefer the dryness of unsweetened coconut for the topping. However, it’s more of a technicality use what you’ve got.
Whisk the flour, cornstarch and coriander together.
Put the sugar and lime zest in the bowl of a stand or in a large bowl in which you can use a hand mixer and, using your fingertips, work the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and fragrant. If using a stand mixer, fit it with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and salt to the bowl and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Turn off the mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once. Pulse the mixer and then, when the risk of flying flour has passed, mix on low speed until the flour disappears into the dough.
Add the toasted and untoasted coconut and pulse to incorporate. There will probably be some dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl work them in by hand with a sturdy flexible spatula.
Turn the dough out and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk.
Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of a scant 1/2 inch.
Slide the sandwiched dough onto a baking sheet you can stack the slabs and freeze for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. The cookies will keep for about 3 days tightly covered at room temperature or for up to 2 months, well wrapped, in the freezer.
Getting Ready to Bake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325°F. Butter or spray a regular muffin tin, or two tins if you’ve got them. Have a 2-inch-diameter cookie cutter at hand.
Working with one sheet of dough at a time, peel away both pieces of parchment and put the dough back on one piece of parchment. Cut the dough and drop the rounds into the muffin tin(s). Save the scrapes from both pieces of dough, then gather them together, re-roll, chill and cut. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t completely fill the cups; it will once it’s baked. Sprinkle the tops with the unsweetened coconut, completely covering the rounds.
Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, rotating the tin(s) after 10 minutes, or until the cookies are a pale golden brown – they’ll be a deeper color around the edges and the coconut on top will be toasted. Transfer the tin(s) to a rack and wait for 15 minutes, then unmold the cookies and allow them to cool completely on the rack.
Repeat with the remaining dough, always using cool muffin tins.
To Toast Coconut:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Scatter the coconut over the sheet and bake, stirring often, until fragrant – your best test for doneness – and golden brown. The amount of color will depend on your preference. Cool before using.