I will always remember the peace that was found in the living room of my grandmother’s house in Canada. There was a giant bay window depicting the house of a man who lived across the street from her for 50 years and who, after a decent amount of time had passed, would one day become more than just a neighbor. The picture of his house through that window-white, plain, and hidden behind what I suspect was an old evergreen-peered into the room through sheer white curtains. I grew up in that house, and this room is where we would spend our mornings, our afternoons, our evenings. On the other side of the wall there were markings to represent all of the sizes I have been before my body just one day stopped sprouting upward. Next to those markings are cabinets that held cookies.
As tradition often dictates, the range of cookie varietals was rather rigid; there were maple creme, shortbread, and sometimes chocolate chunk. My grandmother has always been a simple woman, and the chocolate was often pushing it, pizzazz-wise. Now that I have grown, I see virtue in this rigidity. Let’s face it, you and I have known each other for a few years now, and surely we are both aware that I can pick up the slack for anyone who is uncertain on the chocolate chunk cookie front. There is, however, another side to this story, in which, after 26 years, I decide to reinvent my childhood classic: shortbread.
These cookies are partly inspired by my love affair with velvety, versatile coconut oil, and partly by a recent invitation I received to join a link up party, called Our Growing Edge. It’s a monthly event (that you should check out!) seeking to connect fellow food bloggers trying NEW THINGS. This month’s host is Caroline from Shrinking Single (let’s all just take a minute to talk about her Sweet Potato Turkey Skillet recipe), and do you know what theme she chose? TREAT YOURSELF.
My inner Tom Haverford, mouth full of cookies, decked out in velvet cashmere candy cane attire, jumped at the possibility to share this shortbread with a group of like-minded food bloggers. Crisp and coconut-y due to the substitution of coconut oil for softened butter; faintly aromatic thanks to a pinch of chinese five spice; full of crunchy walnuts and chewy chopped dates; this is the stuff that makes fiddling with the classics a must.
One Year: Trottole with Olive Pistou
Two Years: Marzipan Lingonberry Swirl Scone Cake with Buttermilk Glaze
Coconut Oil Shortbread with Dates and Walnuts
Makes About 2 Dozen
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chinese five spice
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut oil, in solid form (refrigerate ahead of time, if necessary)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and chinese five spice in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and coconut oil until mixed. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg, followed by vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in halves, stirring gently until just combined. Stir in dates and walnuts. Roll out cookie dough into a log, about 2 inches thick, and wrap in plastic wrap to refrigerate, minimum 45 minutes and up to 3 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice 1/4-inch thick rounds and evenly distribute on baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 min, rotating halfway through, until the edges are golden and the center of the cookie is cooked through. Let cool completely on rack. Store in airtight container, up to four days.