When I was baking the traditional ghanakatha cookie from Sri Lanka I was surprised that I found no trace of coconut in it. The Sri Lankans are crazy about coconuts. They use the thick, hard shells to make bowls and spoons, the juice of young coconuts is drunk from the green nut and the white meat – in all stages of maturity – is used in almost every dish.
At the market, everybody shakes and taps the nuts to find out how ripe they are. The older the nut, the harder the meat. To make coconut milk you need a ‘medium’ ripe coconut. At that stage the percentage of fat and moisture is just right to make a creamy milk. It is almost impossible to find a curry without coconut milk or coconut meat. And different curries call for coconut meat in different levels of ripeness. So for my variation of the ghanakatha cookie I just had to use coconut. This cookie with nutmeg is soft inside, crunchy on the outside and is perfect for cheering up a bleak winter day.
Ghanakatha cookie from Sri Lanka
For about 12 cookies
75 grams (¾ stick) of butter
100 grams (½ cup) sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
350 grams (2½ cups) flour
25 grams (¼ cup) dessicated coconut
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
½ teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tbsp ice cold water, if needed
shaved coconut for garnish
With an electric mixer beat the butter with the sugar and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes until light and creamy.
Add the egg and beat well.
Add the flour, coconut, vanilla seeds, the nutmeg and baking powder to the mixture.
Knead quickly into a smooth ball – if necessary add a little water if the dough is too crumbly. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 175°C / 375°F. Roll oval balls of about 25 g of dough, place on a cookie tray lined with baking paper and sprinkle with shaved coconut. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 min. until very light brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the cookie tray.
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