While I was looking for recipes for the classic rosquilla cookie from Nicaragua I found many recipes using coconut. Nicaragua is lined by a tropical coast on two sides and the coconut palm likes sandy soil close to the sea. That means coconut palms are plentiful and coconuts are cheap. In this country’s kitchen all the different parts of the coconut are used in both sweet and savory dishes. The fresh or dried flesh of the coconut is used in cakes, cookies and stews, coconut milk is a base for soups and stews, coconut water is drank fresh, used to cook things in – and for cocktails! – and baking and frying is done in coconut oil. I mixed some grated desiccated coconut in with my cookie dough and added some vanilla. I like this cookie best straight from the oven or just slightly cooled down when you bite through a crunchy crust into a soft, warm center.
Corn and coconut cookie
for about 25 cookies
75 grams (unrefined) sugar
175 grams (1 cup) masa harina*
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
60 grams (½ stick) butter
½ tbs egg, lightly beaten
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
25 grams desiccated coconut (⅓ cup) + extra for garnish
175 grams (1 cup) queso fresco (or use paneer or well drained ricotta)
Grate the unrefined sugar.
Mix the sugar with the masa harina, the baking powder and the salt.
Melt the butter and mix in with the egg, the vanilla and the coconut.
Crumble in the queso fresco and add 125 ml (½ cup) of water.
Knead into a smooth dough. The cheese should be incorporated completely. Mix in some extra water if the dough stays crumbly.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Make little balls of about 20 grams of the dough and press them a little flatter. There will be little cracks, but that does not matter. If the dough is too dry to form, just knead in a little more water. Start with 1 tablespoon.
Place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 mins. or until golden brown. Take out of the oven and leave to cool slightly.
* masa harina: a super fine type of corn flour. The corn used for this flour is dried first. It is then boiled in water with slaked lime, ground and dried again. This whole process makes the corn easier to digest and makes for a more pliable dough. You cannot use ordinary corn flour for this cookie so you will have to make a trip to a speciality store or order a packet online.
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