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Coconut Shortbread Cookies

Coconut Shortbread Cookies! These perfectly buttery shortbread cookies have a lovely coconut flavor. The cookies are topped with coconut sugar two times for extra crunch and flavor.

To start my coconut shortbread recipe testing I made the dough once with with coconut flour and again with shredded unsweetened coconut. These are very different products and I wanted to see which would work best to make a really good shortbread cookie with distinctive coconut flavor.

For both tests I replaced an equal amount of all purpose flour with the coconut product.

The results I got were totally different, although both were promising in their own way. This is why I find baking so fascinating. Just the smallest change in ingredients and you get a completely different result.

a round of shortbread dough and a tray of shortbread cookies
The first batch of shortbread made with coconut flour: They didn’t spread at all and you can see the dough was quite dry.
a blob of shortbread dough and a tray of shortbread cookies
The first batch of shortbread made with shredded coconut: They spread too much and you can see the dough was very soft.

Not wanting to waste a good opportunity, I decided to veer in both directions and make two very different coconut cookies. The version using shredded coconut ended up as Coconut Thin cookies.

The first batch of shortbread made with coconut flour had a decent texture, but they were also very dry. This isn’t surprising since coconut flour has less fat than shredded coconut and is even more absorbent than all purpose flour.

For the second test I tried adding a little cream of coconut. Not only would cream of coconut add some fat, I thought it would enhance the coconut flavor. Unfortunately, even that little bit of moisture threw off the texture of the shortbread. The cookies were tough and dry and the flavor was only marginally more coconutty. Why?

The “short” in shortbread refers to the fact that without much water the dough doesn’t develop long gluten strands. Less developed gluten means your cookie will have a tender and crumbly texture. Even just a little moisture from the coconut cream developed the gluten, which made for some tough cookies.

What’s another way to add moisture to a cookie? Sugar! Yep, sugar is not only sweet, sugar helps retain moisture and keeps the dough tender. I added an extra ounce of sugar to the dough.

The added sugar also enhanced the coconut flavor, even when I cut the amount of coconut flour in half. A sprinkle of coconut sugar just before and just after baking adds a final layer of coconutty flavor to the cookies.

You can cut these cookies into squares or bake them in a round to make “petticoat tails”. I think the petticoat tails have a nicer texture, but either way the cookies are delicious.

Scroll through the process photos to see how to make Coconut Shortbread:

a bowl with chunks of butter and sugar. A bowl with creamed butter and sugar.
Put the butter, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Cream to bring the ingredient together. Don’t incorporate too much air.
a cup of coconut flour pouring into a mixing bowl. Coconut flour mixed into dough in a bowl.
Add the coconut flour to the dough and mix to combine.
Flour added to shortbread dough. Flour mixed into dough. A hand knead bits of flour into shortbread dough.
Add the all purpose flour and mix until almost all the flour is absorbed. Finish kneading in the flour by hand.
a bowl of sugar with a spoon
Combine granulated sugar and coconut flour to make coconut sugar for topping the shortbread.

How to make square shortbread cookies:

1. A 10" square of dough. 2. 25 square cut from a large square. 3. Unbaked shortbread cookies on a try. 4. Baked shortbread cookies on a tray.
1. Roll to a 10″ square. 2. Cut 25 two inch cookies. 3. Sprinkle the cookies with coconut sugar before and after baking. 4. The cookies will spread a little bit in the oven.

How to make petticoat tail shortbread cookies:

1. A 10" round of dough. 2. A kinife scoring a round of dough. 3. A round of unbaked shortbread on a try. 4. A round of baked shortbread on a tray.
1. Roll to a 10″ round. 2. Score the dough to 16 wedges. 3-4. Sprinkle the round with coconut sugar before and after baking.

For all you coconut lovers (I’m one!) here are some more recipes for you to try: Coconut Pound Cake, Snow White Coconut Cake, Coconut Passionfruit Cake, Coconut Macaroons, Pina Colada Pie and German Chocolate Cake.

If shortbread is your favorite cookies, peruse these recipes: Rose Shortbread, Tahini Shortbread, Savory Shortbread, Lemon Curd Filled Shortbread, Apricot-Lavender Shortbread, Sourdough Shortbread.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Print Recipe
5 from 3 reviews

Coconut Shortbread

The only thing better than a perfectly buttery shortbread cookie is buttery and coconutty shortbread.
Prep Time20 mins
Bake Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
25 cookies

Ingredients

  • 8 oz unsalted butter (1 cup, room temperatures (see note *))
  • 5 oz granulated sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 oz Coconut Flour (1/2 cup)
  • 5 oz all purpose flour (1 cup)

Coconut Sugar

Instructions

  • Combine the butter, sugar and salt in a mixer bowl and beat until softened and combined, do not aerate. Add the coconut flour and mix to combine. Add the all purpose flour. Mix until a dough comes together.
    8 oz unsalted butter, 1/4 teaspoon table salt, 2 oz Coconut Flour, 5 oz all purpose flour, 5 oz granulated sugar
  • To make square cookies: On a sheet of parchment paper pat the dough to a small square. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll to a 10"x 10" square. Use the straight edge of a ruler or a bench scraper to square off the edges. Slide the paper on to a sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes. (At this stage the dough can be wrapped frozen for later use). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • To make "petticoat tail" cookies: On a sheet of parchment paper pat the dough to a small disc. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll to a 10 round. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges of the round. Use a long knife to score the round into 16 wedges, do not slice all the way through the dough. Poke each wedge with a fork 3x. Slide the paper on to a sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes. (At this stage the dough can be wrapped and frozen for later use). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • While the dough is chilling, combine the granulated sugar coconut flour in a small bowl.
    3 tbsp granulated sugar, 1 tbsp Coconut Flour
  • For square cookies: Remove the pan from the refrigerator and slide the paper with the dough off the pan. Use a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut the dough into twenty five 2" x 2" squares. Slide the dough with the cookies back onto the sheet pan and space them out evenly. Poke each cookie 3x with a fork. Sprinkle the cookies with the coconut sugar, reserving a couple of tablespoons to add after baking.
  • For petticoat tails: Remove the pan from the refrigerator and sprinkle the cookies with the coconut sugar, reserving a couple of tablespoons to add after baking.
  • Bake the cookies until the center is set and the edges are lightly browned, about 10-20 minutes (shorter for square cookies, longer for petticoat tails). If you're oven bakes unevenly, rotate the tray halfway through baking. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle them with a light coating of the reserved coconut sugar. For the petticoat tails allow the round to cool completely then use a long knife to cut along the scored lines.

Equipment

My Book
KA Stand Mixer
Half Sheet Pans
Parchment Sheets
Food Processor
Pizza Cutter

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Notes

*The butter should be pliable and slightly cool, not greasy or melty.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cookie | Sodium: 30mg | Calcium: 3mg | Vitamin A: 227IU | Sugar: 7g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 8mg | Cholesterol: 20mg | Calories: 124kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Fat: 8g | Protein: 1g | Carbohydrates: 13g | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!
Recipe Rating




Ryan M

Sunday 26th of June 2022

I made these and we are enjoying them. Good cookie. Coconut flour can be difficult to use, thank for working out the kinks. I didn't end up using the coconut flour and sugar at the end when they came out of the oven for our personal preference.

Eileen Gray

Sunday 26th of June 2022

Yes, coconut flour is amazingly absorptive. It can be a bit tricky.