I'm in the midst of a major lime kick, in case you hadn't already noticed. For most of the winter, which sadly extended into late April this year, I was all about lemons but now that we've apparently skipped spring entirely and jumped ahead to muggy summer weather, limes have claimed the spot as top citrus fruit in this house. They're great on their own, but I especially love the combination of lime and coconut. It just feels summery and brings back memories of being on vacation somewhere warm and tropical. Boy does that sound good right now.
These cookies aren't the first baked good I've made that included the coconut-lime combo, but they are definitely my favorite. I'd flagged them a few months ago on the Cook's Illustrated website, and got the push I needed to finally make them when Tessa shared her review a few weeks ago. The next day I found myself in the checkout line at my local warehouse club with a giant bag of limes and I haven't stopped baking with them since.
If you scan the ingredient list for these cookies you'll probably notice it includes a few ingredients that don't typically appear in most sugar cookies, primarily cream cheese and vegetable oil. There's also butter, but it's melted and thus no mixer is needed to cream the butter and sugar - these cookies can be made with just two bowls. The unique combination of ingredients and the mixing method leads to, hands down, the most perfectly chewy cookies I've ever had. I wish I could bottle the formula and make a million different cookie variations. These cookies had good lime flavor and while I detected coconut, I think it added texture more than anything. It's probably worth mentioning that this dough is really soft - unlike any I remember working with before. Try to work quickly and gently to shape the cookies or they may end up a bit flatter than intended.
If coconut and lime aren't your thing but you do enjoy chewy sugar cookies, you can still make this recipe! Simple omit the coconut, lime zest and lime juice from the recipe, substituting 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract where the lime juice is added below.
Chewy Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies
from Cook's Illustrated (also seen on The Cookin' Chemist)
2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 oz cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, chopped fine
1 teaspoon lime zest
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable (or canola) oil
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon lime juice
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar, the lime zest, and cream cheese in a large bowl (no need to stir them together yet). Put the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a pie plate and set aside. Pour the warm butter over the cream cheese mixture and whisk to combine - the mixture won't be completely smooth yet, that's fine. Whisk in the oil then the egg, milk and lime juice. Mix until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet, until a soft dough comes together.
Portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a cookie scoop, using about 2 tablespoons for each cookie. Working quickly (if you handle the dough too much you're more likely to wind up with flat cookies), roll the dough into a ball with your hands then roll in the sugar set aside in the pie plate previously. Repeat until you've used all of the dough, placing 12 cookies on each baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten the dough balls into discs that are about 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the remaining sugar in the pie plate, using about 2 teaspoons per sheet of cookies.
Bake the cookies, 1 tray at a time, for about 11-13 minutes, or until the edges are set and beginning to brown. The tops will be puffy and slightly cracked. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to the rack to cool completely.
Makes 24 cookies