Chocolate Coconut Cookies

These resemble Florida coconut patties, a candy with a rich, coconut center, surrounded by a thin chocolate shell. In our cookie version, a creamy coconut center, somewhat like coconut cheesecake, is surrounded by a moist chocolate cookie. We dare say they’re just as irresistible.

MAKES ABOUT 2 1⁄2 DOZEN LARGE COOKIES
FOR THE COCONUT FILLING
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3⁄4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1⁄4 cups unsweetened coconut chips
FOR THE CHOCOLATE COOKIES
1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1⁄2 sticks) cool, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature

1. Position the rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. To make the coconut filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg yolk, then the vanilla, until smooth. Finally, beat in the coconut chips at a very low speed just until evenly distributed. Set this mixture aside.
3. To make the chocolate cookies, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until uniform; set aside.
4. Clean and dry the beaters. Soften the butter in a second large bowl, using the electric mixer at medium speed, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and airy but still a little grainy, about 1 more minute. Beat in the egg until smooth, no more than 20 seconds. Turn off the beaters, add the prepared flour mixture, and beat at a very low speed, just until well combined but not until not sticky. The dough should be stiff but still pliable.
5. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the dough. Working in the palm of your hand or on a clean, dry work surface, flatten the dough into a circle about 21⁄2 to 3 inches in diameter. Mound 2 teaspoons of the coconut filling in the middle of this circle, then fold the dough up onto the filling, making four sides that come up onto the filling but do not cover it, sort of like a little brown present (the chocolate dough) with tissue paper (the coconut filling) poofing out the top. Place the cookie on a large, ungreased baking sheet, preferably nonstick, then continue making the cookies,
spacing them about 2 inches apart on the sheet.
6. Bake for 9 minutes, rotate the sheet back to front, and continue baking for about 9 more minutes, or until the cookies are set, just starting to brown along the edges, but still slightly springy to the touch. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cool the baking sheet for 5 minutes before making more filled cookies and baking them as directed, or use a second large baking sheet to make the second batch while the first bakes.

Recommended storage
3 days at room temperature
Not recommended for freezing

Mix It Up!
Chocolate Coconut Almond Cookies: Reduce the coconut to 1 1⁄2 cups; add 1⁄2 cup ground almonds with the remaining coconut. Also add 1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract with the vanilla extract.
Chocolate Coconut Cookie Cups: Push a similar amount of dough into a mini muffin cup, rather than your hand; use your thumb to make a deep hole. Fill as directed with the coconut filling. Bake as directed and cool in the muffin tins before removing.
Chocolate Coconut Lime Cookies: Add 2 teaspoons grated lime zest and 1 teaspoon lime juice with the vanilla extract.
Chocolate Piña Colada Cookies: Reduce the coconut to 1 1⁄2 cups; add 1⁄2 cup finely chopped dried pineapple with the remaining coconut. Substitute rum extract for the vanilla extract.
Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies: Stir 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled, into the filling with the vanilla extract. Substitute sweetened coconut flakes for the unsweetened coconut chips.

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