Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
The Best Use for a Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk – Chocolate Coconut Miracles
The Best Use for a Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk – Chocolate Coconut Miracles

It was a close contest between these amazing chocolate coconut cookies and Banoffee tart, but the tart recipe cheated by first turning the milk into a rich caramel toffee sauce and then adding sliced bananas and mountains of whipped cream to tease, so the award goes to the cookies, for their outstanding flavor and incredible texture despite their simplicity (only 3 ingredients). But Banoffee Tart is definitely the second best use for a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Since I’ve been writing this blog I’ve noticed how frequently I describe food in terms of texture, and more specifically, contrasts of textures in the same bite. I’ve come to realize that texture plays as important a role in good food as flavor.

These cookies are a perfect example. They are crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, with an intense chocolate coconut flavor. Just imagine the flavors of a Mounds bar, the rich chocolate denseness of a brownie and the chewiness of a macaroon, all enclosed in a shiny crunchy outer shell. Each bite begs to be followed by a long swallow of cold fresh milk.

The only downside to these cookies is that they are best eaten the same day they are made. They can lose their crispness if stored tightly overnight and although they are still delicious, their magical qualities are gone.

Chocolate Coconut Miracles
Inspired by a similar cookie recipe from Maida Heatter.
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

The desiccated unsweetened coconut is the fine flaky kind, available in health food stores and most grocery stores in the produce or bulk foods section.

You must use parchment paper otherwise the cookies will refuse to leave the baking sheet. Be sure to follow the instructions about how to store them to retain the best texture.

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of desiccated unsweetened coconut.

Place the chocolate in the top of a large double boiler over warm water on moderate heat. Cover for a few minutes, with a folded paper towel (to absorb steam) and the pot cover, then uncover and cook until the chocolate is melted. Raise the heat to high (the water in the bottom of the double boiler should boil after the chocolate has melted). Add the condensed milk. With a rubber spatula, stir and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, cooking (over boiling water) for 5 minutes, during which time the mixture will thicken very slightly.

Remove the top of the double boiler; stir the mixture briskly a bit with a wire whisk until very smooth. Let stand, stirring occasionally with the spatula, for 10 to 15 minutes, during which time the mixture will thicken considerably more.

Meanwhile, adjust two racks to the two top positions in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

By now the chocolate mixture will have thickened still more. Stir in the coconut. Transfer to a small bowl for easier handling.

Use two teaspoons to shape the cookies, one for picking up with and one for pushing off with. Use a rounded teaspoon of dough for each cookie. Place them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart on the bakng pan liner paper. You should get 12 cookies on each sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, reversing sheets top to bottom and front to back once during baking to ensure even baking. During baking the cookies will flatten and spread out only slightly. They will feel very soft when done but will become more firm as they cool.With a wide metal spatula transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

These are best eaten right away or within the same day. Do not store them airtight or they will get soggy and lose their crispness. Simply place them on a plate, uncovered (or covered loosely with wax paper) until ready to serve.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

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