White chocolate coconut dream cookies

A few weeks ago one of my best friends in the whole world got on a plane and it dumped her RIGHT HERE in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Actually, the plane dumped her in Chicago, and then in Raleigh and then I shlepped over in my mini van and picked her up.

Here's the thing about my best friend, whose name will go unspoken because of what i'm about to tell you.  She's a vegan now.  Which is ok, because she's doing it because she's a good liberal and the meat/animal market is pretty effing bad for animals and bad for the world and bad for the environment.  I respect that.

You're probably wondering why I'm telling you animal products are bad right before recommending that you bake cookies with 3 sources of animal fat in them.  That's fair.  It's a confusing turn of events.  This is the thing, that my lovely friend and I used to bond over the following things:  cookies.

That's actually all.  Our friendship is based 100% on cookies and now it is crumbling (lol cookie puns).

Our friendship is not crumbling, it is as tough as a vegan cookie.  But it has brought to light exactly how much importance I place on eating with the people I love.  That probably seems obvious based on this blog.  My lovely vegan companion, however, has thrown a wrench in the works and I'm wondering if anyone could drop some great vegan recipes on me so that I can feel my heart swell as we share a cookie once again.

The other possibility is that she will read this post and feel so guilty that she'll give up on this lifestyle choice and eat these cookies with abandon because she will be reminded of the joy of evil animal products and return to the dark side, which is mostly what I want.  

These cookies are both an ode to my friendship with this Random Vegan Girl and also a play on a white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.  You might feel like there are a lot of random extra ingredients in here but milk powder, cream cheese and browned butter and going to make these cookies a wonder to behold.

A Short Lesson On Browning Butter:  Browning butter is basically the process of cooking the water out of butter and toasting the milk solids so that they get this really amazing, nutty flavor.  My favorite blogger, Joy The Baker, is the reigning queen of all things browned butter and she has a really good guide on her site, but I'll include my tips here.

Place whatever amount of butter you are browning in a frying pan over medium heat and melt.  If you have a light-bottomed pan, use that.  Visual and nasal cues are very important in this process. Once the butter is melted, hang out with it, swirling the pan occasionally.  The butter will foam - that's good.  It means the water is cooking out.  Once that subsides, watch very closely, stirring lightly.  You'll the white solids begin to turn brown.  This will happen fast, so I usually turn off the stove as soon as I see the solids begin to darken.  Remove from pan once they've reached a deep amber color.

Congratulations, you've officially browned butter.  It can now be used to improve your quality of life 1,000%.  What a world.

WHITE CHOCOLATE COCONUT DREAM COOKIES

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, browned (see directions above) and cooled
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup instant milk powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 cups roughly chopped white chocolate.

Place coconut flakes in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and stir constantly until flakes have turned golden brown and you can smell them.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Beat together cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer until no lumps remain and the mixture is light and airy.  Add the browned butter (making sure to scrape out all the browned bits at the bottom) and sugars and continue beating.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat for a few minute until the mixture is very pale and fluffy.

In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to mixer and stir on low until just combined.  Remove mixing bowl from stand and add white chocolate and coconut.  Fold in using a wooden spoon.

Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.  This seems unimportant but makes a big difference in the texture of the cookie, and also allow the dough to meld more fully for a better flavor.

When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F and grease a baking pan (or line with parchment paper).  Spoon 2 tbsp size balls onto the sheet, leaving about 2 inches in between.  Top with flaky sea salt!  Bake cookies about 15 minutes until the edges are golden.

Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.