Variations on a theme

The summer semester has finally ended here at the U of I, which means this area is going to be more of a ghost town than usual for another week or two until the new graduate students move in, followed shortly after by hordes of new, confused freshmen and their equally-confused parents, and then by all the other returning students.  College towns are strange: they have a transient population of some 30,000 students who leave in May and return in August.  In between, on-campus restaurants struggle to draw in customers, and the graduate students who live here year-round take the time to enjoy the quiet.

Those same graduate students are moving into new apartments at this time of year.  I've already helped a couple friends move this summer, and am hopefully done with that, so the next interesting thing for me will be helping my boyfriend furnish his new apartment.  I've been keeping an eye on a do-it-yourself furniture blog, Knock Off Wood (where a woman in Alaska provides plans and detailed instructions for how to build nice furniture, which ends up being significantly less expensive than buying it), and hopefully that will be a good resource for putting together a bedframe or some bookshelves or something.  I shared this website with Phil a while ago, so it's actually his idea to build furniture for his apartment, but I'm excited to get to help, since I love building stuff.

I also (obviously) enjoy baking, which brings me to this week's cookie.

109. Coconut Macadamia Shortbread
It may seem surprising that I've made two coconut cookies in a row, but I did this on purpose: both this recipe and last week's recipe call for cream of coconut, which goes bad after a while, so I figured it would be a good idea to use it while it's guaranteed to be good (the rest will be going into piƱa coladas).

These cookies are not completely your basic shortbread.  The expected quantities of butter and flour are present, but this recipe calls for granulated sugar rather than confectioners' sugar.  The cookies are flavored with ground toasted macadamia nuts, finely shredded coconuts, coconut extract, and cream of coconut.  There's quite a lot of the first two flavoring ingredients in the cookies, and so I find that these do not quite have the usual shortbread texture, although they certainly have the usual shortbread richness.  And they taste very strongly of coconut.

The dough here was chilled, rolled out (with some extra unnecessary instructions involving more time in the refrigerator), and cut using whatever I had with a scalloped edge, which ended up being my Linzer Cookie Cutter.  These were brushed with egg white and sprinkled with more coconut before being baked.  The coconut on top gets toasted nicely in the oven and looks pretty, too.

Overall, I have to say I like these cookies, although I don't see myself going out of my way to buy cream of coconut for them.  I also have to confess that the dough for these tastes REALLY GOOD, and for once I don't have to worry about salmonella, as shortbread doesn't have any egg in it.

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