The idea of grapefruit and coconut cookies had been dancing around in my head for weeks, but I kept putting it off. There was one day that I almost made it to the kitchen to turn this idea into reality, but then I wondered, rather lazily, do I really need to make a grapefruit curd for this? I stopped, paralyzed as I debated on whether it would be better to use a jar of grapefruit marmalade. I wondered what you, the reader, would like to see. I also was trying to gauge how much energy I had. Some days, I have limitless energy, like I can take on the world. Other days, not so much.
The marmalade idea wasn’t a total cop out. One of my favourite marmalade makers, Camilla (Preservation Society), happens to make a mean grapefruit honey marmalade that is to die for. I eat jars of it on buttered toast and by the spoonful. It would be so simple to fetch a jar of her grapefruit preserves and be done with it. No mise en place necessary to make the filling. No worry about curdling/overcooking the yolks because I didn’t have my strainer set at the ready next to the stove for fast transfer of finished curd from hot pot to cold bowl. There would be none of that if I had bought a jar of marmalade, but where’s the fun in that? Plus, I do adore a good homemade citrus curd. It’s the best!
I actually love making sweet pastry creams and creamy fruit curds like this grapefruit curd. True story. My mom pointed out, the last time I made a pastry cream in her kitchen, that I make curds and pastry creams so easily and almost effortlessly. I suppose I have learned from stumbling and screwing up many, many recipes in my kitchen that the secret to a creamy fruit curd that is soft but thick, without any unsightly hard eggy bits, is a good whisking technique and prepping everything in advance so that when the time comes, it’s a matter of just doing it and marching forward through the recipe without stopping, without hesitating, and without looking back. I think effortless happens when you know the steps and you are keenly aware of what to do next and when, and of course, what to look for as you plough forward. Ease comes with lots and lots of practice (and lots and lots of failures).
Clearly, I eventually came to my senses in the curd vs marmalade debate, and I headed to the kitchen to make this grapefruit curd because making bright, sunshine curd is happiness in my tiny world. Most times, when I make a curd, regardless of the purée or juice that I’m using, I always add in a squeeze or more of lemon juice (remember my blackberry almond Momofuku Milk Bar-style cake?). The acidity perks it up and brightens it. This time, my purist tendencies took over and I went ahead with freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice, exclusively. I wanted the bittersweet flavour to be prominent, and lemon juice has a tendency of taking over (not that there’s anything wrong with that—you all know I am passionate for lemon curd and tangy citrusy treats). So this curd is not tart. It is bittersweet. If you want tart, sub in a part of lemon juice. It’s that easy. I also considered adding some food colouring to give back that pink grapefruit colour to this curd, but then I didn’t. Food colouring isn’t very “me”, now is it? So my pink grapefruit curd is bright yellow-orange. No biggie.
These coconut cookies are rich and buttery, and not too sweet. And if the thought of making a curd has you less than excited, feel free to sandwich marmalade between them (or some ganache or chocolate spread)**, but you can also enjoy these coconut cookies plain.
- 173 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 55 grams (1/2 cup) ground coconut (made in a spice grinder from shredded unsweetened coconut)
- 188 grams (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
- Grapefruit curd (about half a batch), recipe follows
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, cream together the butter and sugar until it is creamy and soft.
- Add the salt and the egg yolk, and beat it until it is very well mixed, scraping down the sides as needed with a spatula.
- Beat in the ground coconut, mix well, then add the flour. Mix on low until the dough forms. Divide the dough in two, pat into disks, wrap in plastic, and chill for about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment.
- Roll out one disk of dough to a thickness of about ¼"-1/8" (not too thick, but not too thin). Cut out 2¼" circles with the dough, re-rolling the scraps to cut out more circles. You will end up with about 24 cutouts. Chill them on parchment-lined sheets for at least 15 minutes (30 minutes is better), then bake for 12–13 minutes, until the edges begin to brown a little. Let cool 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat the rolling and cutting with the 2nd disk of dough to make 24 more circles, but this time, cut out a window with a small heart cutter or another small circle cookie cutter. Chill and bake as before. You should now how 24 top cookies with windows and 24 bottom cookies to make sandwiches.
- When the cookies are cool, dollop a scant teaspoon of curd on the centre of each bottom cookie and top with a window cookie, twisting gently to glue them together.
- 84 mL (1/3 cup) freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 76 grams (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- In a small-to-medium saucepan, combine the grapefruit juice with half the granulated sugar. Set on a burner on medium–high heat.
- Meanwhile in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar. Whisk vigorously until the mixture turns a very pale, light yellow. Set aside.
- Place another bowl with a strainer over top next to the stove, and have the chopped butter ready on a plate close by as well. Have a heatproof spatula ready too. Do all this before going any further.
- When the grapefruit juice just comes to a boil, take the pot off the burner and pour it over the sugary egg mixture. Whisk to temper the eggs and combine all the ingredients together. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return the pot back onto the burner. Whisk the mixture over medium–high heat until it comes to a boil. Then boil the mixture for 1 minute, whisking like mad.
- After the minute has elapsed, immediately take the pot off the burner and turn it off. Drop the butter into the saucepan, a few pieces at a time, whisking constantly and when all the butter has disappeared into the curd, transfer it all to the strainer set over a bowl. Collect the curd in the bowl, then cover with cling film pressed directly on the surface to protect it from the air. Chill overnight.
** I absolutely FORBID YOU from buying lemon curd at the grocery store. I’ve tried a few brands, including some that make decent marmalades and jams, and every store-bought curd I tried was disgusting. Disgusting is a strong word on a food blog. I don’t use it lightly. I’d rather you buy raspberry jam and sandwich it between these coconut cookies, if you don’t want to make the curd.