Whipped, marshmallowy coconut lemon cream sandwiched between two chewy and tender blueberry-and-vanilla-bean-littered cookies.
After returning from a trip to Penang with a friend who’s seen me through the best and worst of times (thanks for tolerating me Ruru, if you’re reading!), I felt like making something which would preserve a few key memories just that much longer. There was one night we were sipping cocktails by the beach, the undulating waves smoothing out the ridges of our minds left behind by whatever burdensome thoughts or happenings that inhabited its corners. Thought back to a creamy pina colada. Lemon and coconut. Blueberries. Beach and zen. The picture was made whole.
The trip was filled with laughter, food so good just thinking about it makes my heart beat a little faster, unanticipated hair-lightening treatments from the glaring sun, and ease apace with excitement. I remember waking up at 3:15am the last night at the hotel for no reason at all, caught in a mild trance, so happy to be alive. Surreal, but hopeful. Time spent with the right people and the accompanying in-depth discussions on anything and everything unleashes new takes on life and all it has to offer. When the glimmer of the world seems to disappear, a little getaway revs the psyche.
The factors which elevate this cookie sandwich to a whole new level are:
– the right ratio of white to dark brown sugar. Dark brown sugar provides the desirable hit of molasses, but it’s also slightly more acidic so it reacts more with the baking soda, making it rise more. It must be balanced with the right amount of white sugar for the perfect combination of fudge and crisp.
– melted butter. This produces denser, chewier cookies; the creaming process incorporates too much air so I chose to do away with it, though it may be desirable in other cake-based recipes
– refrigeration. Yes, it makes a mammoth difference, and you can read more about it here. More on this a bit later.
– and finally, the almost pornographic smushing together of warm cookie and cool, whipped lemon coconut cream. The combination of flavours here just can’t be beat.
I mean, really.
Have the cookies by themselves, in which case you won’t be missing out on much. Each cookie is charmingly ridged at the edges, character obtained only by the mandatory chilling before baking. This serves to dry out the cookie dough a little, thereby concentrating the sugars to produce a chewier, more flavourful cookie. The use of dark brown sugar in this case means that you end up with a rich hint of molasses, and a moist interior devoid of excess ‘doughiness’. The cookies also spread a little less during baking because the fat is solidified during the crucial resting process, and though one would think this would reduce the chewy factor, it only does the opposite.
Or crown them with this divine lemon curd-flavoured cream. It’s a magical dance of pina colada-esque beachside vibes and the natural purity of a chewy cookie lucky enough to be on the sunny island in the first place. I might be getting a bit carried away.
Blueberry Vanilla Bean Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Coconut Cream (makes 11-12 medium-sized, or 3-inch wide cookies; adapted from my an old cookie recipe)
Note: Feel free to double this recipe! I halved and adjusted the quantities from my previous experiment just to test it, and the first trial turned out much better than I thought. So go ahead and multiply accordingly, if you so wish.
For the cookies:
95g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
half a vanilla bean with the insides scraped out, or substitute with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
85g (half cup) white sugar
70g dark brown sugar
115g unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
70g (half cup) fresh or frozen blueberries
For the coconut lemon cream:
150g chilled, canned coconut milk (take a can and leave it in the fridge overnight, then open it to reveal a thick, more ‘whipped’ consistency)
50g (2 heaping tbsp-fuls) of lemon curd
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate, smaller bowl, rub the vanilla bean into the white sugar. Skip this step if you don’t have vanilla bean. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, dark brown sugar, white sugar speckled with vanilla bean, vanilla extract (only if you’re not using the vanilla bean, and the egg. Add the flour mix to the melted butter mix and stir briefly until just combined with a wooden spoon. Add the blueberries and quickly mix them in gently (sounds ironic, I know). A little pop here and there won’t hurt, but it’s better to let the oven to the work, creating those pockets of warm blue goo.
Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.While waiting for the cookies to cool, make the lemon coconut cream. In a bowl with an electrical whisk, beat together the chilled coconut milk and lemon curd. Beat on high for ~1 minute, at which point the coconut milk will look thick but the mixture is still pretty runny. Place the bowl in the fridge, during which time it will thicken into a more mousse-like texture. It’s quite magical.
Preheat your oven to 190C (375F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the cookies have rested, take them out of the fridge and use a tablespoon to scoop out the batter, then use your palms to roll gently into little balls. Place the balls on the cookie sheet and press down slightly to flatten them a little. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes.
Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the pan on a cooking rack before removing. Sandwich two with the chilled lemon coconut cream. Fear not, the cookie sandwich has made one hell of a comeback.