These are very tasty cookies – buttery, sweet, crumbly, with a distinct coconut flavour and a hint of lemon in the filling. They are sort of a cross between jam tarts, sugar cookies, and crumbles. I spotted the idea in the Gourmet magazine, but their recipe was a bit off and I also needed to replace almonds, so that’s what I’ve come up with.
Miniature food, although always cute, can be a pain to unmold. If you can’t really trust your mini muffin pan, if it caused a trouble before, I advise you to line the bottoms of the molds with parchment circles. It’s easier than it might seem, just fold a strip of parchment accordion style, and then cut out many circles at once. And another tip I wanted to share. The best tool for loosening these cookies (or anything else) from the mini-molds is a thin-bladed palette knife; works like a charm and can be purchased in any craft store.
For the filling:
- ½ heaped cup finely chopped apricots
- ½ cup apricot jam
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
For the dough:
- 6 oz (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp pure lemon extract
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
Make the filling:
The filling can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, covered, for a couple of days.
First, plump the dry apricots. Put them in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to the simmer over med/high heat. Drain, transfer into a small bowl. Add the apricot jam, zest, and lemon juice, stir to combine.
Make the dough, form and bake the cookies:
Generously butter the bottoms, sides, and tops of 24 mini-muffin molds. As I mentioned before, if your pan misbehaves, line the bottoms with parchment paper circles (it’s always better to be safe than sorry).
Beat the butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and extracts in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour. Mix until moist clumps form; the dough shouldn’t be all smooth, but when you squeeze it in your palm it should hold together nicely.
Transfer ¾ cup of dough into another medium-size bowl and, using your hand or a wooden spoon, mix in the toasted coconut. It will be the crumb-topping. Take a cookie sheet (medium will work), cover it with parchment, and crumble the coconut dough onto the sheet. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until needed.
Now divide the remaining dough equally between the mini-muffin molds. This is just enough to line all of them thinly. It will be about 1 heaped tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of dough for each mold. Press the dough into the molds, lining the bottom and building up the sides (a rather time-consuming task). There’s a nifty device available to aid in this process – tart tamper, or you can use (as I did) a pestle; just make sure you were not recently mashing garlic with it in a mortar.
Once all molds are lined with the dough, cover them with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 375F.
Fill the cold dough shells with the jam filling, dividing it equally (about 1 heaped teaspoon of filling for each mold). Now divide the chilled crumb toppings also equally between the cookies.
Bake the cookies until the topping is deep golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling, about 20-23 minutes. Cool completely in the muffin pan on a cooling rack. Loosen the sides of the cookies with a small offset spatula or palette knife, and then carefully remove them from the molds. If used the parchment circles for lining the molds bottoms, don’t forget to peel them off.
The cookies can be kept up to a week in an air-tight container at room temperature.