Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lemon- White Chocolate Coconut Cookies (and a lengthy story about clarified butter)

Hello! For my first EVER baking post (eeks I’m getting excited!), I want it to be something as new as I am to the blogging world. Every so often I ditch my many cookbooks and bookmarked recipes and let loose. In baking, letting loose can sometimes pose as a big mess, especially when you’re feeling lucky and dare to mess around with baking soda and whatnot. But other times, if you just switch and swap regular softened butter with clarified butter experimentally, you’ll discover that it IS humanly possible to melt away in awe. So let me tell you how this butter situation came to be.

I needed a sweet fix. (Also I just wanted to bake.) But of course when I came around to the fridge, we had only ½ a stick of butter and the cookies I intended to make required two. I tend to steer clear from panic mode in the kitchen, but I just really had a pesky cookie craving and I couldn't settle for a spoonful of nutella. I continued gathering the rest of the stuff, still rummaging through my mental list of butter substitutions. (Note: Only use applesauce if you don’t care about your taste buds.) I wandered upon a glass container with “ghee.” Hmmm.  Mom had made what is commonly called “clarified butter” a couple days ago. Clarified butter is the translucent golden butterfat (yes…I know) left over after the milk solids, water and salt are removed. But that's beside the point.  It’s melted ever so slowly to deepen the flavor, and it had become this glossy spreadable concoction. I thought about it for a good minute and decided that life is too short to disregard something as beautiful and rich, nutty and lustrous as clarified butter. I threw in what was left along with my modest half stick of butter and any further doubts went out the window.

But the “ghee” I used, was my mom’s doing- not mine. So I asked her to walk me through the mystery that is clarified butter and today, I made some of my own! I’ve concluded that though it requires a bit from the patience department, from the point it melts and cools and transforms into a spreadable state; clarified butter is just so special that it’s worth every minute. It’s much MUCH more rich and buttery than…butter, which sounds bizarre but really. It’s so shiny, almost like it has its own pristine personality. I spent today dipping my finger into the jar and asking my mother a billion questions about it and how they used it in India- smack slathered on top of a paratha. I love the idea and it, and though the self-professed Nutritionist in me scolds me every time my finger goes into the jar (which frankly is pure butter fat at the end of the process), I slap a word of moderation across and continue to live happily.

Anyways, that’s enough clarified butter talk. But I have to say that these cookies are just spectacular in all the ways a cookie can be thanks to it. They are soft and chewy, moist and creamy; lemony and nutty. The butter gives them a velvety texture and a aromatic undertone which is a tad different from ordinary cookies that tend to get hard as they sit. It’s a classic white chocolate cookie with the volume turned to blast. And to take them even further, I dip one side into melted white chocolate and sprinkle on some toasted coconut!  Yes, why stop when you don’t have to!? 

By the way, these come with an implied warning label so don’t blame me if you eat them all in one sitting. : )




      1 ½ cups all purpose flour
      ½ tsp baking soda
       ¼ tsp baking powder
       ¼ tsp salt
       ½ stick of unsalted butter, softened
       ½ cup (I stick) clarified butter, cooled
       ½  cup granulated sugar
       1/3 cup brown sugar
       1 teaspoon vanilla
       2-3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
       ¾ cup Coconut
       1 cup white chocolate (and more for dipping)

To make the clarified butter: Put a stick of butter right into a saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low. When the butter has completely melted, be patient and keep it there over low heat. It’ll start transforming; slowly but so fragrantly. When the melted butter starts boiling, it will begin to foam and sputter a lot at first as the water boils off. Continue boiling the butter, uncovered. Its gets reaaaally foamy, but just you wait…
As the butter melts, it will slowly separate into 3 layers.

Slowly the liquid on top becomes more and more transparent. When the clarified butter has a golden transparent color, there is very little foam left on the surface, and the solids settle comfortably on the bottom…that’s when the clarified butter is ready. The cooking time is approximately 25 minutes, depending on the heat and the kind of pot that you use. So yeah, that’s it! Just strain it quickly and let it cool on the counter. Then pop in the fridge for a couple hours before you use it. I know,  there’s A LOT of down time in between, so if you decide on making these, make the butter way ahead of time and you’re good to go.

  1.     .   Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2.         In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3.          In a larger bowl, beat the ½ stick butter, ½ cup clarified butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. (A whisk will do just fine if your butters are soft enough.)
  4.         Add the egg, lemon zest and vanilla. Beat a few seconds more until it gets fluffy.
  5.         Gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture. Beat until JUST combined.
  6.       .  Fold in white chocolate chips and coconut. (Taste the batter! It’s awesome.)
  7.      Drop by a rounded teaspoon onto lined or greased baking sheet, bake for only 8-10 minutes. These are perfect slightly underdone, as the hot cookie sheet will keep them toasting for a couple more minutes. 

Pretty simple, right? The clarified butter is the only somewhat tricky part, but trust me, once you nail the melting part, it’s all smooth sailing. Enjoy guys! (And thanks so much for reading.) 


  1. You must pat on your back. I hate ghee but your introduction and description to it actually made me fall in love with it. Just virtually though haha!

    Pretty awesome job on making the "clarified butter"...because here, we have them filled in jars already and I never knew how to make it!

    The cookies seem appetizing, love it :)

  2. I loooove this post. As i was reading the part where ur mom was showing u how to make ghee, i totally was like awee wish i was there!!! :*( miss u guys sooo much.
    Btw i love using ghee when there is no butter. Taste great in american cooking.
    And those cookies look amaaaazing. Send me some whenever naushad decides to visit!!! ;)
    Love u all.