Coconut-Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

A gift.

Ten years ago I was living in a tiny home in the Silicon Valley of California.  My husband and I had a postage stamp sized yard that we adored and thought of as an extension of our home.  We spent long mornings there, and sun dappled afternoons with our noses in books, content and relaxed.  All I need to do to have this time of my life come rushing back is smell the sweet, intoxicating perfume of a citrus blossom.  You see, at the time we were graduate students and one way I managed stress was to grow things.  I filled every empty corner of our patio with ceramic pots, planting them with roses, lavender, and dwarf citrus trees.  I grew Satsuma mandarins, Kaffir limes, Meyer lemons, and Kumquats.  These little trees were my therapy and I tended them with care and love.  I can still remember the thrill of eating their fruit, so sweet and tangy that they were a revelation.

When it came time to move out of state, my citrus children were painstakingly re-homed.  Mostly I gave them to friends and neighbors, but I gave one special tree to my mother-in -law.  This wasn’t just any lemon tree, it was a Meyer lemon tree, with smooth skinned, mildly tangy fruit.  A lemon without the bite and hyper-acidity of the classic grocery store variety.  As a certified citrus lover, I knew my mother-in-law would care for and enjoy this special tree.  It was a good decision….

Now it has grown into a gorgeous tree that’s bursting with beautiful, fragrant lemons.  Its prolific fruit brings with it the gift of giving and sharing, providing enough for friends, family, and neighbors.  Last weekend I was lucky enough to enjoy some of its fruit, and they were the inspiration behind the following holiday cookie recipe.  A bright, refreshing alternative to some of the sweeter options on your holiday table.

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies

  • ½ cup coconut oil (not melted)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar (I use a corn free variety)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (click here for corn-free notes)
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix (click here to see the one I used)
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (I use one that isn’t grown on corn)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup shredded, sweetened, coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment or silpat mats.

1.  In the bowl of your mixer, combine the coconut oil and powdered sugar.  Mix with the paddle attachment until combined.

2.  Add the honey, egg and vanilla and mix for an additional minute or until fully incorporated.

3.  Add the remaining ingredients (flour, xanthan gum, salt and shredded coconut) and mix for about a minute more, or until you have a cohesive dough.

4.  Working with one tablespoon of dough at a time, roll it into 1 inch balls.  Make an indentation in the center with your thumb.  Place on prepared sheet pan.

5.  Bake on center rack in oven for 10-11 minutes.  The bottoms will just begin to turn golden brown and the tops will still feel a bit soft as they firm a bit upon cooling.  Cool on racks.

6.  When the cookies are completely cool, fill with lemon curd (or jam) and serve.  * These cookies can be made in advance, frozen in an airtight container.  Remove them from the freezer about one hour before serving and fill as desired shortly before serving.  A great make ahead dessert for your holiday parties or buffet!

Yields 12-16 small cookies.  (The recipe doubles easily if you need more)

1-2-3 Lemon Curd

  • 4 whole eggs
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • zest of on lemon
  • 5 tablespoons butter substitute of choice (non-hydrogenated shortening, coconut oil, or Earth Balance margarine) *

1.  Place the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan and whisk until combined.  Now add the butter substitute that you are using.

2.  Stirring constantly with a heat-proof spatula, heat the mixture over medium heat.  Be sure to frequently scrape into the corners and across the bottom of the pan so that the mixture doesn’t get overcooked in these areas.  Continue stirring until the mixture almost boils (I wait for one or two bubbles to pop on the surface), and remove the pan from the heat.

3.  Strain the lemon curd into a glass bowl through a fine mesh strainer (this is an important step and will remove any little cooked bits of egg or large pieces of zest).  Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the surface and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until fully chilled.


6 thoughts on “Coconut-Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

  1. Hi Terris, what a wonderful story. Wish I knew you when you were here. I’m terrible at taking care of plants – used to be good, but with kids and everything else I tend to abandon them… now we have fake turf in the backyard and some bushes and cactus (deer eat plants…). Inside home has all fake plants too (as we travel for like a month). I love hearing about life with nice gardening… anyway, your cookies look delicious! Coconut and lemon. I love citrus in sweets and this would be a perfect treat for me!

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