I hope I know a little about being Asian by now, especially if we're talking about the food. Mmmm, the food! But we'll get to that part in a little bit.
I can't say I grew up "in the kitchen" like some of the most talented cooks we know today. That is, unless you count opening the fridge every half-hour to look for a stale sandwich, apple juice, and then some cake which added to my "plumpness" as a child, then yes. I did grow up in the kitchen.
Other than that, I sometimes got to help mom chop vegetables verrrryyy slowly as I ooh'd and aahh'd at her envious Food Network worthy chopping skills. Thankfully though, I've lived half of my life in So Cal, which only happens to be one of the greatest foodie capitals in the US, and that means I can Yelp just about any cuisine and within a matter of 20 minutes, boom. I'm there. Little Tokyo LA is home to the most unforgettable, creamy udon-making little hole in the wall restaurant for example, which I can't wait to introduce to my friend Sarah before she becomes a mommy in less than 2 months!
Norcal isn't terrible either, you guys. Okay, it's beyond awesome! I'm still shocked I got to try Himalayan/Nepalese food during my bachelorette trip 3 years ago (by the way, many prayers for the beautiful Nepalese souls). And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Because even though I feast on Filipino food almost every Sunday at church, I still gravitate towards Asian flavors. You'd think the opposite would be the case, but lately all I want is to incorporate ingredients like green tea, taro, and coconut cream even in my baked goods.
These cookies perfectly describe what I was aiming for. They have a slight hint of coconut very much different from say, American macaroons. Coconut cream powder isn't the same thing as coconut flour. It's nothing like coconut flakes either, and it's definitely a far cry from canned coconut cream. It's more like the "what is it" flavor in Taiwanese yeast breads, and that sweetly mysterious "I have no idea how they make it so yummy and thick" factor in Thom Kar Kai soup.
These delicate tea cookies are like shortbread but less greasy. Keep in mind that the coconut isn't overpowering, making these a delightful pairing for a relaxing afternoon tea, even for those who can't handle the texture of coconut--like my husband who finished off half of it.
The Chao Thai brand seems to be the most popular brand and it's found in most Asian stores like Seafood City. My guess is that you can find it at most Asian markets except Korean and Japanese since coconut isn't a staple ingredient for the latter two. One thing I strongly suggest is freezing the dough for 45-60 minutes prior to baking. This will aid in keeping its shape. I ran out of time and took them out of the freezer way too early, making these look like drop cookies instead of shortbread. In the photos below, I'm rolling the white dough around the chocolate one but I highly suggest reversing the order as they might end up looking a little inappropriate, if you know what I mean! I didn't realize that until after I was done with the photo shoot. ;)
Coconut Cream Powder Tea Cookies
Makes approximately 18 cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
6 tbsp coconut cream powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tbsp room temperature butter
3/4 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix the all purpose flour, wheat flour, coconut cream powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate this dry mixture into half and in two separate bowls so we can add cocoa powder to the other half. Now add the cocoa powder into one bowl and stir thoroughly.
In a stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment (or a beater and a separate bowl), cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until well incorporated. Add half of this butter mixture into the bowl for the white cookie dough. Add the second half into the bowl with chocolate dough. Mix both thoroughly and seal with plastic wrap. Freeze for about 30 minutes.
Roll out the white dough into a log of about 10 inches long on a lightly floured surface. Then roll out the chocolate dough into a rectangle large enough just to cover the white dough. Encase the chocolate mixture around the circumference of the white dough so it becomes a log. Seal with wrap and freeze for 45 minutes.
Cut the log in 1 inch segments so you end up with about 18-20 cookies. Place about 2 inches apart from each other on a lined cookie sheet and bake for approximately 18-22 minutes, or golden on top and bottom. Let them cool as they will set into a crisp, but soft short bread consistency.
I'm curious to know! Is there a wide variety of ethnic cuisines where you live?