The Daring Bakers #24 Indian bolinhas de coco (Cardamom Flavored Coconut Cookies)...

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

Second part of the Daring Baker's challenge this month - part one with the Mawa cake can be found HERE. I decided to divide the post as it would be an awful long one.... ;) Back to the merit tho - I made those cookies with my lil sous chef J - she enjoyed making little balls and flattening them out on the baking tray (when they didn't look like circles at all - but that's part of the fun!). The only problem then was that they were completely different sizes and baked very uneven, some burning completely... Cookies were easy to make, not a lot of work, but a lot of waiting, so it's best to make the dough the night before. everyone loved those little coconut treats - this one is definitely a keeper! :)

How to make it...

- 2 cups (150 g) fresh grated coconut, packed
- 1 1/2 cups (250 g) semolina
- 1 1/4 cups (250 gm) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water (180ml)water
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) ghee (clarified butter) or melted unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 8 to 10 pods cardamom, powdered (about 1 1/2 teaspoon)

Run the grated coconut in your processor or the small jar of your blender a couple of times so that the flakes are smaller and uniform in texture. Do not grind into a paste. Keep aside.
Put the semolina in a pan and toast/ roast it, over low to medium heat, until it starts giving off an aroma, and looks like it’s about to start changing colour. This should take a couple of minutes. Do not brown. Transfer the semolina into a bowl and keep aside. In the same pan, pour the water and add the sugar to it. Place it on medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Once the sugar has dissolved, keep stirring the solution and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. The sugar solution should just begin to start forming a syrup but is still watery. Do not cook until it forms a thick syrup. Add the toasted/ roasted semolina and mix well. Then add the coconut, salt and ghee (or melted butter) and mix well. Put the pan back on the stove, and over medium heat stir the coconut mixture until it is really hot and easily forms a thick clump. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and let the semolina coconut mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer this into a bowl or container, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, ideally overnight. For really fluffy biscuits/ cookies, the overnight rest is recommended.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Separate the yolks from the egg whites. Lightly beat the yolks with a fork to break them and add to the dough. Also add the powdered cardamom and mix well with a wooden spoon or fork.
Whisk the egg whites by hand until frothy and add to the dough. Mix well till incorporated.
You will now have a slightly moist and sticky dough. Refrigerate this dough for about half an hour so it firms up a bit.
Pre-heat your oven to moderate 180°C. Line your baking trays with parchment or grease them well with some ghee or melted butter. Take the dough out and pinch off walnut sized bits of dough. The dough should be firm enough to handle without difficulty. If the dough is sticking to your palms, lightly dust your palms with flour before shaping the dough. Roll the bits of dough into balls and then flatten them very slightly. Decorate the top by marking criss-crosses (3 equidistant lines one way and another 3 crossing them at right angles), with a table knife. Press down a bit but not too deep or right through the biscuit/ cookie. Use up all the dough this way.
Place the shaped dough on the baking trays leaving a little space between them. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until they’re a golden brown and done. Let them cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Store the biscuits/ cookies in airtight containers. This recipe makes about 4 dozen Bolinhas de Coco.