Coconuttiest Shortbread Cookies

I love to use unconventional flour in traditional recipes. What could be better than a naturally flavored cookie? Throw away some of those artificial flavors and opt for natural ingredients, like this soft, nutty and flavorful flour made of the dried hull of coconuts. Add some fragrant coconut oil, and  you’ll be amazed how delicious and coconutty! these cookies taste.

Followers of my blog know that I adore cookie stamps— these shortbread take to stamping pretty well if they are chilled properly. You can leave the cookies natural, like I have below. You can feel and see more of the natural texture from the coconut flour. They have a less refined look, but that can be lovely, too.

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Coconut Flour
1/4 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup High-Fat Butter (Plugra, KerryGold etc), room temperature
1/2 cup Coconut Oil, room temperature
1/2 cup Evaporated Cane Juice
2 Egg Yolks

(1) In a small bowl, sift all of the dry ingredients together. Discard any hard bits or clumps. Set aside.
(2) Combine the butter and coconut oil in the bowl of stand mixer. Cream on medium speed for two to three minutes, until the two butters are combined. Scrape the bowl down, and beat for another minute.
(3) With the mixture still running on medium, add the sugar in a slow stream. Beat for another two minutes, then scrape down the bowl. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping the bowl between each addition. Beat for another two minutes, until the mixture looks white and satiny.
(4) Add the flour all at once. Cover the mixer head and bowl with a large tea towel. Hold the towel in place while pulsing the mixer on medium for 30 seconds. Peak under the towel–cookie dough curds should have formed. If so, shake out the excess flour from the towel into the bowl and mix for another 15-20 seconds until just incorporated. If not, mix for another 30 seconds, with the towel in place, then proceed.
(5) Scrape out the bowl and form two balls of dough. If you want to make shortbread coins, roll the two balls into snakes and chill for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours. If you want to stamp the cookies, as I have, place a large piece of plastic wrap on top of the mound of dough and one beneath the dough ball. Roll the dough balls into disks about 3/4″ thick. Chill.
(6) When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. If making coins, cut them about 1/2″ thick. If stamping, cut the dough using a cutter that is the same size/shape as your cookie stamps. I like the small 3/4″ round size, the same size as my stamps. Cut the cookies, and then dust with sanding sugar or finely ground evaporated cane juice. Use your fore finger and thumb to hold the dough in place, while stamping with the other hand. After stamping, I like to go back around with the cookie cutter so that my cookies are perfectly round and uniform.
(7)Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating half-way in between. My oven runs cool, so I tend to bake for the full 16 minutes.

Read more about my recipe on Food52.


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Buttermilk Sugar Cookies

There are sometimes when chocolate won’t do.  For those days (I like to call them my vanilla days), this soft, simple sugar cookie is the ticket.

© Hilary Browning 2013

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 c granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 teaspoons cultured buttermilk

demerara sugar, for coating

(1) Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

(2) Cream the butter and the sugar on medium speed, until velvety. 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.

(3) Add the egg on low speed. Scrape down the bowl and increase to medium. When the mixture resembles pudding, add the vanilla extract.

(4) Add in the flour, all at once. Beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 2-3 minutes.

(5) Add in the buttermilk, until the dough is soft, but not wet.

(6) Using a dough scoop, make round tablespoon dough balls. Roll in demerara sugar. Flatten the dough balls slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet at the half way mark.

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Pumpkin Chai Scones

This morning I was on the set of the new lifestyle program, Living Dayton on WDTN. I developed this recipe as a parsed down version of the scones I sell at the 2ndStreet Market. Enjoy!

Hilary on Living Dayton, August 27 2012

Pumpkin Chai Scones

© Hilary Browning 2012

For the Pumpkin Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour (I recommend King Arthur Flour brand)

¼ c granulated sugar

1 tablespoon Aluminum Free Baking Powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

6 tablespoons butter, cubed

½ cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup half and half (whole milk will work, half and half is better)

1 large egg

For the Chai Drizzle:

4 tablespoons whole milk

1 bag of chai tea

1 cup powdered sugar


(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt and spices in the bowl of an electric mixer.

(2) While the mixer is off, add the cubed butter. Cover the mixer with a tea towel, and pulse on medium speed, 3 or 4 times, for 30 seconds each time. The mixture should have the texture of gravel or very small peas.

(3) In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, half and half and egg. Whisk together. Add half of the wet mixture to the dry. Turn the mixer on and mix until larger clumps form. Add the rest of the wet ingredients. The dough will make one large clump.

(4) Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Using your hands, form the dough into a circle, about 6” in diameter. Using a knife or a pie cutter, divide the dough into 8 triangles.

(5) Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a Silpat. Line the scones onto the parchment, and place the scone dough in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or up to two months!

(6) When you are ready to bake, bake the frozen dough for 15 minutes in a 425 oven. Do not defrost- just pop them straight from the freezer to the oven.

(7) To make the drizzle: Heat the milk with the chai tea bag in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Alternately, you can heat the milk in a saucepan. Watch it carefully- it can bubble up. Allow it to steep for five minutes. Squeeze out the tea bag; you should be left with about 2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk the milk into the powdered sugar; drizzle over scones.


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We’ve had a great week here at Thistle. Yesterday, we reached 500 fans on Facebook! woohoo! Last week, we did the best we’ve ever done at our Saturday 2nd Street market booth.


This month, we are also participating in The Vegan Challenge Dayton.  So we’ve got a little promo for them, Buy One Get One of our Oatmeal Cream Pies or a Dozen Mexican Hot Chocolate Drops for $8.

We’ve supported 9 charities in the last three months, giving out our baking to these amazing projects:  The Fifth Street Brew Pub Coop, the Humane Society of Greater Dayton and The Celtic Academy of Dayton.
But most of all we’ve learned that Daytonians really love whoopie pies!

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August 7, 2012 · 9:08 am

Sinh To Bo: Avocado Pudding Redux

About this time last year, I posted about avocado pudding. There is nothing deficient about my old recipe, except that it isn’t as delicious as this one. That being said, old recipe has a bit more health virtue than this one. This is definitely a dessert. A rich, creamy dessert made from a vegetable. With no hint of guacamole taste, I promise

Sweetened condensed milk makes this pudding absolute magic, and as it turns out, even better in popsicle form. My friend HaQuyen casually mentioned that her mom fed her a dessert made of avocado and sweetened condensed milk. I scoured the internet for such mythical dessert, and found nothing super useful using “sweetened condensed milk” and “avocado” as search terms. But at the bottom of the fourth or fifth page, I found a better search term. Sinh To Bo. A Vietnamese Avocado Smoothie. I hacked away at the recipes I found, which is my usual modus operandi, and came to a beautiful point somewhere between mousse, pudding, and smoothie. Serve room temperature or cold, or frozen; it’s always delightful.

Sinh To Bo with Tropical Fruit

© Hilary Browning 2012

Serves 2; Double up for more portions or to make 6 popsicles


For the Pudding:

2 Avocados

1 Orange, Juiced

1/2 cup Coconut Milk

1/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk


For the Tropical Fruit:

1 Mango, Diced

1 Kiwi, skinned and sliced

1 banana, sliced

1 teaspoon, lime zest


(1) Combine the avocado meat, coconut milk, orange juice, and sweetened condensed milk in a blender. Blend until very smooth and there are no visible lumps.

(2) Combine the fruit and lime zest in a separate bowl.

(3) For Puddings: Divide the avocado pudding into two ramekins. Top with the fruit.

(4) For Popsicles: Gently Fold the fruit into the pudding. Spoon into six small popsicle molds. I use a stainless steel six pop mold; a four piece popsicle mold will work too, you’ll get four larger pops instead of six smaller ones. Freeze for at least four hours before serving.


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Citrusy Mango Preserves

I’m a little obsessed with jamming. Early spring in Ohio is terribly depressing for me, full of hope for jamming, but no local fruit to be found for my jamming endeavors. A 10 for 10 sale on mangoes prompted me to get a little creative last year- and this remains one of my all-time favorite recipes that I’ve ever written. The mango butter retains a juicy, tangy taste bursting with citrus and mango goodness. We had this preserve on the menu at Thistle until we moved to the PNC 2nd Street Market. Now we use this butter as one of the fillings for our Mango & Lime Layer Cake.  Sandwiched in between layers of yellow cake and frosted with a soft, fluffy lime Swiss Meringue. It’s heavenly, I think.

. Feel free to contact us about said Mango & Lime Layer Cake using our “Shop Thistle Confections” button. Mother’s Day is next Sunday you know! Not a subliminal message at all.

Citrusy Mango Butter

(Copyright Hilary Browning, 2012)

2 lbs chopped mangoes, about six whole mangoes.

8 whole cardamom pods

1/4 cup  fresh lime juice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

3 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar (I like to use fine evaporated cane juice)

(1) Prepare a water bath, and ready (and sterilize) six jars, lids, and rings (or use Weck rubber seals). Sterilize any other equipment you plan to use- like funnel, measuring cup, stirring spoon, etc. Place a small plate in the freezer.

(2) Combine the chopped mangoes, cardamom pods, and citrus juice in a wide, non-reactive pot (like a copper pot or enamelware dutch oven). Bring the liquid to a simmer on medium heat and cook for about 25-30 minutes, until there is very little liquid left in the pot.

(3)Remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to remove the cardamom pod. Using a stick blender (or a food processor), puree until there are no visible chunks.

(4)Combine the puree and the granulated sugar. Cook on medium low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved (this will take 10-15 minutes). Increase heat to medium, and simmer gently for another 20-25 minutes, until thickened. Place a dollop of jam on the frozen plate- if it retains its shape and does not weep or run, it is ready.

(5)Ladle into sterilize jars. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Turn off heat and allow jars to sit in the hot water for an addition 5 minutes. Allow jars to sit over night before testing their seals. Processed jam will keep for about 6 months.

Beautiful pictures courtesy of the lovely & talented Nicole Hodac.


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Vegan Soft Sugar Cookies

I bake a lot of vegan baked goods for Thistle’s bakeshop.  I’m asked a lot about vegan baking substitutions, particularly egg substitutes. I thought I’d share a very simple recipe for vegan sugar cookies, one that we use in the bakery often. I’ve shared this recipe with customers who have asked for help and with Food52 hotliners in need. It only seems fair that I should pass it along to you.

Vegan Sugar Cookies with Coconut Buttercream Rosettes.

Let me preface this recipe: you cannot always make a substitution. There are some baked goods- like French Madeleines or meringue cookies that rely too heavily on eggs to make a proper substitute. You can certainly make a beautiful pastry in the shape of a madelieine, but it is nigh impossible to achieve the light, fluffy texture without eggs and butter. Eggs are somewhat magical in baking. They can function as a liquid, a fat, a binder and even sometimes as a substitute for flour. To replace eggs, I often use a combination of hot water and ground flax seeds. Like eggs, flax seeds also contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids. They also get nice and goopy when mixed with hot water, a desirable reaction when looking for an egg substitute. Fruit puree will work in some instances, as will a combination of fruit puree and flax or fruit puree and maple syrup.  Some also recommend a combination of water, ground flax and nut butter.  In these cookies, I have stuck with flax, as it does not interfere with the taste of the cookie in anyway.

Vegan Soft Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup shortening, all-vegtetable, non-hydrogenated. I use spectrum brand. You can use either the “buttery” shortening or the unflavored. I tend to use unflavored, as I find the buttery a bit salty.

2/3 cup room temp Vegan Baking sticks, get Earth Balance

1 1/2 cups evaporated cane juice

3 tbspn very hot water

2 teaspoon ground golden flax seed*

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4  teaspoon salt

3 1/3 cups AP flour

In a small bowl, combine the water, flax seeds, and vanilla. Allow to sit while you are assembling the rest of the ingredients.

Cream the shortening, sugar and the vegan sticks together in an electric mixer on medium speed. I’d cream for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is very fluffy and the sugar granules are no longer visible. Add in the water & flax seed mixture. Cream until combined. It will looked curdled, that is ok.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt together. Turn the mixer off, and  add the dry ingredients to the wet all at once. Mix on low speed until it starts to form clumps and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Do not mix beyond this point.

Shape into balls and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 for drop cookies. For roll out, refrigerate for at least four hours. Work quickly while rolling, the dough will become very sticky, very quickly. Depending on size of the roll out, bake for 6-8 minutes at 350.

*This will affect the color of the cookies a little, which is why I recommend golden flax over chia seeds or brown flax. I always ice the cookies, to enhance their appearance. Either with a simple glaze, or with vegan buttercream.


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