Coconut Shortbread Cookies with Creamy Butter Frosting
To store the cookies, stack undecorated ones in an airtight plastic or metal container and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. Place decorated cookies in a single layer in a covered foil-lined cardboard container, such as a cake box, and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
For the cookies:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened medium-shred coconut
- 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 20 Tbs. (2 1/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter,
cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Decorative sugars and icing pens
For the frosting:
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 to 4 drops food coloring
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Divide the dough in half and place each half between 2 large sheets of waxed paper. Roll out each portion to form a 10-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Keeping the rounds between the waxed paper, stack them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days; or freeze, well wrapped, up to 1 month.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325ºF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with 1 round of dough at a time, peel off the top sheet of waxed paper, replace it loosely on top and flip the dough over. Peel off and discard the second sheet of paper.
Using assorted cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place them about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps and refrigerate. (If desired, decorate the cookies with the decorative sugars prior to baking. Otherwise, bake the cookies unadorned, then frost and decorate them after they have cooled.)
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until they are no longer shiny, are just ivory colored and feel slightly firm to the touch, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough and scraps.
To make the frosting, in a mixing bowl,using an electric mixer, beat the butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and blended. Stir in 1 drop of food coloring at a time until the desired shade is reached.
To decorate the cookies, spread the frosting over the top of a cookie and decorate with the sugars and icing pens.
To make cookie sandwiches, choose 2 identically shaped cookies and spread 1 to 2 Tbs. frosting evenly over one of the cookies. Center the other cookie on the frosted one and gently press together. Decorate the top cookie with frosting, sugars and icing pens.