Dulce de Coco Stuffed Snickerdoodles

Dulce de Coco Stuffed Snickerdoodles

To say the least, I was excited. The third Willow Bird Baking challenge required participants baked a filled cookie. Any cookie. Any filling. Did I mention I was excited?

I love stuffed foods. My favorite donuts, long johns or filled sticks depending on where you live, are stuffed with pastry cream. When I was a kid, I lived for those powdery squares of gum filled with flavored syrup. (To be fair, I think the kid-version of myself  just plain lived for gum.) My favorite pasta is ravioli because, naturally, those little pasta pillows can be stuffed with all sorts of deliciousness.

I did a series on stuffed foods last November, and I am planning to start round two in a couple of weeks. Although one of my stuffed recipes is now effectively down the tubes – pumpkin cheesecake stuffed snickerdoodles – that is okay! I made these cookies right around this time last fall, and they were delicious. I think I had them in the back of my mind when I recently made cream cheese stuffed chocolate cherry lambic cookies.

This time around, I considered an apple cookie stuffed with a caramel and a chocolate-stuffed banana cookie. Then I flipped through a mounting pile of recipes to try, and I found one for Dulce de Coco. Done.

Since I have no problems whatsoever with Snickerdoodles, I opted to keep it simple and bake those. I typically use a recipe from Mrs. Fields Best Cookie Book Ever! , but this time I used the recipe found on Willow Bird Baking. It calls for powdered sugar, which I had never before used in a dough and found very interesting. The cookies bake up soft and light, which I also like.

Dulce de Coco Stuffed Snickerdoodles

Now for a word on the filling portion of this recipe. I noted this in the recipe below, but the Dulce de Coco will not fully freeze. Therefore, it is imperative to take the time to fully chill the dough and filling. This will save you much grief as the chilled cookie dough will hold its shape much better and not end up in a puddly mess on the baking sheet. Regardless, you may end up with a few leaky cookies as I did, and that is okay. They are still delicious.

Because I was not sure how the plain Dulce de Coco filled cookies would turn out, I also mixed some of the filling with cream cheese. That mixture did freeze all the way.

I liked the cookies filled only with Dulce de Coco a bit better, simply because the taste of the filling was more prominent throughout the cookie. The cream cheese and Dulce de Coco mixture made it more obvious the cookie was filled, whereas the Dulce de Coco alone just sort of absorbed throughout the cookies. If stuffing cookies seems like a pain, a thumbprint cookie filled with Dulce de Coco is a delicious option. It did not occur to me to try this until I was literally down to my last ball of dough, so I have no photos to share of that lone cookie.

If you are not a coconut fan, you may want to try homemade dulce de leche instead. The King Arthur Flour blog has a nice post on caramel stuffed snickerdoodles, complete with photos on the stuffing process, that should help get you started. Enjoy!

Dulce de Coco Stuffed Snickerdoodles

Dulce de Coco stuffed Snickerdoodles
  • For the Dulce de Coco
  • 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the Snickerdoodles
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • For Coating the Cookies
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  1. To make the Dulce de Coco filling, combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover the saucepan, and allow the mixture to continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, uncover, and allow to continue to simmer for 35-40 additional minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. When the mixture is thickened, stir in the vanilla (like when making caramels, this step causes the mixture to bubble up, so exercise caution to avoid burns).
  5. Pour into a glass jar and allow to come to room temperature before securing the lid.
  6. Place in the freezer for use in stuffing cookies.
  7. To make the Snickerdoodles, combine the butter, vegetable oil, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and eggs in a large bowl.
  8. Start the mixer and allow the dough to come together as you prepare the dry ingredients.
  9. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  10. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 to 4 additions, mixing until just combined between each.
  11. Place the finished dough in the refrigerator to chill (overnight if possible).
  12. After the cookie dough and the filling is fully chilled, whisk together the ½ cup granulated sugar and one tablespoon cinnamon in a small bowl.
  13. Gather a portion of chilled cookie dough for one cookie (I used an ice cream scoop here), and use your thumb, a teaspoon, or a small melon baller (I used all three here with no preference) to make a hollow in the dough.
  14. Fill the hollow with the Dulce do Coco, then cover with a bit of dough.
  15. Work the dough around the whole ball, being sure to pinch together any cracks.
  16. Roll the dough ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place in the freezer while you prepare the remaining cookies.
  17. Repeat the forming and filling steps until all dough is formed and in the freezer.
  18. Place the frozen dough balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 4 inches between each.
  19. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are slightly browned.
  20. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
For an alternative filling, simply mix some Dulce de Coco with cream cheese and place in the freezer to harden. When frozen, simply pop a ball of this mixture into each chilled portion of cookie dough and bake. The ratio I used was ¼ cup Dulce de Coco to 5 ounces of cream cheese.

The Dulce de Coco by itself will not fully freeze. It will be soft and caramel-like at best.

When baking stuffed cookies, I cannot stress enough the importance of working with fully chilled dough and fillings.

Pear and Feta Pastry Braid

Honey Pear & Feta Braid

The second Willow Bird Baking Challenge required bakers fill a pastry braid with any filling that met their heart’s desire. I had been thinking about whipping up some baked pears like those I made in the past, so I figured, why not just put them into a braid?

There is something about a fruit and cheese combination – in this case pears and Feta – that to me never seems to get old. Another of my favorites is apple and cheddar. Tart Granny Smith apples, creamy brie cheese, and sweet cherry preserves are another favorite combo, and I think either would make an equally delicious braid.

I thought of so many filling possibilities I wanted to try in this challenge that I felt a bit like a cop-out trying something I knew would work based on past experience. I initially thought of making some sort of banoffe pie concoction. I also considered adding some cocoa power to the dough to create a chocolate braid, filing it with bananas and marshmallows.

Thinking of chocolate dough led me down the path of wanting use cherry pie filling. After that, I naturally began to wonder if pudding would not make for a delicious filling as well. What I am trying to communicate is there are seemingly infinite possibilities for this braid. When a recipe is as flexible as its fillings, what’s not to like?

If this is your first time baking a braid, as it was mine, the step-by-step pictures in the original recipe post show how to cut and fold the dough. The assembled braid can be refrigerated and baked the next day, so it is great to pull together the night before a brunch. Keep in mind the dough does not make an overly large pastry –  the 8 x 12 dimensions are just slightly larger than a sheet of notebook paper – so you may want to bake two braids if you expect a crowd.

See all of the wonderful concoctions baking challenge participants created here. The savory options bakers came up with were amazing! The sweet recipes looked pretty good too. Enjoy!

Honey Pear & Feta Braid
  • For the Dough
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (additional may be needed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup milk, minus ½ teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • For the Filling
  • ½ medium-sized pear, sliced very thin
  • 2 tablespoons honey, plus additional for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese, plus additional for topping
  • For the Icing
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add the butter and cream cheese into the flour mixture and pulse to cut the butter into the flour.
  3. Add the milk and the lemon extract and blend into a loose dough.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead VERY LIGHTLY for 4-5 strokes. Add flour as needed to make sure the dough is not too sticky to roll out. The goal is to simply gather the dough together. It does not need to be smooth, and likely will look a bit rough.That is okay.
  5. Between two sheets of waxed paper, roll the dough out to an 8- by 12-inch rectangle. Next, turn the dough out onto a lightly greased baking sheet and remove the waxed paper.
  6. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds.
  7. In a clean bowl, mix together the honey, lemon juice, cinnamon, and ginger.
  8. Toss the sliced pears in this mixture until well coated.
  9. Lay the pear slices down the middle third of the dough, keeping them about ½ inch from the mark on both sides.
  10. Sprinkle the feta over the pears once layered across the dough.
  11. Make 2¾-inch slight diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each the long sides. Do not cut into the pear-and-cheese-filled center area.
  12. Fold strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side, in a rotating fashion over the filling.
  13. The dough should now resemble a braid.
  14. Bake in a 425° F oven for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the top is lightly browned. About a minute before taking the pastry out of the oven, sprinkle additional feta over the top if desired and return to the oven.
  15. When the braid comes out of the oven, drizzle with honey.
  16. While the braid cools, combine the powered sugar, milk, and lemon extract.
  17. Drizzle over the top of the braid and enjoy. Best when served warm.
Note from Julie at Willow Bird Baking: To prepare this braid in advance, complete all steps and assemble the braid but do not bake. Cover the braid on its parchment-lined baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Set out in the morning as you preheat the oven and then bake as usual.



Spiced Orange Cranberry Morning Rolls

Cranberry Orange Rolls

Over the next few weeks, I will be participating in a series of Willow Bird Baking Challenges. Challenge 1: Morning rolls filled with cinnamon or any flavor combination of our choice. My choice: spiced orange and cranberry.

As I prepared for this challenge, I watched the Chow Obsessives marmalade video. Near the end, featured marmalade maker June Taylor remarked she craved precision when she first started preparing jam. She wanted to know exact measurements, “not this go by sight and feel” nonsense. But she learned that it really did take time to learn all there was to know.

I think baking gets an unfair reputation based on this same premise. Known as the precise sibling to the happy-go-lucky cooking, people shy away from baking before they give it a fair chance. Am I suggesting we all just throw in a pinch of baking powder and a dash of baking soda in lieu of measuring out teaspoons? No. But I am  suggesting we all give baking our best effort.

Case in point, I had no idea how these rolls would turn out. Are they perfect? Not by a long shot. Do I now have knowledge I can rely on the next time I try a similar recipe? You bet.I hesitated with the dough and made small rolls instead of the more traditional, large rolls. I also noticed the jam wanted to squish out when rolling the dough. Using a thickener like King Arthur Flour’s Instant Clearjel probably would have been a wise choice.

Be sure to click on over to Willow Bird Baking to check out all of the lovely rolls created by challenge participants. It is not to late to join in the fun should you be so inclined!

Spiced Orange and Cranberry Rolls
  • For the Rolls
  • 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm (not hot) water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 cups milk minus 2 tablespoons, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup cold shortening (butter flavored Crisco works well)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, for after baking
  • For the Filling
  • 2 cups high-quality orange jam or marmalade
  • 1½ cup (3 sticks) butter, melted
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • For the Glaze
  • 1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk to thin the glaze to a drizzling consistency
  1. Mix the warm water and yeast in a medium bowl and let the yeast foam for about 10 minutes.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a measuring cup and then add milk up to the 2 cup line. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl (or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook), whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. Cut the shortening into the mixture using a pair of forks or a pastry cutter until the shortening looks like small peas.
  5. Stir the yeast mixture and the milk mixture into the dry ingredients.
  6. Mix well, but knead the dough for only a few turns to fully incorporate.
  7. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator overnight.
  8. The next morning, turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle about ⅛-inch thick. Cutting the dough in half to work with just half at one time makes this step much more manageable.
  9. Stir together the orange jam, melted butter, sugar and cardamom.
  10. Spread this mixture over the top of the dough. (If you halved the dough, remember to reserve half of this mixture for the second batch.)
  11. Sprinkle the chopped cranberries over the top of the the filling mixture.
  12. Lightly spray two 9 x 13-inch baking dishes with cooking spray.
  13. Gently roll the dough into a spiral and cut it into rolls, placing them close together in the prepared baking dishes. (This is where you may wish to wrap and freeze - see Notes).
  14. Cover the rolls you wish to bake with a piece of plastic wrap or clean dish cloth and allow them to rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled, about 1½ – 2 hours.
  15. Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  16. Bake the rolls for about 15-20 minutes or until browned on top.
  17. Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter and return to the oven for 1 additional minute.
  18. Whisk together the glaze ingredients (adding milk to get it to drizzling consistency) and drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls. If you want the glaze to harden rather than sink in, allow the rolls to cool nearly to warm temperature.
Note from Julie at WillowBird: I don’t recommend halving yeast recipes; instead, if you don’t want 24 rolls at once, consider freezing some for later. To freeze some of the unbaked rolls, just wrap them well before the second rise and freeze them. Once frozen, pop them out of the pan all together and store in the freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap and in a zip top bag or wrapped in foil. When you want to bake them, stick them back in a greased pan, thaw them in the fridge overnight, proof for the instructed amount of time, and bake like usual.