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Bolinhas Coconut Cookies

Cook Time:
35 mins
Prep Time:
40 mins
2 dozen cookies

Chef notes

Coconut fans, this cookie is for you. I like these with a cup of hot, sweetened, milky black tea. Bolinhas, as they are called in Goa, India, are crunchy and crisp, sweet and full of coconut goodness.

Technique tip: You may notice that this cookie uses pound cake ratios to come together. I strongly recommend using a brand of desiccated coconut with a strong coconut aroma, or use a good quality coconut extract. I use the fine grade (No. 1) semolina flour; the smaller particle size eliminates the need to soak the cookie batter before baking as is classically done with the coarser variety used in India.


  • 3 cups, plus, 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded desiccated coconut
  • cups, plus, 1 tablespoon fine-grade semolina
  • cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • to 2 teaspoons ground green cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 3 large egg yolks plus the white of one large egg, lightly whisked together
  • All-purpose flour, for shaping the cookies



Place half of the coconut in the bowl of a food processor and grind it into a fine powder. Mix the ground coconut and remaining shredded coconut with the semolina flour in a large mixing bowl.


Prepare a simple syrup by combining 1 cup, plus 2 teaspoons of water, and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the ghee and salt and stir until the fat melts. Remove from the heat, pour the hot liquid over the semolina and coconut, and fold with a spatula until ingredients are evenly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool to room temperature.


Once the semolina mixture is cooled, sprinkle on the cardamom and coconut extract, if using, and fold in to combine. Add the whisked egg yolks and fold into the mixture until combined. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (and up to 8 hours) to let the dough firm up and absorb the flavors.


When ready to bake, take dough out of the fridge and leave it out on the kitchen counter for about 15 minutes, until soft enough to be pliable.


Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


To assemble the cookies, work in batches. Lightly dust hands with a little flour to help prevent the dough from sticking to the surface of your palms. Take about 2 tablespoons of the dough and shape it into a 1-inch round patty.


Evenly space out about 12 patties on each baking sheet. Take the blunt end of a knife and press gently into the dough to make three equally spaced parallel cuts in the center of the cookie patty. The cuts should not be very deep or go all the way across the diameter of the cookie. Rotate the tray and repeat to create three perpendicular cuts, creating a crosshatch pattern.


Bake two sheets at a time for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cookies turn brown on the edges and light golden brown on top. Rotate the sheets halfway through baking. Remove sheets from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.


Repeat with the remaining cookie dough. The cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month in the refrigerator; just remember to bring them to room temperature before serving.