Soft Batch Dark Brown Sugar Coconut Oil Cookies
No butter, no white sugar, no complaints.
Just dark and rich cookies so soft that they bend rather than break.
Growing up I loved Soft Batch Cookies. Although there was never a shortage of homemade cookies around, something about those uber-soft storebought cookies, almost flexible and pliable they’re so soft, was something I’d pester my mom to buy.
These cookies are my ode to Soft Batch cookies, using a more robust flavor palette. I love the dark, rich, robust flavors of dark brown sugar and molasses, and pairing them with coconut oil was the best flavor pairing decision I’ve made in ages. But pairing coconut oil with almost anything is a good call.
I tried to convey in the Coconut Oil White Chocolate Cookies recipe that the coconut oil doesn’t make the cookies taste like tanning lotion. In fact, the coconut flavor when baking with coconut oil is much less overt than if using shredded or flaked coconut, which can often be quite powerful and almost off-putting. Instead, I liken coconut oil to amped up, flavored butter. Just as browned butter is an enhanced, tastier version of butter, coconut oil in many ways is the same.
Interestingly, I’ve found when baking with coconut oil that the smell is more pronounced than the actual flavor. Instead, what is pronounced is the richness and deeply satisfying density. The lusciousness of coconut oil on your lips and tongue supercedes the coconut taste. Cookies baked with it have an immense richness that is so luxurious. I don’t bite into them and say oh wow, this tastes like coconut, which is my way of saying if you’re on the fence about coconut in general, to give coconut oil a whirl in baking. You’ll still be able to taste it, but it’s not as powerful as you’d think. Plus, dark brown sugar and molasses are two flavors that can stand up to it.
I’ve been craving molasses cookies and rather than being seasonally inappropriate with a straight up molasses cookie in the almost springtime, I allowed the natural molasses undertones in dark brown sugar to work for me. Dark brown sugar is really just light brown sugar with triple the amount of molasses. Approximately 3 tablespoons molasses to 1 cup granulated sugar in dark brown sugar, versus 1 tablespoon to 1 cup granulated sugar for light brown sugar. Plus, I supplemented the dough with 1 tablespoon molasses, enough to add that extra pop I love.
Please don’t write to tell me that brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added. I’ve been told that about 500 times. I am making a taste claim about dark brown sugar, not a health claim. You cannot get the flavor from white sugar that brown sugar lends.
Make the cookies by combining coconut oil with dark brown sugar, an egg, vanilla and cream the ingredients until they’re soft and fluffy, about five minutes. It’s important to use coconut oil that’s softened to the consistency of softened butter. The same consistency you’d use for creaming butter, sugars, and eggs in traditional cookie dough.
If your coconut oil is rock hard, microwave it in a small bowl for five or ten seconds, or just until it begins to soften. If it’s runny or melted, place it in the freezer momentarily until it firms up. A tiny amount of runniness is fine; it’s an oil and that happens. But do not use melted or purely liquid coconut oil because you can’t effectively cream a liquid; it would be like trying to cream liquid butter. Doesn’t work.
I used 2 tablespoons vanilla, because I love it and this dough is bold and can stand up to it, but if you prefer less, add to taste. I used Homemade Vanilla Extract, full of vanilla bean flecks and specks.
I bake cookies and bread with unsulphered molasses, not blackstrap, which is too bitter for me to enjoy. Even though it’s only a tablespoon, I caution against using it in this recipe unless you prefer a pungent and bitter bite.
And for that reason, I also added cornstarch. Cornstarch is a workhorse and I used it in my favorite chocolate chip cookies. It does the job of both softening and tenderizing dough, and cookies made with it bake up extremely soft. One of the reasons I think the Pudding Cookies craze has taken off is because one of the first ingredients in pudding mix is ‘modified food starches’, code for cornstarch. And cookies made with it are super soft and people love a soft cookie. The same is true of Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies or Mounds Bar Chocolate Coconut Cake Mix Cookies. The cornstarch in the mix helps them bake up so soft that they’re bendy.
The cookie dough will be soft and it’s not sticky or tacky like traditional chocolate chip cookie dough. It reminds me of a peanut butter-based cookie dough because it seems a little on the oily side, thanks to the coconut oil. It has that Play-Doh like consistency and you can pinch it together and it sticks to itself but not to your hands.
I used my medium 2-inch cookie scoop and made 16 mounds, about two heaping tablespoons of dough each. I didn’t flatten them, shape them, or touch them in any way. I let the tops stay ‘feathered’, which is the impression the wire-release mechanism on my cookie scoop makes.
Place the dough mounds on a large plate, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days before baking. The dough is too warm, limp, and soft and is unsuitable for baking until it has been chilled. If you bake with warm, soft, dough your cookies will spread into a big puddle. You don’t want that.
Bake the cookies at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes, but I strongly encourage the lower end of the range. My dough was rock hard coming out of the refrigerator after two days chilling, and I allowed it to sit on baking sheets at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. I baked for 8 minutes, rotating trays midway through. The tops should barely be set, and will be glossy and appear underdone, but they firm up as they cool. Any longer than 10 minutes and you run the risk of the bottoms browning too much and you don’t want Hard Batch Cookies. Everyone’s coconut oil, oven, climate, and personal preferences are different, but they taste best when they’re soft and not overbaked.
The cookies are so very soft and chewy. They bend and flex before they break and crumble. They’re moist and dense without being heavy. The coconut oil, cornstarch, molasses, and dark brown sugar keeps them so soft and and they soft for days. Brown sugar absorbs atmospheric moisture so the cookies actually get softer over time, rather than drying out.
The dark brown sugar and molasses take on caramelized flavors while baking and the depth of flavor created is sublime, especially paired with the coconut oil and abundant vanilla. They have a rustic, earthier, bolder flavor that’s sweet enough, but not too sweet. Serve them with a tall glass of milk if you wish, but two shots of espresso or a glass of red wine are more of what I have in mind.
They’re the best possible cookie combination in the whole family of soft batch-ish and vanilla (Sugar-Doodle Vanilla Cookies), brown sugar (Brown Sugar Maple Cookies), molasses (Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies), and coconut oil (Coconut Oil White Chocolate Cookies) cookies I’ve been creating the past 6 months. I think I just found the holy grail of combinations.
If you like brown sugar, molasses, caramel, vanilla, browned butter, snickerdoodles, or cookies where the focus is on scrumptious cookie dough itself, not on all kinds of add-ins and chocolate chips, these are the cookies for you.
They are insanely good and I have to hide them from myself.
Unfortunately, I know all my own hiding places.
Soft Batch Dark Brown Sugar Coconut Oil Cookies
No butter, no white sugar, no problem. These are some of the softest and most flavorful cookies I’ve had in ages and remind me of Soft Batch Cookies, with a bolder flavor palette. They’re sweetened entirely with dark brown sugar, and because it has a higher concentration of molasses as well as a bit of molasses added to the dough, these cookies are rich, deep and caramely, with molasses undertones. Those ingredients, and the secret ingredient – a bit of cornstarch – help the cookies stay soft for days and they actually get softer over time. The coconut oil flavors the dough very subtly, and although you can ‘taste it’, it’s much milder and more subtle than coconut flakes, for example. If you’ve never tried baking with coconut oil and replacing it one-for-one with butter in cookies, this small batch recipe is a great place to start.
1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (softened to the consistency of soft butter; not rock hard and not runny or melted, see below)
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (yes tablespoons, not teaspoons), or to taste
1 tablespoon unsulphered mild to medium molasses (use very dark or Blackstrap at your own risk because its very pungent and bitter for baking)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine coconut oil, egg, sugar and beat on medium-high speed to cream until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Note – Coconut oil should be the consistency of soft butter like you’d use to cream with sugar and eggs in traditional cookies. If coconut oil is rock hard, microwave it in a small bowl for 5 to 10 seconds or just until it begins to soften. If coconut oil is runny or melted, place it in the freezer momentarily until it firms up. A tiny amount of runniness is fine; it’s an oil and that happens. But do not use melted or purely liquid coconut oil because you can’t effectively cream a liquid; it would be like trying to cream liquid butter.
- Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla, molasses, and beat to incorporate, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour, corn starch, baking soda, optional salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, form mounds that are 2 heaping tablespoons in size; or divide dough into approximately 15 to 16 equal-sized pieces. Place dough mounds on a large plate, and slightly flatten each mound. Very important to get the dough mounds in the exact shape you want to bake them in because after chilling, flattening or re-shaping them is very difficult. Cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours; up to 5 days. Do not bake these cookies with dough that has not been properly chilled because they will spread.
- Preheat oven to 350°F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat, parchment, or spray with cooking spray. Place dough on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart; I bake a maximum of 8 per sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tops have just set, even if slightly undercooked, pale, and glossy in the center. They firm up as they cool and I recommend the lower end of the baking range because they taste best when softer. The cookies in the photos were baked for 8 minutes, with trays rotated once midway through baking.
- Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before moving. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.
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Coconut Oil White Chocolate Cookies – The flavors of coconut and white chocolate are tailor-made for each other in these soft and chewy cookies with vanilla undertones. My first true baked cookie experience with coconut oil and after these, I was hooked
Brown Sugar Maple Cookies – Made with only brown sugar and no white sugar because sometimes darker is the way to go. The cookies have a rich depth flavor with notes of caramel, molasses and the maple pairs perfectly with those flavors
Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies – Soft, tender, yet chewy molasses cookies that are robustly flavored and these cookies fit the bill. They’re very amply flavored with molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Chocolate is used three times- cocoa powder and both chocolate chips and chocolate chunks are used, making these perfect for chocolate lovers and it’s all made in one bowl, no mixer required
Sugar-Doodle Vanilla Cookies – These cookies inspired both today’s recipe and Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies because the dough base is just so scrumptious. There’s nothing fancy in the ingredients, but they combine so wonderfully to produce soft, chewy, and moist cookies with fragrant vanilla notes
Browned Butter Caramel and Butterscotch Bars – Nutty and aromatic browned butter is paired with dark brown sugar, sweet butterscotch chips, and creamy caramel to create a dense, comforting, and rich treat. The bars are moist and packed with an incredible depth of flavor. Between the butterscotch chips and the caramels, there’s plenty of texture in these easy-to-make, buttery bars
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups – If you’ve ever had a problem with cookies spreading while baking, it’s impossible with these because they’re baked in a muffin pan. Between the nuttiness and richness from the browned butter, and brown sugar used in the dough, there’s great flavor depth. They’re dense and rich, with the perfect balance of chewy edges, squishy in the middle, and loaded with melted chocolate
Homemade Vanilla Extract – Make it effortlessly at home for pennies on the dollar and never need storebought again
Coconut and Coconut Oil Recipes – 40+ recipes included that either use coconut oil, coconut milk, or shredded coconut. Everything from knockoff Girl Scout Homemade Samoas Bars that taste like the popular cookies to Coconut Milk Kefir to Roasted Fennel with Coconut Oil
Do you like coconut and coconut oil? Do you bake or cook with it?
Dark brown sugar or molasses fan?
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