Coming to America & Coconut Jam Drops

So I teased you in my last post about ‘Coming to America’. Its all part of my bubbling excitement because the fartherest west I’ve been is Barbados – I know, its not a bad bookend. Now, I am glad, just like Eddie Murphy was in his film version ‘Coming to America’.
IMG_3825Its not as though I haven’t wanted to visit, its just that somehow, it hasn’t been the right time and now, all of a sudden it is. And no, we’re not moving, I’m presenting some of my work at a conference in Houston and I’ll be back in the Netherlands in a week. A short time to fly across the world but long enough for many dreams to come true. Walmart. Target. Wholefoods. Shopping malls. 7 lane highways. Sunshine and warmth. William Sonoma. TJ Maxx. Bath & Bodyworks. Children’s Place. Gap…even…..maybe. Who knows? And all of this in the 2 and a half days there is to shop before the conference.

IMG_3830Rejoice and celebrate with me my friends, my horizons are expanding, my mind afloat. And to compensate, I’m travelling back in time with some of my childhood favourites, coconut jam drops. When we were growing up, my mum would order cookies from a friend of hers. When the bags of crisp coconutty goodies would arrive, they would be bagged in small portions, sealed to deny greedy hands access till the timing was right.

With the patience of children who have peeked at Christmas gifts on the eve of the momentous day, we would wait, questioning, hounding, begging and being on best behavior till she relented and let us have some. My sisters and I would dash off, bag in hand, and proceed to chomp our way through crisp yet crumbly, sweet yet not sugary cookies. The shredded coconut wasn’t fine, rather coarse, held together with flour but yet extremely coconutty, and at the centre there would be jam. Delicious strawberry jam that had changed character and turned to jelly. Those were the best every coconut jam drops.

So this week, when my daughters had to bring ‘treats’ to school in celebration of International day, I thought of making coconut candy – a popular Nigerian snack of caramelized grated coconut. When I realized I wouldn’t be able to make it to the shops to get a bag of freshly grated kokos, my mind went on a long walk and came back with coconut jam drops.

A short jaunt to Australia and a recipe was in hand. And not a bad one for recreating childhood recipes. Still some tweaking to be had – less eggs, more coconut, preferably fresh, coarsely grated flakes, which are then baked in the oven  before being incorporated in the dough. But overall, very nice.

Coconut Jam Drops, adapted from Western Star Butter

Baking Time: 15 Minutes; Makes about 20

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, extra for coating
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry jam

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy, add egg and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy, turn speed to low and add sifted flour, baking powder and 1/2 cup coconut, beat until just combined into a soft dough.

IMG_3787 IMG_3790

Drop teaspoonfuls of biscuit mixture into extra coconut and roll to coat, remove and roll into balls.


Arrange balls on a baking paper lined tray allowing 5cm for spreading between each biscuit.


Take the back of a wooden spoon and make a dent in the top of each ball.


Then fill dents with a little jam taking care not to overfill. (Did I listen? No)

Bake biscuits at 170°C for 15 minutes until pale golden. Remove and cool on tray for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.IMG_3824


My US shopping list as at today looks something like this:

  • Kosher salt, ‘cause I’ve never seen it
  • Vital wheat gluten, for making wholegrain breads
  • Meyer lemons, I’ve heard too much about Meyer lemons to not even give them a try!
  • Key limes – ditto, as for Meyer lemons
  • S’Mores kit – chocolate, marshmallows, graham crackers
  • Jolly Ranchers – daughters love it. Friend recommended it too
  • Barley Malt syrup, cause I saw it in this recipe
  • High-heeled shoes for my 7 year old, she moans’ I’m the only girl in my c lass who doesn’t have high heeels’. Peer pressure. And when I say heels, these are 1cm , ok maybe 2 or 3 cm thick wedges, not pointy ones. Oh, the fashion sense of Grade 2ers. Then I take her to school and ask the other girls, it turns out they were not being exactly truthful….but by then of course, she’s made up her mind. She’s having heels.

I already have vanilla pods, numerous cooking books, a nice wilton 3 tier baking pan and ateco food gels as well as Ziplocs waiting for me at my friends.

Remember when I won the food52 contest back in July with my suya recipe, well I received a box of goodies from OXO – patiently waiting for me in Houston and a $100 gift card from Wholefoods to spend in the US or Canada so I have a kickstart with my pocket money.

Any other things I should add to the list, along with things to sample – Tex Mex, Steaks etc? Please let me know.

Stay well and see y’all soon. Have a great weekend too.[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Coming to America & Coconut Jam Drops – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]


  1. Thanks for all your comments, suggestions and tips. I’m back……..weary, not feeling too well but happy for the ‘calibration’ of seeing America with my own two eyes. Now when I watch movies, I can relate to the road signs and concrete highways. LOL

  2. We have made similar cookies here for all three hundred years we’ve been here… every year at Christmas. They are definitely one of the fav’s on the goodie tray, but more often rolled in nuts than coconut… and a little different recipe!
    1. Wild Rice (not really a rice – but only in Canada) is it so flavourful and lovely when mixed with a rice or own it’s own. Nutty and chewy. YUM!
    2. Frozen Saskatoon berries, if you can source any to get to you – or just get the jam or some pie filling. However, the berry is really the only way to go. Completely unique and absolutely delicious… and, only in Canada.
    3. Maple Syrup – you can probably find that where you are…
    I have been neck deep in the throws of planning a local food conference here within slow food and have not posted for three weeks. Important work. Time well spent: BUT…I have not read, written, cooked and I miss my life and reading YOU!
    I am catching up slowly!

  3. Dang….I wish you were coming to Boston, I would have loved to have met you. I would have gladly carried your shopping bags as you sprinted through our local Wholefoods. Love this little cookie recipe, and your reflections on your little fashion maven. You’re just getting started with her, just wait till she becomes a teenager. Strap yourself in, ’cause its gonna be a wild ride! – S

  4. Sorry I missed your cookies at International Day! So glad to find the recipe here. They look divine. Enjoy shopping in the US. I hope you find some amazing food. Makes me laugh out loud that you would be curious about Target. I’m interested in hearing your impressions of my large and commercialized country. Tot zo!

  5. Not only am I from Texas, I live in Houston! How long are you here for? Sure would love to give you some restaurant ideas! What part are you in?

  6. Have you tried old bay seasoning? It is generally used with crabs I think… but you can find it on chips and fries…

    Oh and texas pecans are the BEST in the world imho… You should definitely stop and buy some along the roadside if you can, or go to HEB and get a bag that says it is from TX (most likely HEB brand) I have never had such tasty pecans again since I moved out of TX!

    Oh and take not of the beautiful blue flowers along side the highways, it should be blue boonnet season there!

    And a trip to TX would be incomplete without a visit to Chuys. HUGE burritos!

    Central market makes the best tortilla soup also. And yummy tomales!

    Have fun!


  7. You know, I live in America (California to be exact), and I don’t shop at most of those places. However, I love Meyer lemons, and I hope you can find some. I can’t suggest anything else, I don’t know anything about Houston, and the produce/food there would be different from what’s available in my part of country.
    And I hope you really enjoy your visit.
    O, and your coconut drops look delicious!

  8. Hi, you can buy vital wheat gluten in The Netherlands. And the Sligro has beautiful (and very expensive) vanilla pods. Kosher salt is any salt without additives. Oil & Vinegar in Leiden had some nice salts, last time I looked.
    Better to buy hard red wheat berries and hard white wheat berries. Those contain plenty of gluten and the American varieties aren’t available here. You can borrow my little millstone wheat mill (I live close to where you live) to try out for yourself what real, not (partly) reconstituted, wholemeal bread tastes like. You’ll be so happy with the result and children actually like this brown bread… Or buy milled flour, very different from Dutch flour. Do both and let someone else carry your suitcase.
    Then go and buy clothes, clothes, clothes, shoes and makeup! And clothes.

  9. I always forget how much of our food here in the Caribbean comes from Africa. Those coconut candies you describe are what we call sugar cakes. Love how you added the coconut to the jam drops.

  10. Oh I wish I could come see you in Houston…my hometown! And I wish I could have one of these cookies. I make jam drops almost every year, but I’ve never rolled them in coconut. Thanks for sharing all this culinary goodness. I hope you sleep well tonight and wake up refreshed and ready to embrace the new day!

  11. fun, you will love it!! Oh I am in Edinburg, about 8 hours away if not I would love to share a plate of Tex Mex with you!! great list, maybe some chiles, sorghum, pecans, bbq sauce, spices, ahh the list is endless…have agreat time, lovely sweet treats!!


  12. Have fun in America Oz!!! We are planning a trip there hopefully soon so I can totally understand your excitement. Hubby went to NYC last year and brought back a huge bag of candy from the Hershey’s store. Many we liked, but some of them only the four year old would eat. Don’t get Twizzlers whatever you do. Bleagh. These coconut jam drops remind me of a cookie my mum used to make, we called them “Liliputs”. You’ve inspired me to go dig up the recipe now.

  13. Bring an empty suitcase. Head to all your favorite stores and stock up. Find all the new spices that you want to discover and stock up some more. Houston is a big Texas city- enjoy yourself.

  14. Your cookies remind me of an American classic, thumb print cookies but even better with the coconut! Your shopping list made me smile, the items are naturally taken for granted by Americans, it’s so nice to see that what is normal for us is special to others. Wish I lived in Houston so I could see you and shop with you!

  15. Seeing those cookies reminds me that I had intended to make the same using some of the blackberry jam I made last week. It is such a wonderful colour and will look perfect nestled like a gem on top of some coconutty goodness.
    I envy you the opportunity to have a happy expedition through the food stores of the US – I’m led to believe that they are full of wonder and the aisles are paved with gold!!

  16. Enjoy your shopping trip to the USA!! Enjoy it all & I hope you vcacan buy all of the things you want to buy!! thanks for sharing these tasty cookies with us!

    You will be missed!

  17. How exciting. My suggestion would be to go to a grocery store and you will find things at a much better price. Kosher salt is great – no additives. Buy a big box. Buy some cans of Hatch chiles. They are the best. Pick up some blue cornmeal, grits, Tony Cachere cajun seasoning, Montreal steak spice, ancho chile powder, all sorts of dried chiles, Zatarain shrimp & crab boil seasoning mix, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (can), sorghum, pecans, and there is a great black truffle sauce you can buy in Houston, perhaps at the airport even.

  18. Enjoy your (real) trip – I have never been anywhere near there so it’s a foreign land to me too. I have 2 daughters so understand the peer pressure shopping totally. I love coconut biscuits – but can’t convert anyone else in the family to like them. Maybe this recipe will do it.

  19. Lovely cookie…but total fake-out on your trip. We thought you were moving here, not breezing through with a shopping cart.

    I’m not from Houston so I’m not sure what it has to offer but you seem to have a pretty good ‘to do’ list. If I think of anything, I’ll let you know.

  20. I am SO excited for you, Ozoz! How I wish I could sneak down to Houston to give you a big hug and go gallivanting in all those lovely shops. 🙂 You’ve picked the best of the best and Houston is a GREAT place to shop. 🙂 I’ve spent many happy hours shopping there. 🙂

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