Sometimes, A Recipe is the Best Souvenir

I recently returned from a lavish transatlantic crossing aboard SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream II.  During our 12-day voyage, I indulged in the lavish dining SeaDream is known for, digging into succulent roast duck, tender and salty lobster tail, butter-and-garlic-drenched escargot, moist and briny sea bass and spicy and fragrant Indian dishes that transported me to that exotic land.

But I became obsessed with the coconut cookies.

Almost as an afterthought, these sweet little gems appeared each afternoon along with sister varieties—chocolate chip, peanut butter, and fudge chip—on a dish atop a side table of the yacht’s Main Salon. For days, I agonized between a cookie or a glass of wine as my afternoon treat, but once I tasted that coconut cookie—crunchy yet chewy and bursting with coconut—I decided the wine could wait until cocktail hour.

SeaDream II Coconut Cookies | Photo: Judi Cuervo

One day, I breezed through the Main Salon to find the cookie dish devoid of my coconut favorites.  I consoled myself with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and relaxed on deck when SeaDream II’s charming Executive Chef Alistair Solomons happened by.  “No coconut cookies today?” I whined like a big, sugar-starved baby.  “Of course, there are,” he replied.  “Just call the concierge, and they’ll deliver some.”

Now, I like to be pampered as much as the next girl, but when I reach the point where I’m going to interrupt a busy professional’s day to request a coconut cookie, that’s when I’ll seriously begin to question my level of self-importance.

Chef Alistair and I chatted for a while, and he seemed so pleased with my passion for cookies that he offered me the coconut cookie equivalent of a Powerball win: the actual recipe.

This is how I find myself today, a week after my return from SeaDream II, elbow-deep in a concoction of water, sugar, eggs, and coconut, Chef Alistair’s recipe by my side.  

Grams to cups is the first obstacle.  Centigrade to Fahrenheit is the second.  And what the heck is desiccated coconut?   These measurements!   It sounds like he’s whipping up a batch of cookies for the entire 112-passenger yacht!  Oops.  He probably is.

But I’m determined:  I convert the measurements and temperature, halve the recipe, and do more research on desiccated coconut substitutes than I ever thought possible until I see I can use shredded unsweetened and unsulfured coconut instead—just more of it.

And here are my results:  About 40 delectable coconut cookies.  Not bad!  Sure, they’d taste better if I were sitting at SeaDream II’s Sea Club or beside her swimming pool, but there is one benefit of home consumption:  Here, I have an ample supply of dental floss to dislodge all those little shreds of coconut between my teeth.  On board, I was running low.


Judi’s Cookies | Photo: Judi Cuervo

1 3/4 cups sugar (divided into two 7/8 measurements)

1/4 cup water

3 whole eggs

1 5/8 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut (or a 12-oz. bag of shredded unsweetened unsulfured coconut)


Combine 7/8 cups sugar with ¼ c. water and boil until 235-240 degrees F (or test a few drops on a plate until the mixture is sticky).

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with 7/8 cups of sugar until fluffy

Add the boiled sugar mixture to the beaten eggs—do this very slowly so as not to “cook” the eggs with the hot sugar and water mixture—and add the coconut.

Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes so it thickens a bit.

With wet hands, shape the dough into balls and place them on a parchment-covered baking tray, leaving ample space between cookies. Dip your fingers in water and flatten each ball.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 17 minutes.

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.