I found this cookie recipe in Eliza Acton’s 1845 book Modern Cookery, In All Its Branches (available from archive.org). I wanted to try it because a) I love gingerbread and b) the combination of ingredients (shredded coconut, rice flour) seemed unusual.
The actual making of this recipe was pretty straightforward and doesn’t need a lot of interpretation from the original Victorian wording. The dry ingredients are mixed together first while the wet ingredients are melted together in a saucepan. The wet ingredients are added to the dry, and lastly the grated coconut goes in. I interpreted Eliza Acton’s instruction for a “very slack oven” to mean about 325 degrees. Mine baked for about 20-25 minutes before they were done.
This recipe takes one whole pound of molasses, so unsurprisingly the finished cookies mostly taste like molasses. I could taste traces of the lemon and ginger; barely noticed the coconut at all except for the texture. The texture of the whole cookie, by the way, is quite dense and chewy. It reminds me of those energy bites at health food stores (Note: this was only true for the first few days after the cookies were baked. After that, they became hard as rocks. Do NOT let these cookies get stale!).
If you like molasses, you will like these cookies. If not…these are not for you.