Wednesday, March 27, 2013

At Home: Samoas

Samoas have always been my favorite Girl Scout cookie (although I do also enjoy Tagalongs and Thin Mints).  The Girl Scout bakeries describe Samoas as "vanilla cookies dipped in caramel, topped with coconut and drizzled with chocolate."  Even Keith, who is not a huge coconut fan, is very fond of Samoas and recently asked that I make some for my next installment of What Micky Eats... At Home.  I found a great shortcut recipe that still delivers all the great Samoas flavor without some of the more tedious parts of cooking making.  These bars are made in three steps.

Homemade Samoas Bars (Adapted from Baking Bites)
Cookie Base:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teasp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teasp salt
  • 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 12 oz good-quality chewy caramels
  • ¼ teasp salt
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 10 oz dark or semisweet chocolate chips

- First, make the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy.
- Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
- Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together.
- Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.
- Next make the topping.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden.
- Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
- Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt.
- Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt.
- When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base.
- Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
- When cooled, cut into small bars (yield 20 - 30 depending on size) with a large knife or a pizza cutter.
- Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching.
- Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper.
- Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.
- Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container. 
- Can be stored for a couple weeks in the refrigerator or freezer.

These bars have a shortbread base that were tender and buttery, the topping was sweet and salty with a delicious coconut flavor, and the chocolate on the bottom of each cookie balanced all the flavors perfectly. Since Samoas have chocolate on the bottom and a chocolate drizzle on top, I kept that same look for my bar cookies. If you want something a bit simpler, just dip half that bars in chocolate – or skip the dipping in favor of a drizzle. The important thing is that all the flavors get into the batch. I also used a slightly smaller pan, making my bars super thick.  They were still awesome, but maybe a tad too big.  Share these with some friends, because they can be quite addictive.  I could – but I won’t – probably eat an entire batch of these on my own.

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