Thursday, January 16, 2014

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies

Oh my gosh, it's already that time of year again!  Time for the Girl Scouts to come out, or recruit their parents, to start selling those delicious little cookies that, I swear, are designed to ruin people's diets.  I usually end up buying a couple of boxes myself, and then give them to my husband; but this year I am no longer at school and therefore don't have any little girls asking me.  Jeff however, has some recruited parents working with him, so he ended up calling me the other day to see if I wanted any boxes.  Right away, my stomach said, "Yes!!!" but my will power kicked in and I ended up telling him "no."

However, that evening, while Jeff was at bowling, his team members issued me a challenge.  They wanted to see if I could bake up a batch of Samoa Girl Scout cookies that tasted just as good, if not better than, the actual boxes they buy.  Now, as most of you know, I'm always up for a good challenge, therefore I think it goes without saying that I gladly accepted.  Sadly, I didn't get to eat any of the cookies myself (completely my choice), but I did end up hearing that they were delicious.  If you choose to make a batch for yourself, you can be the judge.

These cookies were definitely fun to make once, and definitely worth it, but are slightly time consuming.

(Just to clarify.....We still support the Girl Scouts and Jeff actually purchased a few boxes from someone he works with)

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies

Makes about 3 ½ dozen
Shortbread Cookie:
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 TBSP. milk (if needed)
½ tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups shredded coconut (toasted)
13-14 oz. good quality caramel chews
3 TBSP. milk
1/8 tsp. salt
10 oz. dark chocolate chips (I like using Hersey’s)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Change the mixer to a lower speed and pour in the flour.  After a few seconds add in the vanilla, and milk (but only as needed) until a dough begins to form.  The dough should come together in a ball all on its own.  If you added too much milk, just add a little more flour.  The dough should not feel sticky.

Use your hands and divide the dough into 2 sections.  Roll each section into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat.

Once ready, remove the dough from the refrigerator and take off the plastic wrap.  Next, sandwich the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out until it’s about ¼ inches thick.  Cut the dough using a donut cutter, or two different sized round cookie cutters.  Place the prepared cookies onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or just until the bottoms begin to turn a light golden brown.  While one or two batches are baking, continue to cut more cookies from the dough, re-rolling as needed.

Once the cookies are done baking, let them cool for about a minute on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack where they will cool completely.

To toast the coconut:
Place the coconut into a large skillet set over a low-medium heat and stir occasionally.  Once the coconut pieces start to turn a little brown you will want to make sure that you continue to stir constantly, as the pieces will toast very quickly.  Once the coconut looks browned, remove from the heat, and pour into a bowl; set aside.

For the caramel:
Place the caramel pieces into a microwave safe bowl with the milk and salt.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, making sure to stop and stir around as needed and to help the caramel melt.  Once the caramel has melted, fold in the toasted coconut using a large spoon or spatula.

To assemble the cookies:
Using a small knife, or spatula, evenly spread the coconut topping over the cooled cookies.  Helpful Hint: If the caramel begins to harden and makes it too difficult to spread onto the cookies, just place the bowl back into the microwave for 10-20 seconds and it will soften it back up.

While the topping on the cookies hardens, melt the chocolate.  I chose to melt mine in a double broiler, on the stove top, but you could always melt it in the microwave.  The nice thing about the double broiler is that the heat from the water (even though I turned the stove off), keep the chocolate soft the whole time.  This meant that I didn't have to keep melting it as I worked.

Once ready, dip the base of the cookie into the chocolate and set aside on a piece of parchment paper to cool.  After all the cookies have been dipped and set aside, pour the remaining chocolate into a piping bag, or Ziplock bag, with the corner cut off, and drizzle the chocolate over the tops of the cookies.  Let cool until the chocolate hardens.  I placed mine in the fridge to speed up this process.

Eat when ready, or store in an airtight container for later consumption.  Enjoy!  


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