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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Homemade 'Samoa' Girl Scout Cookies

This recipe has been circling the web ever since Nicole over at Baking Bites cracked the recipe a couple months ago.

Samoas are my favorite Girl Scout cookie, so I just had to give it a try. They turned out surprisingly good!

Please note – I doubled the cookie recipe from Nicole’s original, and the amounts are indicated here (it made 67 cookies total). If you halve this recipe, you’ll still get 3-4 dozen cookies out of it. I also modified the topping a bit…I didn’t need near that much coconut, but I increased the caramel amount. In the end, I still had leftover coconut and chocolate. I suggest you eyeball the topping and adjust to your liking!



Homemade ‘Samoa’ Girl Scout Cookies

2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Up to 4 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed. Mix in vanilla and milk, adding in the milk only as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (you may not need any at all). The dough should come together into a soft, pliable ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough seems sticky.

It's easiest to roll the dough out in 4 or 5 batches, using a 1 ½ inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined (or on silicone mat) baking sheet. Repeat until the dough is used up (it's okay to re-roll, this dough is shortbread-like and very forgiving.)

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are very lightly golden brown around the edges. (I found that 14 minutes was perfect for my oven…your mileage may vary).

Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, allowing them to firm up slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Topping:
4 cups shredded coconut
30 ounces chewy caramels
½ teaspoon salt
6 ½ tablespoons milk
24 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips will do)
If you prefer milk chocolate, by all means use that.

Preheat oven to 300°

Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Watch carefully, especially near the end of toasting time; the coconut toasts very quickly once it begins to become 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.

Using the spatula or a spoon, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 teaspoons per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it begins to firm up, to make it soft and spreadable once again.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent overheating. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Recipe credit: Nicole @ Baking Bites.

Notes:

• The coconut/caramel mixture is pretty sweet, so for the chocolate topping I used a combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and unsweetened baking chocolate. The final mix was a little too bitter, so I added a handful of French chocolate truffles and that balanced it out just right.

• I have had bad experiences in the past with scorching chocolate in the microwave, so this time I chose to melt my chocolate using the double boiler method. I don’t actually own a double boiler (another kitchen appliance to add to the ol’ wishlist), but using the metal bowl of my KitchenAid mixer set over a pot of simmering water works just as nicely. The great thing about this technique is that the chocolate stays smooth and melted for as long as you want it to – no need to reheat or hurry to beat the clock and avoid working with hardened chocolate.

• I dipped the base of the cookies in chocolate first, turned them upside down on a parchment-lined sheet, and let the chocolate harden while I mixed up the coconut mixture. It seemed easier than setting the cookies, already topped with coconut-caramel, hot sticky chocolate side down, on parchment.

• For the chocolate drizzle on top, I filled a ziplock with chocolate straight from the stove and used a fine-tipped decorating tool, but I was overzealous in my squeezing, or maybe the chocolate was too hot, because the bag burst. Liquid chocolate all over the baking sheet! After a few words of frustration and cleaning up the mess, I opted to use a spoon. Dipped the spoon into the chocolate, then drizzled over the cookies. A lot simpler, and with similar results...I just didn’t get perfect straight lines across the cookies.

• If you want to get even more authentic and creative with this recipe, you can cut holes out of the center of your cookies to make them look even more like real Samoas. I simply didn’t have time…because my batch was so large, the entire process took me about 3 hours from start to finish.

• My new favorite aroma is toasted coconut. It makes the house smell HEAVENLY!

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