Girl Scouts, and their cookies are evil. Little girls in little outfits, their adorable patches and vests and all those delightful rectangular boxes of deliciousness. Eager smiles and bright eyes saying “Would you like to buy some cookies?”. I managed to avoid them this year. I hid my face, pretended to be deaf, did all I could to find an entrance not blocked by a table loaded with treats. Why did I do that? Now they are all gone. And I don’t have any boxes stashed in my freezer. Woe is me! Whatever will I do? (breathe Tonya, just breathe) Ok. I found this idea for homemade Samoas Bars and knew I’d found a perfect solution. Shortbread base, topped with caramel coconut and a drizzle of chocolate. All the awesomeness of my favorite Girl Scout treat, and from my own oven. Hooray! Oh joy! Rapture!
One problem, I was in such a hurry to get these made so I could devour them that I made the crust (used Barefoot Contessa’s shortbread, just pressed into my pan) without verifying I had all the other ingredients. Bad move. Don’t do this. Realized I didn’t have caramels so when the shortbread was cooling, I popped out to the store to pick up some. Did you know caramels are seasonal? Regular grocery stores only carry the bags of caramels in the fall. When folks are making dipped apples. What is with these people? Don’t they know that we need caramels other times of the year too? What is this world coming to? I was so upset, I didn’t think straight enough to check for a bulk candy bin, or just pick up a jar of ice cream topping. What can I say? My brain doesn’t work properly when I’m sugar deprived. Instead, I came home and made a batch of my own caramel – but the amounts were off since didn’t want to weigh my batch of caramel, I came in a under the 12 ounces required in the recipe. My topping was a little too firm ultimately. Once I realized it needed more caramel, I was too close to a finished project to wait and make another batch to mix in. I know, I’m so lazy. I wanted to eat one now. I couldn’t wait. So I wolfed down one with the too-firm caramel/coconut topping. The taste was amazing. With the right consistency in the caramel/coconut mixture, I’ll be in danger of eating the whole batch myself. Even with the too-firm stuff I managed to choke down three of them. I’ll be making these again soon. Possibly tonight – after I find a store with a bulk candy section and get some caramels.
Shortbread Crust (from Barefoot Contessa)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350F. 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 vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Make sure it’s completely cooked – golden brown around edges…it won’t get cooked any more and you want it firm enough to hold up the rest of the cookie. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)
Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 15 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 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).
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.