a reason to eat caramel, baking, caramel anything, homemade, homemade girl scout cookies, samoas

Why I Should Listen to the Missus


Naked Samoas

‘I want this
,’ is all her email said, followed by a link to a baking blog that had a homemade version of the Girl Scout Somoas Cookies–or, for those who are up on the name changes of GSA sold cookies, Caramel Delites.

I told her no and deleted the email. Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of Girl Scout Cookies and never have been. Maybe it’s something residual because I wasn’t a Brownie or a Scout, though both of my sisters temporarily were(we have a problem with follow through in our family). Sure, there was always a box or two of Thin Mints hanging out in our freezer when I was growing up–the supply seemed to respawn itself whenever we were getting low–but I just wasn’t really smitten with them. Now, as an adult, I will only admit to having a wee bit of badge envy.

Aside from random cravings, I try not to bring preservative filled snacks into the house so we’ve been GSA Cookie free for the past 3-4 years. Every year I have to turn down a co-workers proposal that we just order ‘a box or two’ to help his daughter with sales. I work in sales, so don’t try the heartstrings tug on me because I’m pretty damn impervious to it(unless you’re trying to sell me a kitten or puppy and, for them, I will crumble). After two weeks of the sign up sheet being hung up out back, I resisted all temptation and made it through another year without buying over priced cookies. Hooray for me.

Then, Valentines Day came and the Missus bought me the most thoughtful and amazing present and I realized what a selfish ass I was for not getting her a box or two of her favorite(Samoa’s) and spent the better part of a week trying to find her original email to me, asking for some cookies. But, that email was long lost to the trash bin and a simple Google search retrieved this one, though I opted for the much easier to make bars.

Homemade Samoas Bars
Cookie Base:

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

First, make the crust.
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 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 prepapred 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.

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 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

  1. 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.
  2. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
  3. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).
  4. 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.
  5. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies.

Note: You can simply drizzle chocolate on top of the bars before slicing them up if you’re looking for yet an easier way to finish these off. You won’t need quite as much chocolate as noted above, and you won’t quite get the Samoas look, but the results will still be tasty.

I did opt to make my own caramel using this recipe and cutting the amounts in half, ignoring the set up for the pan for the caramel to set in and picked up the above topping recipe halfway through step #1 where you are asked to stir in the coconut.

1 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cups half-and-half cream, divided
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  • (Line a 13-in. x 9-in. pan with foil; butter the foil. Set aside.) In a Dutch oven, combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1 cup cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Slowly stir in remaining cream. Cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 250° (hard-ball stage), stirring frequently. Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla until well mixed, about 5 minutes.
  • (Pour into prepared pan. Cool. Remove foil from pan; cut candy into 1-in. squares. Wrap individually in waxed paper; twist ends.) Yield: 1 pounds.

The caramel, because I opted to cut down the recipe, was barely deep enough to give a reading on my candy thermometer. And, because I didn’t want to repeat a bad caramel result, I used the old tried and true, though not very scientific, method of testing the caramel in a glass of cold water. If it held its shape, it was at the hard ball stage–if not, it was still on that side of too gooey. My caramel turned out a hair over the hard ball stage which made it hard to just bite into the bars without fear that a tooth would get cracked. However, the simple act of cutting the bars into quarters and storing them in a container, took away that fear.

But, in the end–for as self-critical as I am–the result brought a smile to the Missus’ face and that’s all that mattered.

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