Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Heart Shaped Samoas

Do you follow Nic's Baking Bites ? It's filled with lots of tempting sweets and a week doesn't go by without a post that makes me drool.

Nic is especially good at recreating beloved recipes, especially Girl Scout cookies. She's got Thin Mints, Homemade Do-Si-Dos , Homemade Tagalongs and, Shane's favorite, Samoas.

So for Valentine's Day, I decided to follow Nic's Samoa recipe, but make the traditionally round cookies into hearts.

The verdict? YUM! With chewy caramel, toasted coconut, a buttery shortbread base, all kissed by dark chocolate, how could you go wrong? I'd say it was a spot-on recreation but this is so much better than the original. Those Girl Scouts better watch their backs...

The trickiest part of the recipe was spreading the coconut caramel topping onto the shortbread cookie base. The topping is awfully sticky and wanted to cling to almost everything it touched -- except the cookie. Eventually, I just used a spoon to spread the topping onto the cookie and, as the caramel & coconut cooled, I pressed it more firmly onto the cookie and shaped it into hearts.

Nic recommended Werther's Chewy Caramels but I was unable to find them at the store (what's up with that, Wegmans?!?) so I picked up Brach's Milk Maids instead. The end result was very tasty, but the caramel & coconut was a bit chewier than I would have liked; a softer caramel (but NOT a flowing one) would have been better.

I left the half the heart-shaped shortbread cut outs free of the coconut caramel, leaving some simply plain (for Kian's valentine gift), and others drizzeled in chocolate (for Sadie).

The unused caramel coconut topping didn't go to waste, however; it was pressed into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick, allowed to cool, and then cut into bite sized pieces. Voila! Tasty caramel coconut chews.

Homemade Samoas from Nic's Baking Bites (slightly adapted)

1 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.

Working in two or three batches, roll out the dough between pieces of wax or parchement paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and cut out shapes using a 1 to 1 1/2 -inch cookie cutter.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. If you'd like to make your rounds look just like samoas, use the end of a wide straw to cut a smaller center hole.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set.

Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Coconut Caramel Topping
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
8 oz. semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

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.

Meanwhile unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with salt, milk, and vanilla. 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 a small spoon or small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, 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 cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) 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.

Yields 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.


Sara said...

These look so delicious! I love samoas, they're my favorite girl scout cookies.

Snooky doodle said...

these are such a nice treat. coconut and caramel are awesome. :)

Max mickle said...

My father is a huge fan of samoas and I always try to bake one for him whenever we see my parents. He has yet to be fully blown away by any of the recipes i've tried. Simplicity is key, and yours looks perfect! Can't wait to try it.thanks again for your post.