Samoa Cookies

I'm the special occasion nerd at work. It's possible I'm more excited about a birthday than the actual person celebrating it, because it means I have to challenge myself. It's like I have to top the last one every time, or at least attempt it, because this blog isn't about being perfect at cooking and baking, but learning about it.

One of my colleagues is a chronic Facebook sharer. I'm always tagged in some meme or recipe. Given that I love memes, I don't find that to be an issue. And recipes! Give me all the food ideas.

Well, on at least three of these random taggings, there's been a samoa cookie-inspired recipe. I knew workiversary time was around the corner, so the most recent recipe was recorded in the mental notes. These are handy because sometimes I'm at a loss as to what I can make. Work smarter, not harder.

We all know Girl Scouts are the big timers of the cookie market. They sell these perfect collections of sugar outside the store, waiting patiently to pounce on you as you walk to your car. Sure, you had the best intentions. You walked the perimeter of the store, grabbing only fresh produce and meats on the way. But none of that matters when your eye catches those bright colored boxes of joy. Thin Mints. Samoas. It's already over. You're three boxes in before you know it. Addict.

Time for that Morpheus meme. What if I told you you could make samoas at home?

I'm not opposed to supporting the Girl Scouts. But we know those cookies aren't out year-round, and what if I get a random hankering for one of those special little pieces of heaven? I need options. I've got you, bud. Read on.

Making the dough was simple. The ingredients were creamed butter, powdered sugar, salt, and flour. That's right, no eggs. I added in some vanilla and almond extract because, well, I felt like it. Though crumbly, the dough was combined well.


The dough needed to rest for about hour, and this gave me time to focus on the caramel. I needed the dough to rest and to make it hard enough to be rolled out and handled, so it got balled up in plastic wrap and refrigerated for an hour.


I split the dough in half and rolled it out on my handy dandy pastry board until it was about 1/4 inch thick. Then the biscuit cutters came out. The larger one made the cookie and I cut a hole out of the center with a small one. The hole is purely aesthetic; I don't imagine leaving it out would cause immense structural damage or anything. So if you want more cookie, leave that in place. I wanted the muy authentico version.


Just like that, a tiny shortbread cookie was born.


I laid my little dough collection out on a pan lined with a silicone pan (and another with parchment) with some spacing to allow room for rising. The giant cookie called for about a 20 minute cook time, but when you split it into 25 parts, the heat is going to affect it a little more. I baked them for about 12-15 minutes, and they only grew a small amount, so this was perfect.


In the meantime, I melted some dark chocolate in a saucepan on LOW heat. I wanted to wind up with a creamy chocolate to dip in. It doesn't take long.


The cookies baked for around 15 minutes, then I let them cool for a few minutes before spreading some chocolate on the bottom of each. I laid them face down (chocolate side up) on a plate, then put them in the fridge to cool. The chocolate doesn't harden right away so the refrigeration helps.


Now it was topping time! I made a homemade caramel as opposed to the melted down caramel squares originally called for, but you can save time and just melt down some squares. I had about a cup and a half of melted caramel in my topping. It hardens FAST. So once it's warm, mix in the coconut and start the spreading process.

I scalded off  fingerprint or two here because homemade caramel is basically napalm. That made unlocking my phone a whole new challenge for a few days. It's like a game, trying to get that reader to pick up a partial print. What I'm getting at here is that you may want to consider being careful.


I topped the caramel of with some more chocolate and voila: gave those scouts a run for their money.


Bueno! You know, I post all my recipes, but I am a harsh critic of my work. Many times, I enjoy a recipe and get decent feedback (I prefer super dry honesty, because how can I get better without it?!), but feel like there was room for improvement. But not here.

These were awesome. The shortbread itself was phenomenal and I can see it topped with many variations. I didn't detect an overly nutty flavor from the spelt (that is one of the reasons to use spelt, adding some flavor), but I found the texture of the cookie perfect. Spelt is slightly grainier than regular all purpose flour, and depending on how you use it, can make something special.

The topping didn't hang on to the cookie as well as I'd hoped; I noticed it pop off on a few, but likely due to the caramel cooling first. My thought here is to use a little more caramel to thin out the topping and give it more liquid caramel to "glue" to the cookie, or just spread some melted caramel on before adding the coconut-mixed in one (I later found this was suggested in the original recipe, so, great job Em). Either way, a little bit of a topping malfunction does not take away from this cookie.

Most importantly, however, they were a hit at work. I was able to make someone feel special with a little customized surprise, and she even loved how they tasted. I bake for two reasons. One is that I love learning and playing in the kitchen. Two is that I get a great deal of enjoyment making people happy via their stomachs.

These do require a bit of patience, and depending on how dedicated you are feeling with the caramel (homemade vs. store bought), it can take a few hours. 100% worth it.

Samoa Cookies Recipe

Ingredients:

For the shortbread cookie:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For the topping:
3 cups shredded coconut, toasted
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 cup soft caramels, melted
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

For the shortbread cookies:
Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined, then stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the flours and salt, then mix until just combined. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Roll out the dough onto a floured surface until it is about 1/4" thick, dividing in half if you don't have enough room for the whole amount. Use cookie or biscuit cutters to cut out a large circle, then a smaller one. The cookies can be as big as you'd like, though smaller ones will cook faster. Place cookies on a parchment-lined pan and bake for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Set aside to cool prior to adding topping.

For the topping:
To toast the coconut, spread the shredded coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through to evenly toast.

Melt the chocolate on low heat, then spread a thin layer on the bottom of each cookie, leaving 1/4 cup behind. Set the cookie chocolate side up on a plate or tray and refrigerate for 10 minutes to harden the chocolate.

Melt your caramels in a small saucepan on medium heat, adding about 2 tablespoons of milk to thin it out. Stir while it melts, then add the mixture to a bowl with the toasted coconut and stir. Spread the topping onto the cookies, then drizzle with the remaining melted chocolate.

adapted from giant samoa cookie

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