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Homemade Samoas

Posted By Suzanne McMinn On June 24, 2008 @ 5:05 am In Cookies,The Farmhouse Table | 49 Comments

Can’t find a Girl Scout? No problem! Make Girl Scout cookies at home. I experimented with a couple of different toppings and types of chocolate, suffering through all that cookie taste-testing, and I’m here to offer what I believe is the perfect combination of shortbread cookie base, coconut topping mixture, and chocolate coating for the best homemade Samoas.

You can, of course, shortcut this whole recipe by using storebought shortbread cookies as your base–but this shortbread cookie recipe is so quick and so easy and so good, why use pre-packaged?

How to make Shortbread Cookies:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix again. Add vanilla.

You’ll have a slightly crumbly cookie dough–don’t worry. Stick your hands in there and shape it into a nice ball. There’s plenty of butter in there, it’ll work.

Divide dough in two parts. Place half of dough between two sheets of waxed paper. Roll dough to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Repeat with second half of dough. Cut into rounds with a 1-1/2 to 2-inch cookie cutter and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Using a straw, poke holes in the middle of each cookie.

Bake at 350-degrees for about 15 minutes. Recipe makes approximately 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies. (Baking time and yield will vary depending on cookie cutter size and thickness of cookies.) Mmmm….shortbread cookies! These cookies are delicious on their own, but we’re not done!

I tried the coconut topping two ways–using a melted caramel mixture, and using a candied corn syrup mixture. I far preferred the corn syrup method, but I’ll post both versions to give you a choice. (Coconut can be sweetened or unsweetened in either method.)

How to make Samoa Coconut Topping:

Caramel Method:

3 cups shredded coconut
12 ounces caramels
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk

Place coconut in a parchment paper-lined pan and toast at 350-degrees for approximately 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes with a large spoon or spatula. While coconut is toasting, combine caramels, salt, and milk in a pot and stir over medium-low heat till melted. Remove from heat and add toasted coconut.

What is wrong with this method? Have you ever unwrapped 12 ounces of individually wrapped caramels? There should be an outcry. Somebody should write a letter. People should be picketing in front of candy manufacturers. Why can’t they sell “baking caramel” the same way they sell “baking chocolate”–in 1-ounce, easy-to-use squares, for example? Aside from the annoyance of unwrapping all those caramels, I found this mixture difficult to work with as the caramel starts setting up quickly as soon as it’s removed from the heat.

Corn Syrup Method:

3 cups shredded coconut
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place coconut in a parchment paper-lined pan and toast at 350-degrees for approximately 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes with a large spoon or spatula. While coconut is toasting, place butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a pot. Boil for three minutes. Switch temperature to low and slowly add sweetened condensed milk. Heat on low until a candy thermometer shows 220-225 degrees. Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla and add toasted coconut.

What is right with this method? No caramels to unwrap and the mixture is easy to work with as it doesn’t set up so quickly once it’s removed from the heat. However, if you want true caramel taste, you’ll have to use the caramel method. I found the corn syrup method’s ease of use outweighed the loss of the true caramel taste and still afforded a close, sweet approximation to the Girl Scout Samoa flavor.

Spread the topping mixture on top of the baked shortbread cookies, re-poking the center holes with a straw as needed.

The Chocolate:

8-10 ounces melted chocolate (semi-sweet or dark)

While the topping is setting up, melt the chocolate. I tried melting two types of chocolate–chocolate chips and candy chocolate. The candy chocolate was far superior. (Don’t use chocolate chips! It doesn’t set up near as well. Use a chocolate labeled for “candy” and it will set up as solidly as storebought chocolate-covered cookies–meaning, you can pick up a cookie without getting chocolate fingers. Chocolate chips just don’t do the trick.)

Using metal tongs, dip each cookie’s bottom into the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper. Drizzle chocolate lines on top of the cookies. Let set about 30 minutes for chocolate to harden.

Anybody want a cookie?

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