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Friday, February 18, 2011

Homemade Samoa Bars

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Am I the only one whose favorite part of Girl Scouts was the cookies? Not necessarily the selling of them, but the time of year when the cookies finally arrived and for weeks on end we got to select a few to pack in our lunch every day. Okay, I also enjoyed the camp out, mostly because it meant eating copious amounts of s'mores and campfire cinnamon twists. Is it a problem that my favorite Girl Scout memories revolve around food?! I suppose that was foreshadowing right then and there...

Thankfully, you don't have to be a Girl Scout to enjoy Girl Scout cookies. The problem is, they're still only available once a year and they don't exactly last for weeks on end in our household. To get my fix, and while I'm anxiously awaiting the boxes I ordered from a co-worker's daughter, I decided to try my hand at Homemade Samoa Bars (aka Caramel Delights!).

After reading through the recipe, I knew these were going to be a little putsy. My prediction came true; these were definitely a little more involved than most bar cookies. I ran into a few problems with them, mainly some of my caramel didn't adhere well to the shortbread on the edges meaning they basically fell apart when I tried to cut them. I attribute this to two things: 1. I didn't have the full 12 oz. of caramels and had to make the recipe with only 8 oz. and 2. I don't think I did a good job of evenly spreading the shortbread. No worries--we just ate the mishaps and pressed on with the middle bars, which fared much better! I think if you  avoid my mistakes, you'll get a full pan of successful Samoa Bars.

These truly did replicate the taste of a Samoa which, in my opinion, made them worth the many steps. Will I still be buying Samoas from the Girl Scouts? Yes, long live Girl Scout cookies! But when I find myself craving a Caramel Delight in the middle of July, you can bet I'll be pulling this recipe out.

What's your favorite Girl Scout cookie? Any other "mock" Girl Scout cookie recipes I need to try?

One Year Ago: Sugar Cookie Bars

Homemade Samoa Bars
from You're Gonna Bake It After All

for the cookie base-
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
-1 large egg
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 tsp salt

for the topping-
-3 cups shredded coconut, toasted
-12 oz. chewy caramels
-1/4 tsp salt
-3 tbsp milk
-1 bag of chocolate chips (12 oz)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line  a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
2. With mixer on low, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly (dough doesn't need to come together).
3. Pour dough into pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, until set and edges are lightly browned. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Add unwrapped caramel candies with milk and salt in a large microwaveable bowl. Cook on high, 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir occasionally. Once caramel is melted and smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
5. Place dollops of topping on shortbread crust. Spread evenly with a spatula and allow to set until cooled. Once cooled, cut into evenly sized bars.
6. Melt chocolate in a small microwaveable safe bowl, stirring after every 45 seconds to prevent burning. Dip the bottom of each bar in chocolate and place on wax paper.
7. Transfer remaining chocolate (or melt more, if needed) into a piping bag or ziploc with a corner cut off and drizzle bars with chocolate. Let chocolate set before storing in an airtight container.