Gourmet Samoas

Everyone knows Samoas are the best Girl Scout cookie. It’s basically a scientifically proven fact. Literally, Girl Scouts did a poll, seen here, and they won. Everyone knows polls are scientific. Girl Scout cookie season is a wonderful time of year, where everyone is reminded how great they are and buys a ton of boxes and then forgets about them once they're gone. But sometimes, you have an extreme craving for girl scout cookies but they’re out of season and you’ve eaten all the boxes and you thought you were so prepared and stocked-up for the year, but obviously not and you just can’t wait for Girl Scout cookie season to come around to have them again.

I’m here to help. If you ever have one of those feelings, just make your own. They’ll be just as good (if not way better) and they’ll be unlimited. You can just keep cranking out as many of these as you want all year long. As long as you have butter. Lots of butter. A whole boatload of butter. So much butter.

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To be honest, I always get excited about the idea of Girl Scout cookies. The problem with being a baker is that you bake all these wonderful treats and then other things sort of pale in comparison. For example: Girl Scout cookies. I used to eat so many of them, but now that I’ve made my own ah-mazing cookies (eg: Cinnamon Roll CookiesRolo CookiesBrown Butter Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip CookiesPeanut Butter Blossoms, or New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches) they lack their original luster. Once in a while they can be good, but they often seem crunchy and not worth it. So after a couple years of buying Girl Scout cookies that only get half a box eaten, my family has realized that we don’t get a chance to eat them amongst all our other baked goods and they just aren’t as good anymore.

I’m also not a Girl Scout anymore, so we don’t buy 25 boxes just so I can get a badge. Because that was always the only way I would ever sell cookies because I was too afraid to go knock on my neighbors doors. #sorrynotsorry.

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While this doesn’t apply to everything store bought (Um, Reese’s anyone? Maybe some Ritter Sport? How about some of those fancy chocolates you get around the holidays?) But it does apply to things like Girl Scout Cookies. Or Chips Ahoy. Or Twinkies. Or those brownies that come in boxes. I think one of the best diet plans ever (that I just made up, patent pending) is to make your own baked goods so that you stop eating the junky store bought ones because they aren’t as good. It’s foolproof really. You’ll drop a pant size within the week. (Okay, maybe not. But there is a point to be made here.)

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Which brings me to these. Wow. Shortbread topped with coconut caramel sauce and chocolate coconut crumb. Who needs those crunchy Girl Scout cookies when you can have these? They take all the flavors, shortbread chocolate, caramel, and coconut, and combine them into a similar yet way more sophisticated treat. It’s like puberty but in a cookie. It starts out as crunchy awkward little cookie with a hole in the middle and is transformed into a rich, decadent, shortbread cookie bar that you could eat at a British tea or just as a snack. Like when you have an awkward kid who magically over the course of 7 years transforms into a sophisticated socialite. And gains a British accent along the way, just for sophistication.

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I keep talking about British things because the shortbread recipe is a from a British cookbook Molly and I got for Christmas two years ago called Peyton and Byrnes. It’s amazing. We have yet to completely delve into its extensive realm of recipes, but these did not disappoint. I mean Britain is the home of shortbread, right? (That is not a rhetorical question, I’m really asking. I’m not completely sure. But I think so.)

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And I felt really clever and somewhat like a genius when I made the caramel layer, not gonna lie. I had a stroke of inspiration and decided to put coconut extract into the caramel sauce because I thought just putting coconut in the crumb wouldn’t really give it much coconut taste. And wow. It’s like a sweet gooey caramel coconut combo thing. So good. It’s like an exact imitation of the real flavor of a Samoa, it’s crazy.

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And the crumb is Momofuku, so how much do I really need to say about it? It’s super dark and rich and chocolatey. It really rounds it off.

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While I was making it, I thought I was putting way too much caramel and chocolate crumb on top, but honestly if I were to make it again I would use more. The crumb and caramel combo is my favorite part and the shortbread got really thick. I love shortbread, but I felt the chocolate caramel needed to be more prominent.

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So when you make these, don’t hold back on the toppings.

-Audrey

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Gourmet Samoas

Ingredients:

1 recipe Peyton and Byrne's Shortbread (recipe below)

1 recipe Coconut Caramel Sauce (recipe below)

3/4 recipe Chocolate Coconut Crumb (below)

Baked shortbread in pan, but don't cut into bars. When they're cool, spread the coconut caramel sauce on top and top with chocolate crumb. Keep going, layering them until you're out of ingredients or feel like it's enough.

Either refrigerate or keep at room temperature. Enjoy!

Shortbread Bars

From: Peyton and Byrne

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. LIne an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper and extend it over the edges of the pan.

2/ In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Sift the flour and salt into a separate bowl and add in half of it at a time to the butte,r mixing until just combined. Do not over-beat.

3. Pat the batter into the prepared pan and prick the top with a fork in a random manner. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

4. While the batter is chilling, preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes in the lower part of your oven so the shortbread doesn't get to brown. Remove from the oven and if desired, cut them into bars while still warm or just let them cool.

Coconut Caramel Sauce

Adapted from: Joy the Baker

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) good-quality salted butter (I like an Irish or French butter)
1⁄2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coconut extract
 
Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
Add the sugar, water, and corn syrup to the warming pan. Whisk the sugar occasionally as it begins to heat, to ensure that the sugar cooks evenly.
 
Cook the sugar to a nice dark copper color. The sugar will go from golden to dark copper fairly quickly. To help control the sugar, turn off the heat and move the pot to a cool burner just before you reach the dark color you’d like. The bottom of the pan will still be hot enough to continue to cook the sugar.
 
Over low heat, whisk butter, all at once, into the copper-colored sugar. When butter is melted, pour in the cream. The mixture will bubble and froth, but keep mixing. When bubbling subsides, add vanilla and coconut extracts. Stir. The caramel might feel too loose. Don’t worry; it will thicken as it cools.
 
Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To thin, warm in the microwave for a few seconds until you reach the desired consistency.

Chocolate Crumb

Adapted from: Momofuku Milk Bar

Ingredients:
(makes 2 1/2 cups)
2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 (F).

Combine 2/3 cup flour, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 cup coconut in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on low speed until mixed.

Add 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts together in small clusters and clumps — at this point, it should look a little bit like wet sand.

Spread the clusters on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, using a dough scraper to break them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly most to the touch at that point; they will harden and dry as they cool.

Let the crumbs cool completely before using in the recipe. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the refrigerator.