I was a Girl Scout once.
Those were good times. As a Brownie and Junior, I learned how to make doughnuts out of canned biscuit dough, monkey bread and “banana boats,” which were bananas, chocolate and other candies wrapped in foil and “roasted” fireside.
My Girl Scout troup didn’t learn how to make granny knots or sing to the local nursing home in town.
Like I said, good times.
But the best part of being a Girl Scout was selling cookies, and then eating them of course. My favorite cookie growing up was an iced lemon cookie that was eventually discontinued. Today my cookie of choice is the Samoa. The Samoa is a shortbread cookie coated with chocolate on the bottom, and topped with a coconut and caramel topping. In other words it is delicious, and beats the socks off of Thin Mints.
Yeah, I said it.
Better than Thin Mints.
Try and see for yourself.
Samoa Cookie Bars
Makes around 25 bars
Adapted from Bakingbites.com
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
First, make the crust. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely rack before topping.
2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)
Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 10 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Be careful, the oils from the coconut will burn quickly! Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. 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. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping). Once bars are cut, 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 bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.
Note: You can simply drizzle chocolate on top of the bars before slicing them up if you’re looking for yet an easier way to finish these off. You won’t need quite as much chocolate as noted above.