Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade Girl Scout Samoa Cookies

Out of all the Girl Scout cookies, Samoas (also known as Caramel deLites) have always been my favorites, with Thin Mints close behind. However, I can never seem to justify paying the amount they ask for a small box of cookies, so I don't get to indulge in them very often. I have been wanting to make my own samoas for at least a year, and I finally took the time to do it. The process is a little bit involved and this is no quick cookie recipe, but the results are quite worth it! This is an especially fun recipe to do with kids. They can help measure and add ingredients, cut out the circles, poke the holes, unwrap caramels, drizzle the chocolate--lots of little jobs they can help with. My 2-year-old had a lot of fun helping me mix the dough, roll it out, and cut out the circles. It's a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen.

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. milk

3 c. shredded coconut
12 oz. caramels
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. milk
8 oz. chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder on low speed. Once dry ingredients are mixed in well, add the vanilla and milk. The dough should come together to form a soft ball that isn't too sticky. You may need to add a little bit of flour if the dough is too sticky to work with.

Roll the dough out in between two sheets of wax or parchment paper, making it about 1/4 inch thick. Make cookie rounds using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter (I don't have one that small so I used a small juice glass). Re-roll the dough as many times as you need to use as much dough as you can. I got 40 cookies out of the dough. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or use a baking mat). Using a knife, the end of a straw, your finger, the end of a wooden spoon, etc., make a small hole in the middle of each cookie.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned. Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then place them on a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before adding the topping.

For the topping
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread the coconut evenly on a baking sheet (be sure to use one with rims, if you have one) and toast for 20 minutes, being sure to stir it about every 5 minutes. Watch carefully near the end as it starts to brown, since coconut can quickly turn from "toasted" to "burnt." Remove from oven once the coconut is golden brown. Set aside.

Unwrap caramels and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Add salt and milk and heat on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping occasionally to stir. Once the caramels are melted and smooth, fold in the coconut. Spread the topping on the cooled cookies, using about 2-3 teaspoons per cookie. If the topping gets too hard to work with, pop it into the microwave for a few seconds.

While the topping sets, melt the chocolates in a double boiler (or a glass bowl placed over a pot of lightly simmering water) or in the microwave. If melting in the microwave, heat at 30-second intervals, stirring well to prevent scorching. Once the chocolate is melted, dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a piece of wax or parchment paper or on a baking mat.

Transfer the rest of the chocolate into a piping bag with a small tip or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle the cookies with chocolate. Let the chocolate set completely. This process can be sped up by placing the cookies in the fridge. Believe this point you are going to be really impatient to try one because they look so tasty! Store cookies in an airtight container, after trying a few, of course.

Notes: Like I mentioned above, this recipe is a bit time-consuming, but the results are so worth it. Have fun and enjoy your own homemade version of Girl Scout cookies!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Frozen Strawberry Squares

1 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
2 egg whites*
1 c. sugar
2 c. sliced fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1- 1 1/2 c. whipped topping

1. Mix together flour, brown sugar, chopped walnuts, and melted butter. Sprinkle mixture on a cookie sheet, making pieces a little larger than peas. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to get even browning. Cool completely.
2. Spread most of the cooled crumb mixture on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the strawberry squares.
3. Combine egg whites, sugar, strawberries, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until stiff, at least 5-7 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Pour mixture over the crumb crust and use reserved crust crumbs for garnish. Freeze overnight, then cut in squares and serve. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer: The egg whites used in this recipe do not get cooked. If this is something that bothers you or that you don't want to risk, I suggest not making this recipe.

Notes: This is my grandma's recipe and was a favorite of mine growing up. I love the light, fluffy, fresh filling combined with the crispy crust and topping.