Monday, February 27, 2012

Homemade Samoa Bars

Those Girl Scouts seem to be everywhere these days hawking their cookies. Outside the grocery store, the home improvement store, and the YMCA. I even saw a cute girl in a Thin Mint costume outside a gas station yesterday.  Hope she meets her sales goals and gets that tshirt. She was workin' it.

My family can gobble down a box of our favorite, Samoas, in a single afternoon. That can be an expensive habit! So when my parents were visiting, my husband suggested my mom and I whip up our own version of those delicious nuggets.

With all the cooling steps, expect these bars to take a bit longer than a normal dessert. But they do not disappoint! Everyone in the family ate them up. They were even good with decaf coffee later in the night. And with my morning coffee the next day. A portion of these bars even made it into the freezer, so we were able to enjoy them later in the week (OK, they didn't last that long in the freezer!)

Homemade Samoa Bars
recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman and Baking Bites

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 whole egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups  flour
1 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and flour and mix until combined. Spread on cookie sheet with an offset spatula until thin. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Remove pan from oven and sprinkle on chocolate chips. Return to oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven and spread chocolate thinly over the cookie layer.

Let cool. When crust has cooled completely and the chocolate is set, flip the whole crust upside down and return to the pan. The chocolate will be on the bottom of the crust.

10 oz shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz  caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
1/2 cup 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 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Using a double boiler (a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water works great), melt the caramels, salt and milk together until smooth. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut.

Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. It will cool pretty quickly, so move fast. If the topping is still too sticky, use your fingers dipped in water to smooth it out. Let topping set until cooled.

When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter. (I skipped this step and some of the chocolate flaked off after it was cut)

Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on High in the microwave in 15-30 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Cool slightly (so the chocolate doesn't melt the bag!) then spoon the chocolate 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.

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