Thursday, August 19, 2010

Samoa Bars

Every year we look forward to the phone calls and door to door visits of the Girl Scouts in our neighborhood. It seems like we order more boxes each year, thinking that they will last longer, but in a matter of weeks our supply is gone and there is nothing to do but wait. Mimi Jr. found this recipe for homemade Samoa bars and knew it would be a hit with the other coconut lover, Boy Mimi. While nothing is ever quite as good as the original, these will definitely get us through until the next Girl Scout comes knocking at our door.

These bars were the right flavor combination, but we all agreed that the bottom crust needs to be a little bit thinner and crisper.  I would add more coconut to the caramel mixture on top to really get that toasty coconut flavor. Although we usually keep our boxes of Samoas in the freezer, we thought these were best at room temperature.

Homemade Samoa Bars
adapted from baking bites

Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.

To make  the base, in a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. Do not over mix. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Poke holes in several places throughout the pan of dough using a fork.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk or cream
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, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden, about 10-15 minutes. Make sure to check often because coconut burns 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. (You can also use a double boiler, it just takes a little longer)

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 bars.
printable recipe

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 (I skipped this step). 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. * I just drizzled chocolate on the top*

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies.

As with most recipes I try to make them as written the first time. I can see that there could be some very tasty variation on this recipe. Ideas that we like were: substitute peanuts or toasted pecans for the coconut or for a German Chocolate Cake bar substitute some cocoa powder for flour in the base and add some toasted pecan  to the coconut in the topping.

We are sending this along to Foodie Fridays  party  at Design by Gollum. You can still enter the CSN give away here.