Monday, August 2, 2010

Samoa Bars

I missed Girl Scout Cookie season. I was living in Bosnia and I'm pretty sure they don't have Girl Scouts in Bosnia. And if they do, I'm pretty sure they don't have Girl Scout Cookies. It's pretty sad.

Fast forward to a few months ago when we were looking for apartments in the DC area. Some friends of ours graciously let us stay with them for a few days and they took great care of us. One day after dinner, they pulled out a box of Samoa Cookies--my favorite Girl Scout cookies-- from their freezer to serve for dessert. Oh the will power of those wonderful people to still have a box of cookies available to share!

Of course, my will power is not nearly as strong. Naturally, I few cookies, no matter how delicious, can not make up for an entire year of Girl Scout Cookie famine. The situation had to be remedied and, although these bars are not a quick dessert to make, they are worth the time.

And you can bet that I ate 90% of them all on my own.

Samoa Bars
Makes 24 bars

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

3 cups shredded coconut
14 ounces chewy caramels
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

For the crust:
1) Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
3) 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.
4) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

For the coconut topping:
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
2) Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stopping to stir several times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
3) Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula or your hands, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 24 bars with a large knife or a pizza slicer.

For the chocolate:
1) Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bow by microwaving in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching.
2) 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. Alternately, you can omit the step to dip the base of the brownie in chocolate and simply drizzle the melted chocolate on the top of the bars.
3) Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container. Enjoy!

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