samoas cookie bars

Samoas Cookie Bars | Solano's Kitchen

Samoas Cookie Bars | Solano's Kitchen

Do you have a favorite Girl Scout cookie? Samoas have always been number 1 in my book.  For years I’ve been wanting to replicate them in one form or another, be it Samoas Cupcakes (eek these are so adorable), a Samoas Cake (which looks like a giant samoa – bonus!) or actually trying to make the cookies themselves (so much work but so very awesome).  But for one reason or another, I have never gotten around to it.  Probably because I knew that I’d get all crazy about it and have to make my own caramels first (totally worth it, btw), and that the process would be super fun but long, and that I’d need a large block of time to do it.  Then, when Annie posted these cookie bars, I knew it was time to stop messing around.  Cookies in bar form felt like a sweet shortcut, and I haven’t been baking all that much lately so I was dying to get into the kitchen.  These were totally AMAZING, and I’m so glad I did – and yes, I did make homemade caramels for the topping, and I would HIGHLY recommend it! I actually bought store-bought candies assuming that I wouldn’t have the time/energy to make the homemade ones, and then when I tasted them I thought yuck, no way.  So glad I went with the homemade ones.  Even Daren, who usually teases me about overcomplicating things, said he couldn’t believe I would even consider using store-bought, haha!  So even if you’ve never made caramels, give it a shot – I promise it isn’t that difficult!!

Samoas Cookie Bars 3

Samoas Cookie Bars 2

Ingredients

For the shortbread base: 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (3 ½ ounces) sugar
  • 2 cups (8 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping: 

  • 11½ oz. soft caramels (store bought or homemade)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons milk
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2¼ cups sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

To make the shortbread base, preheat the oven to 350˚ F and line an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to the butter and sugar and mix on low speed until just combined.  Add in the milk and vanilla extract, and beat on low until the dough comes together in a ball.  Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press down into an even layer. Bake the shortbread for 20-24 minutes, or until it looks just set/dry.  Try to avoid having the shortbread brown at all (maybe a teensy bit around the edges).  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.

Remove the shortbread from the pan using the parchment as a sling.  Line the pan with an additional piece of parchment.  Meanwhile, melt the 4 ounces of chocolate for the base using a double boiler or by microwaving in brief (30-second) intervals.  Pour the chocolate into the pan and use an offset spatula to spread it out evenly.  Carefully remove the shortbread from the other parchment paper and place on top of the melted chocolate.

In another bowl, combine the caramels and the milk.  Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is fully melted and smooth.  Stir in the salt, coconut extract and toasted coconut.  Transfer the caramel mixture to the shortbread pan and spread out into an even layer.  Melt the remaining 3 ounces of chocolate and drizzle over the top of the bars.  Allow to set and cool completely before slicing and serving.

Yield: 1 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan; I cut into 20 pieces

Source: Annie’s Eats; originally adapted from Just a Taste

baked sunday mornings: campfire cookies

campfire cookies

When I saw these cookies on the schedule for Baked Sunday Mornings, I had really high hopes for them.  They seemed like an odd choice for a holiday cookie – I think of them as more of a summertime type of treat – but they sounded delicious nonetheless.  Who doesn’t love s’mores, and these are […]

confetti sprinkle sugar cookies

Confetti Sprinkle Sugar Cookies | Solano's Kitchen

Every Wednesday afternoon, Aria and I go to a “new moms” group at The Birth Center, where she was born.  We always have a great time, and we’ve made lots of new friends! In an effort to keep up with my baking and to have some material for new blog posts, I’ve started baking various […]

baked sunday mornings: election day palmiers

Palmiers1

Oh man, these were good.  I almost didn’t make them, even though I’ve been waiting for the past month to dive into Baked Occasions with Baked Sunday Mornings.  The week slipped away from me, as it tends to do, and when I saw this was a laminated dough I was like ehhhh… it’s going to […]

baked sunday mornings: banana whoopie pies with milk chocolate swiss meringue buttercream

Banana Whoopie Pies | Solano's Kitchen

Confession time: when these showed up as this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, I wasn’t really thrilled.  I haven’t been keeping up with the baking schedule very well lately, and I knew that this week I would finally have a chance to bake whatever was up next.  Now that summer school has started, Fridays off […]

chocolate peanut butter macarons

Chocolate PB Macarons 2

So by now, I think you all know about my love for macarons.  There’s something just so delicate and delicious about these little French cookies that gets me every time.  As I’ve mentioned before, in the past I’ve had the most success with the Italian method, and I still feel like this is the most […]

baked sunday mornings: peanut butter chocolate whirligigs

Bacon Chedder Scones

Nailed it! Or… not. Seriously, these cookies were a BIT of a pain in the behind.  As the name implies, they were meant to be whirligigs – as in peanut butter cookies with a swirl of chocolate in the middle.  Does that look like a swirl to you?  No, folks, it does not.  In case […]

christmas cookie roundup 2013

Have you finalized your Christmas cookie baking list yet, or are you just getting started?  I thought it may be helpful to put together a list of some of my favorite Christmas cookies, plus some other fun holiday baking/gifting ideas.  Whether you add 1 cookie to your traditional baking list, or if you’re just starting […]

cinnamon roll macarons

Cinn Macarons57_3

So, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m on a bit of a macaron kick over here.  I tend to go through these cycles every once in a while.  What happens is, innocently enough, I find a macaron recipe that looks pretty tasty and I decide I’m going to give it a whirl.  If the macs […]