Saturday, January 25, 2014

Homemade Caramel Coconut Chocolate Shortbread ... you know, those Girl Scout Cookies?

It is just about that time of year again - girl scout cookie time.  I recently got a craving for those coconut/chocolate/caramel/shortbread rings.  Do you know the ones I am talking about?  Since my freezer stash is gone, I decided to try making my own.  I started with a favorite crispy shortbread cookie that I cut into rings (using, of all things, a biscuit cutter and a large pastry tip).  Next, the caramel coconut.  Rather than taking all the time to make a caramel from scratch, I decided to "fix up" store bought caramels, and added toasted coconut to this caramel mixture.  I had problems keeping this coconut mixture on the cookie rings, so I used some of the caramel as glue.  This worked pretty well.  Then, I dipped the bottoms in chocolate and did a chocolate drizzle. 

All in all, the cookies were a bit fussy to make.  But, they tasted really, really good.  And, as I ate another cookie and drank some ice cold milk, I decided it was all worth it. 

Rolling and cutting out the shortbread rings, using a biscuit cutter and the end of a large cake decorating tip.

Stirring together the caramel and toasted coconut.  Mmmm, this mixture smelled so delicious as I was stirring!

This is where I spread a thin layer of caramel on each baked shortbread ring to act as "glue."  It worked very well.

Then, all I had to do was put on the caramel/coconut mixture and do the chocolate.  A quick chill to set the chocolate, and they were ready to eat.

Whoops!  I guess this one didn't make it through the photo shoot. 

The layers: chocolate, shortbread, a caramel/coconut mixture, and drizzled chocolate.  Are you hungry yet?

Homemade Caramel Coconut Chocolate Girl Scout Cookies

For the shortbread cookies:
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk or whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the coconut caramel and chocolate layer:
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded toasted coconut
  • 1 14 ounce bag caramels
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 to 12 ounces chocolate (I used semisweet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add flour, baking powder, salt, milk and vanilla extract, blending just until combined and the dough begins to come together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour or until chilled.  Once the dough has chilled, roll each disk out onto a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut out circles with holes in them (I used a round biscuit cutter and a large tip, but you could use a spice or condiment lid).  Place cookies on a Silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.  Try to re-roll out the dough as little as possible.  Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, and transfer the cookies to a wire wrack to cool completely.

To make the coconut topping, melt the caramels, milk and salt in a non-stick skillet or double-boiler.  Cook, stirring, until the caramels are fully melted.  Remove from the heat and combine about 3/4 of the caramel with the toasted coconut.  I found that a gentle folding maneuver worked the best.

Carefully spread the remaining 1/4 cup of caramel on top of the cooled cookies, using an offset spatula.  Then press on a portion of the coconut mixture.  I found this worked better when I put on food safe gloves to handle the coconut/caramel mixture.  If the caramel-coconut mixture gets too difficult to work with, microwave it for a few seconds.

Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler or in the microwave.  Dip the bottoms of the coconut/caramel topped shortbread cookies in the chocolate and place them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet.  This is a little tricky to do, but I found that if I held onto the coconut mixture, I didn't lose as many cookies in the chocolate (they aren't as pretty when they take a whole bath in the chocolate).  To do the drizzle, I melted some chocolate in a sandwich baggie, and after the chocolate was melted, made a tiny cut at the corner.  This allowed me to drizzle the chocolate with a lot more control (I am not good at drizzling with forks or spoons).  Refrigerate the cookies for about 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to completely set.  Then: time to eat!

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