When the Gainesville City Commission nominees held forums and debates to discuss their stance on local issues they overlooked one very important topic – the lack of locations to purchase Girl Scout Cookies. This window for chocolate-coated shortbreads and peanut butter filled sandwich cookies is rapidly closing and Gainesville never even got their chance to breathe in the sugar scented air. On girlscoutcookies.org , I typed my zip code into the “cookie finder” (by the way, there’s an app for that) and was disappointingly informed the nearest available cookies were an eternity of 76.5 miles away from me. After learning of this blatant injustice, I began begging my friends in a manner similar to a sketchy drug deal for their little sisters to hook it up with a few a boxes. I was successful and got my hands on a box of Samoas and a box of thin mints. I was three deep in Samoas when the thought came to me that making my own version couldn’t be that difficult and had to be less expensive than the outrageous $4.00 a box these little brownies pedal them for. I was right! Homemade Samoas are a bit time consuming but definitely cost effective, and currently convenient with Gainesville’s unexplained Girl Scout shortage.
You might be wondering why not make your own Thin Mints since they are the most popular Girl Scout cookie. The answer to that is because I made them last year and seem to be on my way to becoming the first honorary twenty-one year old Girl Scout. The recipe for Thin Mints can be found here.
Samoas are simple short bread cookies with a hole in the center, covered in a caramel and toasted coconut topping and then dipped in and streaked with rich dark chocolate. The recipe can be found below. These are definitely worth the effort!
For The Cookies:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Up to 1 tablespoons milk (you might not need it)
For the Topping:
2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
8 ounces Kraft chewy caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 to 12 ounces dark chocolate such as Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips
Make the Cookies:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a second, larger bow, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture until combined.
4. Add the vanilla and combine.
5. The dough should come together and be soft and not-too-sticky. If it is not coming together, add the milk. If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour. It should not stick to your fingers if you poke it.
6. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions and freeze for 10 minutes.
7. Roll out each portion between large pieces of wax or parchment paper to a thickness of no more than 1/4 inch. Transfer the dough and parchment to the refrigerator to chill for 10 to 15 minutes.
8. Use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to cut dough rounds. For the hole in the center, use any small, round kitchen utensil you can find or a knife. (Note: I used the wide end of a cake decorating tip). Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheets.
9. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are very lightly browned and the cookies are set.
10. Cool them for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (Note: I left mine in the refrigerator overnight so they were really easy to work with once I did the topping. You risk breaking the cookies when they are not completely cooled. They are delicate!)
Make the topping
1. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Line another baking sheet with parchment
2. Spread the coconut evenly on the baking sheet and toast, stirring every five minutes, until the coconut is golden, about 10-15 minutes. (Note: Keep your eye on it! I burned the coconut the first time I did this). Cool the coconut on the sheet, stirring occasionally, until it cools to room temperature. Set aside in a bowl.
3. Melt the caramels, milk, and salt in a medium sauce pan on medium-low heat. When the caramel is evenly melted, stir in the coconut and reduce the heat to low.
4. Using a small metal spatula spread the topping onto the cooled cookies, using about one tablespoon per cookie. If the caramel becomes too firm to work with, increase the heat for a few moments until it is pliable again. Let the cookies set.
5. Place the dark chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals in a microwave while stirring after each interval to prevent scorching.
6. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate, using a spatula to smooth it and then place on parchment or wax paper to set.
7. Transfer any remaining chocolate into a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off. If necessary, melt additional chocolate.
8. Drizzle chocolate stripes on top of the cookies. Let the cookies set by transferring them to a freezer for five minutes.
If you manage to fend off Girl Scout cookie deprived friends and have some extra cookies, they will store for two weeks in the fridge in an air tight container. This recipe makes about 20-25 cookies depending on how thin you roll them out.