One thing about living in a big, fast-moving city like NYC--suburban staples like Girl Scouts are harder to find than a needle in a haystack. Every year, when Girl Scout cookie time rolls around, I find myself desperately searching for a random troop of Girl Scouts, which of course, I never find. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands this time and make them myself, starting with my favorite: Samoas.
I made the easier bar version (there was no way I was about to cut out little doughnuts with my dough) and they came out even better than the "real" thing--which, by the way, is loaded with bad ingredients like corn syrup, artificial flavors, and stuff I can't pronounce. The homemade variety, on the other hand, is all natural and way more delicious to boot. My little bars came out chewy and caramel-y and sweet--just the way I like them.
Adapted from BakingBites.com
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 unsweetened shredded coconut
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels (I used Werther's Chewy Caramels)
1/4 tsp salt
3 tablespoons of milk
10 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate
First, make the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. 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. The dough does not need to come together.
Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.
Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. 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. 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 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping). 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. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.