It's that time of year again - you know, when little girls look at you as you exit Target or the grocery store, greet you with a sweet smile that's a mix of earnestness and shrewd sizing up of you as a potential customer while their parents benignly look on, appearing affable but with a glint of steel as "the look" is plainly in their eyes: "you're going to buy cookies from my kid, aren't you?" That's right, it's Girl Scout cookie time. Not only that, but Monday, March 12 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts Associations - Happy Anniversary, GSA!
I have supported (and eaten) my share of Girl Scout cookies through the years, notably when my nieces were that cookie-pushing, er, cookie-selling, age plus for my friends' kids who are the GS age and they've done the same chant "would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?" Are you really supposed to say "no"? Well, I will confess I have said "no". I know, I know, I'm made of stone. But honestly, I'm one of the few people in the known universe who doesn't really like the taste of Girl Scout cookies. I mean, hello, I bake my own cookies. And yeah, I include Thin Mints in the me-no-likey category. I realize that invites a flurry of "are you crazy? what's wrong with you?" type of comments but I stand fast. I like mint. I like (milk) chocolate. I don't like them together. I don't eat chocolate immediately after brushing my teeth either for the same no-mint-and-chocolate-combo reason. It's just wrong. So I assuage my guilt-ridden conscience by donating directly to the local Girl Scout troops; rather than them making 25 cents from every box I buy, I donate what I would've paid for the box(es) of cookies to the local troops so they can have their pizza party or ice cream party at the end of selling season. Or if I really can't withstand "the look" from adorable Girl Scouts and (maybe not as adorable but certainly more desperate) parents alike, I buy a few boxes and ship them to our troops overseas. Presumably, Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Do-Si-Do's give them a taste of home so it's a win-win all around.
Now, back in the day when I used to eat Girl Scout cookies, Samoas were conceptually one of the two cookies I would actually eat (Trefoils being the other one). Shortbread, chocolate, caramel and coconut - a no-fail combination in my book. I have nothing against Samoas and applaud GSA for the concept. A concept which I had to make as a homemade version of my own. I made it as a bar cookie version as no way was I going to take the time and trouble to make them as wreath-like cutouts. Bar cookies were easier: bake the bottom layer of shortbread first, cover with a layer of honest-to-goodness fudge, a layer of caramel and top with sprinklings of toasted coconut.
I cobbled this recipe together from a few different sources. Bake the shortbread layer first since that's the bottom layer. Let it cool slightly, just enough not to melt the fudge but you don't want it completely cool or the fudge layer won't adhere to it. Once you make the fudge, spread it evenly over the cooled shortbread. Let it cool to room temperature then spread the caramel layer over it. Before the caramel sets, sprinkle with toasted coconut. Let cool completely then cut into small squares. Then go exercise because this is a lot of calories. But worth every bite.
I used the shortbread recipe from the Twix Brownie Bars - click on the link to take you there
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country Chocolate Desserts
1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extrac
1. Line an 8 x 8-inch square pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Toss chocolates, baking soda, and salt in medium heatproof bowl until baking soda is evenly distributed. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Set bowl over 4-quart saucepan containing 2 cups simmering water. Stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is almost fully melted and few small pieces remain, 2 to 4 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer fudge to prepared pan and spread in even layer with spatula. Let cool to room temperature.
11 ounce bag Kraft caramel bits (I buy mine from Target, in the baking aisle)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Melt caramels and heavy cream in a heavy saucepan set over low heat, stirring, until smooth and blended together. Let cool slightly, stirring so it doesn't "set" in the pan. Pour in an even layer over the cooled fudge, smoothing the top. Garnish with cooled, toasted coconut on top before caramel layer sets.