Monday, November 23, 2015

Samoa Cookie Bars

Samoa Cookie Bars - made November 15, 2015, adapted from Crazy for Crust
Before I became such a cookie snob, I actually did at one time eat Samoa cookies from the Girl Scouts. During that time period when my nieces were little and were selling them for their troop. I like the flavor combination of shortbread, caramel, chocolate and coconut but as for the cookies themselves….well, cookie snob here.
But my snobbery is turned to advantage when it means I make my own version from scratch. I got this one from Crazy for Crust and it’s a simple, straightforward recipe. It’s a combination of a samoa bar cookie and a magic cookie bar. The magic cookie part being the coconut, chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk and the samoa part being the shortbread crust and the caramel bits as well. 
The only thing I changed is I went with only 1 ¼ cups of flour rather than 1 1/2, mostly because at 1 ¼ cups, the dough was still crumbly and even though it stuck together when I squeezed handfuls of it, I was afraid adding another ¼ cup would make it too dry. But there was still enough crust mixture to make a credible bottom layer. It was more like loose crumbs than actual dough but that just makes it easier to spread evenly in the pan and pat down. The crust does come together in baking so don’t worry if it doesn’t go down as a fully combined bottom layer.
The caramel bits were a nice touch although be warned that once they’re baked and cooled, they do become really chewy caramel. If you have dessert consumers who don’t have strong teeth or jaws, you might be better off melting the caramel with a little milk and making that the layer directly on top of the shortbread crust then covering that with coconut and chocolate chips before pouring the sweetened condensed milk on top. The only thing I would do differently next time is I think I would bake the bottom crust a little longer than 10 minutes. At 10 minutes, they were still rather pale-anemic looking and not even the edges were lightly browned. Subsequently, I ended up baking the whole thing a little longer after I’d added the rest of the ingredients because I wanted to make sure the bottom crust was done. But that meant the caramel baked longer as well, hence the chewiness after it had cooled. So I think it’s better to bake the crust an extra few minutes then cut a few minutes off the baking time for the second baking.
I thought this was a good homemade version of the Samoa cookie; it’s easy to make and serve and honestly, my snobby taste buds say they taste better than the GS Samoas.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (adjust based on feel of the dough)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup Kraft caramel bits
1 can (14 ounces) regular sweetened condensed milk
  1. Line a 9x13” pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Beat butter in a stand mixer until smooth. Mix in flour, sugar, and salt. Beat until the mixture is crumbly. It’s done mixing when you can press it together between your fingers and it sticks together. 
  3. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  4. Remove hot crust from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips, coconut, and caramels.
  5. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden around the edges. Cool completely before cutting. 

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