A couple of weeks ago I was in our local supermarket with one of my children. He brought me in front of the cookie shelves and showed me a package of the “cookies I ate at Bubbe’s house!” In front of me there were the Samoa cookies I had never heard of – or, as many call them, the Girl Scout cookies. Truth be told, they were on sale. Still, I refused to get sucked into the scheme and told my son, “come on, honey, we can make those at home, together!”
Once I got home, I frantically looked for a recipe. The way I look for new recipes on the Internet is quite simple. I Google the recipe I want to find, but instead of searching throughout the websites, I search on Images instead of Web, and I look at the pictures. My rationale is that, whoever posted the recipe, also posted the best picture they could take. If that picture doesn’t look great, well, it is likely that the recipe won’t be very reliable either…
In my search for Samoa cookies I found this precious blog, The Little Epicurean. I contacted its owner, Maryanne, and asked if I could use her recipes and transform them into their gluten-free versions. Maryanne kindly agreed. So here we are, gluten-free Samoa Cookies. It’s an elaborate recipe, but believe me, it’s worth it!
Gluten-free Samoa Cookies
For the shortbread cookie dough:
Unsalted butter 1 cup (8 oz)
Granulated sugar 1/2 cup (3.5 oz)
Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
Simona’s Flour Mix 2 cups (11 oz)
Baking powder 1/4 teaspoon
Baking soda 1/4 teaspoon
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
Whole milk or heavy cream 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons
For the Caramel:
Granulated sugar 1 cup (7 oz)
Unsalted butter 6 Tablespoons (3 oz)
Heavy cream 1/2 cup (4 oz)
Pinch of salt
Coconut, sweetened 3 cups (9 oz)
Chocolate (bittersweet, semisweet or milk) 10 oz chopped
Coconut oil or a shortening of your choice 1 Tablespoon
For the shortbread cookie dough:
In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, then add milk (or cream) and mix until dough has formed.
Divide the dough into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare parchment lined baking sheets.
Roll out chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles using a floured 2 1/2 inch cutter. Punch out an inner with a smaller cutter of your choice – we used the cupcake corer. Be careful because if the dough is too hard the cookie will break.
Lay the cookie cutouts on the parchment lined sheet trays and bake for 12-15 minutes until firm and lightly golden. Let rest on sheet tray until cool to the touch and then transfer to cooling racks.
For the caramel:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line sheet tray with parchment paper. Spread coconut into a thin and even layer on prepared sheet tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and stir coconut. Continue to bake at 5 minute intervals, rotating the pan and stirring the coconut until golden in color. Once toasted, let cool to room temperature.
In a medium sauce pan, add sugar. Cook over medium high heat until sugar begins to melt. Once sugar begins in liquefy, reduce heat to medium or medium-low. Do not over agitate the sugar, but swirl the pan once in a while to make sure sugar melts evenly. Continue to melt the sugar until liquid is amber brown and aromatic – I usually wait until the sugar starts to smoke.
Add butter to sauce pan. Whisk until all the butter has melted. Remove sauce pan from heat and slowly add the heavy cream. Continue to whisk until cream and sugar mixture are homogeneous. Be careful, once you add the cream, the sugar mixture will bubble and rise quite a bit. Be sure the sauce pan is away from heat before you add the cream.
Continue to whisk until caramel is thick and smooth. Let cool until slightly warm to the touch. Reserve about 1/4-1/3 cup of the caramel in a separate bowl. Then add the salt and toasted coconut. Fold into the coconut until thoroughly distributed.
For the dipping chocolate
Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 45 seconds on full power. Stir chocolate and continue to heat at 30 second intervals at half power until chocolate is melted – make sure not to overheat the chocolate which will bring it out of temper. Add the shortening so that the chocolate will be shiny and more manageable.
And now we are ready to assemble.
Once shortbread cookies are cool, dip one side into reserved caramel sauce. Then spread about 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of coconut caramel mixture on top of cookie. Dipping the cookie first into the reserved caramel sauce helps the coconut mixture to adhere to the cookie. Let cool on rack.
Dip the bottoms of the cookies into the melted chocolate. Let cool on rack upside down (coconut mixture side down) until chocolate has hardened and set.
Once chocolate is set, turn cookie right side up. Use a fork and drizzle the chocolate over the tops of the cookies. Let cookies sit out until drizzled chocolate has set.
We kept the cookies in the fridge. They lasted for a few days, since nobody could eat more than one at the time. My kids and my husband, who had tasted the regular girl scout cookies, told me that these were “much better!”