Sunday, April 3, 2011

homemade samoas

I'm a judgmental person.

Not in a particularly pretentious way; I just form highly scrutinized opinions about people based on their often poorly executed life choices.

It's not like I can help it, either. It just...happens. Instinctual. Out of my control.

Not that you have anything to worry about, I assure you.

Unless you happen to fall into the above category.

In which case I'll metaphorically shake my head in disappointment and pity. Or literally. Either one.

Just this sort of thing happens whenever I enter or observe any sort of competition. Whether it be an essay submission for publication in a journal, a graphic design contest,  American Idol, fighting against a good friend in Super Smash Bros Brawl, what have you. This weekend, it happened to be a bake-off.

I'm not a very competitive person by nature, particularly when it comes to academics [to each his own; read: I don't care how well or poorly you do as long as I have access to caffeine and a comfortable sofa in which to study my butt off], but I can't say the same holds true if you hand me a video game controller or a spatula.

I feel the need to prove myself.

And when that happens, things get ugly.

To my dismay, this weekend's competition was not in my favor. The bake-off was held earlier today, and I must say some of my competitors were very skilled. Noosh was by my side the entire time, as only the best of best friends would, so the blow wasn't too hard-hit when I didn't hear my name called to the podium.

But now I'm just being melodramatic.

I actually wasn't too bummed about it, mainly because I felt as though some of the more skilled competitors (particularly one girl who baked an almond torte layered with a balsamic raspberry reduction and topped with a white chocolate mousse, a cake which I regret not having begged a recipe for) were overlooked completely by some less...well...


Let's just say, my cynical judging of others came in full force today when I witnessed nothing but cupcake pops, Oreo truffles, 7-layer-bars, and other desserts even your middle-school-aged younger brother could recreate if he had access to some butter, flour, sugar, and the most popular recipe submissions on Tastespotting.

But I suppose it was worth the four hours of my life that I will never get back, since Noosh and I are now able to cross one more dessert off of our list.

Homemade Samoas
Adapted from Once Upon a Plate

For the shortbread cookie, you'll need:
  • 1 cup [2 sticks] butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • up to 2 tbsp of whole milk

For the topping, you'll need:
  • 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 12 ounces good quality chewy caramels
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 8 oz chocolate (semisweet if using sweetened coconut, milk if using unsweetened)

To prepare cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt on low speed. Add in vanilla, and add in small quantities of milk until dough comes together without being sticky (you may not need all 2 tbsp of milk). Add in a bit of extra flour if the dough seems too sticky. Gather dough together into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll dough out onto a floured surface until it is just about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 1.5 to 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough. Make a smaller hole in the center (I use the end of a small, round piping tip). Lay cookies evenly on lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly golden brown around the edges. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To prepare the topping, preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a 12-inch tray with aluminum foil. Toast shredded coconut for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown, to release its flavor. Cool on a baking sheet, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, begin melting the caramels with the milk and salt. Stir continuously until the mixture is smooth. Remove pan from heat and stir in the cooled coconut.

Using a spatula or knife, spread the coconut-caramel mixture on top of the cooled cookies. If caramel begins to firm up, reheat until it is soft and spreadable once again.

While the topping sets up, melt the chocolate in a small bowl, either in the microwave or over the stove using the double-broiler method. Dip the base of each cookie into the melted chocolate and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate to a piping bag or ziplock bag with a corner snipped off, and drizzle the finished cookies with chocolate.

Store cookies in an airtight container. Cookies stay fresh for up to 3 days.

We made three batches and ended up with...hundreds of cookies. Literally. We still have so many left over, which I suppose is good news for all of our friends. Nevertheless, despite taking hours to make [6, to be precise], Noosh and I had a blast blowing off work to bake these.

And even though the competition didn't exactly end in my favor, I had an amazing time with Noosh, raising money for a good cause, tasting and critiquing other girls' desserts (because if you can't let your prissy, elitist, competitive side shine through during a bake-off, when can you?), and chatting with supportive friends who came by to visit and omnom.

And even though these weren't an "official" winner, these cookies are gold.

[Could be why I saved quite a few of the leftovers for myself, but you didn't hear that from me.]


  1. Boo for baking fads! You're a winner in my eyes!


Thanks so much for reading!
I'd love to hear your thoughts :)