I'll Have Samoa Those!!!

Clever and original title.  Yes?  Okay, no, but these bars might have you turning those little Girl Scouts away later this year.  Who am I kidding?  Those girls are too sweet to pass up on their cookies, but as soon as the boxes hit $10, I'm out!  Nowadays you can find many recipes that pay homage to our favorite yearly treat, and Samoas happen to be a family favorite.  Growing up, these and Thin Mints were a fixture in my house for a week, because let's be honest, a sleeve of Thin Mints can be inhaled in minutes if you aren't paying attention.  So I hope you enjoy my adaptation of Samoas via inspiration through Baking Bites.

Samoa Cookie Bars

1 pouch Sugar Cookie Mix
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 egg

Coconut-Caramel Topping:
12 oz. pre-wrapped caramels
3 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
3 c. coconut, toasted

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate for coating and drizzling

-Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Coat 9x13 pan well with non-stick cooking spray.  Blend sugar cookie mix, butter, and egg with hand or stand mixer until ingredients are combined well and dough forms.  Press dough down evenly in pan, prick dough all over with fork.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven, slide a sharp knife between the dough and pan, let cool completely on wire rack.

-Melt 10 oz. of chocolate using a double boiler or microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 30 second intervals until smooth.

-Cut cooled cookie base, width wise, down the middle (this helps base from breaking when removing from pan).  Again, loosen the dough around the sides of the pan.  Turn pan upside down onto parchment paper and let cookie base fall onto paper.  Spread melted chocolate evenly over the bottom of the base.  Let chocolate cool and harden, this process can be sped up in fridge.

-Turn oven temperature down to 300 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread coconut.  Toast coconut for approx. 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to toast evenly.

-In a microwave-safe bowl, combine caramels, milk, and salt.  Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping a couple times to stir.  Once caramel is melted, stir until smooth, fold in coconut.  Spoon coconut-caramel mix evenly on top of cookie base.  Gently press down onto cookie base.  Let the cookie bars cool completely before cutting.

-Cut cookies into squares.  I was able to get 24 squares.  Melt remaining 2 oz of chocolate and drizzle over each individual bar.

My sidenotes:
-To coat my baking pan, I use a cooking spray that contains flour.  I prefer the Pam brand.
-Dampening my hands to evenly spread dough into pan and the coconut-topping prevents the headache of having to deal with 'stuff' sticking to utensils.
-If you can find desiccated coconut, use that for authentic Samoa cookie texture.  You can use regular coconut, they will still be yummy!  Or, take regular coconut and grind into smaller pieces in a food processor.
-Make sure you really keep an eye on your coconut as it toasts; it can go from golden to burnt in seconds!  Trust me, I ruined my first batch.
-Before cutting my bars, I lightly sprayed my knife blade with non-stick cooking spray to keep the caramel mix from sticking.  You may not need to do this, but clearly I don't like things sticking and go to paranoid measures to prevent it!
-If you don't want to chance removing the whole cookie base and spreading it with chocolate, then skip that step.  After you cut cookie bars, melt the chocolate, and individually dip the bottom of the cookies into chocolate.

I hope I didn't make these sound difficult!  They are not!  But it is a longer process because you have to let each step cool before you can move to the next step.  I'm not a patient person, but the wait is worth it. I really am getting a kick out of these treats.  HAHA Girl Scouts!  I've made something that tastes like your expensive little cookies and I don't have to wait an entire year before I can get them again!  But don't worry, I'll still be waiting for your Thin Mints.

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