most people don't realize i was a girl scout for a good chunk of my elementary school years. we had meetings at school in the evenings where we made candles out of wax and crayons and pencil holders for father's day out of popsicle sticks - all while my husband was learning how to start a fire from sticks and camping every weekend with boy scouts 1,500 miles away. don't get me wrong, i don't mean to knock girl scouts, i just hope they're focusing more on life skills rather than sleepovers and arts & crafts.
one thing i don't particularly remember is selling cookies. which is strange, since i'm sure both my sister and i did, since i remember eating them. back when peanut butter sandwiches were do-si-dos, shortbreads were trefoils, peanut butter patties were tagalongs, and caramel delites were samoas. so it's no surprise that every year, when someone's daughter is selling them, i stock up with four or five boxes. which is why it was such a disappointment last week when i opened my freezer and dug around for what i thought was one last box of samoas, to come up empty handed. so i did what any other person would do: made my own.
and while these don't have exactly the same nostalgia as a cookie from the box, they taste just as great.
cookie & caramel adapted from ina garten
1 hour, makes about 24 cookies
for the shortbread bottom:
3/4 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
for the caramel top:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or maldon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- make the shortbread bottom. cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. mix in the vanilla.
- in a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour and salt.
- add the flour & salt to the butter mixture. mix on low speed until it comes together into a dough. it will take a minute, but it will come together.
- roll into a log about 3 inches in diameter (roll it wider or skinnier depending on how big you want your cookies). roll the log in some wax paper.
- chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- preheat the oven to 350F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- slice the log into 1/4 inch slices. place the slices on the sheet pan. they don't spread much, so they can be pretty close together.
- bake for 10-13 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown.
- remove from the pan and cool to room temp.
- make the caramel while the shortbread cools. in a deep saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup. bring to a boil over medium high heat. boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. the darker the sugar at this stage, the darker your finished caramel will be.
- while the sugar mixture is coming to a boil, heat the cream and fleur de sel over medium heat until it simmers. turn off the heat and set aside.
- once the sugar mixture is golden brown, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture. the mixture will boil very vigorously when the cream is added, so be careful.
- stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium low heat until the mixture reaches about 240F on a candy thermometer.
- mix in the shredded coconut.
- top each cookie with a generous tablespoon of the caramel coconut mixture. let cool completely before serving and store in an airtight container.