Thursday, October 30, 2008

Homemade Samoas Cookies (Girl Scout Cookie Clone)

Homemade Samoas Cookies  (Girl Scout Cookie Clone)
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari

Please NOTE 
I don't want you to be disappointed.

If you are of the 'slice and bake' cookie mind, making these cookies might not be for you.   

This type of cookie does take time and a bit of effort.  Some may call them tedious to make ... I call them WORTH it. 

But that's just me.   :)  

You decide.

Cookies ~ Homemade Samoas

(also known as Caramel de-Lites)
Makes about 3 1/2 to 4 dozen

The cookies involve four steps: 
1. Make the cookie Base
2. Top with Caramel-Coconut mixture
3. Dip bottom of cookies in melted chocolate
4. Drizzle tops with melted chocolate

The Cookie (base):
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
up to 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, next, the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk only as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (you may not need any at all). The dough should come together into a soft, pliable ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough seems sticky.

It's easiest to roll the dough out in 2 or 3 batches (between pieces of wax (or parchment) paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or a little thinner) using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined (or on silicone mat) baking sheet and make a hole in the center. I used the small end of a large round piping tip. Nicole comments that you can use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat until the dough is used up (it's okay to re-roll, this dough is shortbread-like and very forgiving.)

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are very lightly golden brown around the edges.

Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, to allow them to firm up slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-ounces good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
8 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips will do)
(If you prefer milk chocolate, by all means use that.)

My notes: The caramel-coconut mixture is quite sweet, so I used Bittersweet chocolate to balance the sweetness bit.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (F)

Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Watch carefully, especially near the end of toasting time; the coconut toasts very quickly once it begins to become golden.

Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 teaspoons per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it begins to firm up, to make it soft and spreadable once again.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. (I melted mine stovetop using double boiler method.) Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper (I used silicone baking mats instead). Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate. (Melt a bit of additional chocolate, if there is not quite enough for each cookie.)

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Recipe credit: Nicole @ Baking 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mari's Signature Loaded Espresso-Grand Marnier Brownies

As shared by Once Upon a Plate by Mari

Several years ago I went about devising a recipe for brownies, here is what I came up with, and I consider them my signature brownies. I hope you enjoy!

Mari's Signature Loaded Espresso-Grand Marnier Brownies
Yields one 8 or 9-inch pan (I use a 9-inch pan with straight sides)

(12 to 16 brownies, depending upon how large you cut them)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened, and additional for pan
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I use Sharfen Berger Bitter Sweet)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier Liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, position race in center of oven.
Butter a 9-inch square baking pan, line the bottom with waxed or parchment paper, and also coat paper with butter. Set aside.

Combine butter and unsweetened chocolate in a large metal or glass bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted. Let it cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, Grand Marnier and eggs.
Whisk together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl, then add to the chocolate mixture, and stir until just combined (it's important not to overmix). Fold in the mini chocolate chips.

Pour into pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in center of pan should show a moist crumb.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from pan. Wet a large, sharp knife in warm water, wipe almost dry, cut into 12 to 16 squares, wipe knife blade and rinse in warm water & wipe almost dry after each cut.
Note: I always trim the edges of my brownies, and bar cookies, it just makes a neater presentation. Added bonus~ the trimmings are cook's treats. :)

Chocolate Icing:
4 cups Confectioner's Sugar (Powdered Sugar; 10x sugar), sifted
1/2 cup butter or margarine (I always use butter)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
6 tablespoons milk
Sift sugar into a large bowl. In small saucepan bring butter, cocoa, espresso powder and milk to a boil. Stir into sugar mixture; blend thoroughly. Place cut brownies on a rack in a rimmed baking sheet lined with waxed paper or plastic film. Ladle warm icing over each brownie. Leave plain, or decorate as desired. My English lavender is blooming right now, so I used tiny buds to decorate this time ~ I favor the purple on the chocolate background and since I'm an organic gardener, it's completely edible, too!

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