So do they taste like authentic Samoa cookies? Um, well, I couldn’t tell you … I’ve never actually had a Girl Scout Caramel deLite cookie. But, I can tell you that they taste really darn good …
Since I’d never tried Samoas, I needed a girl scout cookie recipe model to work from. However, I was surprised how few recipes I found for this cookie, and how so many of them weren’t true to form. I found bar versions that didn’t even have a chocolate base (how could I deny you of an extra chocolate layer?), I found recipes that were void of the shortbread base (true, I would have been happy without the shortbread, but I know how you all love it), and in Vegan Cookies, she skips the caramel topping altogether (a bit sacrilegious don’t you think?).
I did my best to stay loyal to the original cookie, but of course had to change up the recipe a bit to make it dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan. Okay, okay, I skipped the hole in the middle too.
I mean, that’s a little nit-picky don’t you think? And you get more per cookie with my simple round version. If you must, use a straw or some other small circular instrument and painstakingly remove a hole from the center of the fragile shortbread dough. But when you start cursing like a sailor, don’t say I didn’t offer an easier solution!
This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and I suppose you could make it Gluten-Free by using your favorite GF flour blend in place of the plain flour.
Shortbread Cookies (Adapted from Baking Bites)
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the margarine, milk alternative, sugar, and vanilla, until creamy. Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder, and the salt, and mix until well combined. Add in up to 1/4 cup of additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Roll or pat the dough out on a floured surface until it is 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Using a 1-1/4-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut the cookies out and move to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. I actually (gently) cut the cookie dough right on my silicon baking mat, since the cookie dough can be hard to move.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they just begin to brown around the edges. Let cool while you prepare the caramel topping.
Caramel-Coconut Topping (Adapted from the Dulce de Coco recipe in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook)
Combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer or low boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Keep an eye to be sure it doesn’t threaten to boil over. Uncover and continue to let it slowly boil / simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should become somewhat thick, like a caramel sauce … but keep in mind, it will thicken more as it cools and when you add all of that coconut!
Remove the caramel mixture from the heat, and stir in the vanilla, followed by the coconut. I used all of the coconut, which made it very thick, and almost dough-like to handle.
Top each shortbread cookie with the caramel-coconut mixture. I use it all up, making a fairly thick layer of topping. My topping was thick, so I wet my hands (to prevent sticking) and pressed it down to evenly cover the tops of the shortbread.
Melt the chocolate chips with the coconut oil, if using. I place them in a bowl and put them in the microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir vigorously until smooth. You may need more or less time in the microwave … just make sure you do not overheat the chocolate … it burns easily.
Dip the shortbread bases in the chocolate. You can either coat just the bottoms, or submerge up to the caramel layer. I tried both, the submerged picture is above, and the “just coated” version is below …
Place them chocolate side down on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to firm up. Then, somehow drizzle the tops of the cookies (over the caramel layer) with chocolate. I’ve read that you can do this with a fork … but that didn’t work for me. For the pretties results, piping the chocolate on would work best. I just sort of drizzled it on.
Let the cookies sit in a cool area so that the chocolate can set up. Usually this will happen at room temperature, but my husband had our heat set on “melt chocolate” that day (15 degrees outside, well over 70 degrees inside), so I placed them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
Makes 2 dozen cookies