Samoa Sandwich Cookies With Coconut Milk Caramel
After a controversial poll on my Insta stories a few weeks ago regarding girl scout cookies, the majority of you voted that Samoa Cookies are the superior Girl Scout cookie over Thin Mints. Honestly, it was still pretty close, though! Personally, I don't really like Girl Scout cookies.... I am probably alone in this but there you go. I used to like them and I looked forward to my mom loading up on Thin Mints and the lemon shortbread ones every year when I was an actual girl scout, but like most nostalgic foods of our youth, they don't make 'em like they used to. To me, the chocolate coating on thin mints especially seems waxy and cheap, now. Like it never really melts. But that's not to say that a homemade version of any variety cannot vastly improve the situation. And so I did! Since I'm here to serve the people (you!), I wanted to re-create Samoas. Or did you call them Caramel deLites? Never understood that. I think the different names might be regional? Not sure.
When I thought about how I could make a twist on these, I thought: why not use coconut milk in place of cream on the actual caramel layer and really up the coconut flavor. Turns out it's pretty delicious. It does take a little longer to cook than classic caramel since the moisture content of coconut milk is higher than heavy cream but it's also pretty low maintenance. It just needs to bubble on low for a while to let it reduce and get thicker. I did test this recipe first with coconut cream and it did NOT work. I also wanted to try to use something you'd probably have easier access to, so I went with full-fat coconut milk instead. I also decided to make them into sandwich cookies because why have just one cookie when you can have two at once? Exactly. Dare I say, these are even better than the original? I'll let you be the judge but I think they might just be.
Samoa Sandwich Cookies with Coconut Milk Caramel
makes about 24 sandwich cookies
1 c unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 t vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
big pinch of Himalayan pink salt
coconut milk caramel
1 c organic cane sugar
2 13.5 oz cans full-fat coconut milk, preferably organic (my favorite is Trader Joe's)
1 t vanilla extract
pinch of Himalayan pinksalt
2 c plus 1/2 c unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
bittersweet chocolate, melted
make the cookies
Preheat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, a minute or two. Add in the vanilla and salt and mix to combine. Add in the flour and mix on low at first to avoid a floury mess then turn up to medium speed and mix just until all the flour has been mixed in and a dough has formed. Sprinkle powdered sugar on your work surface as well as a rolling pin and roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness, being sure to move the dough around on your work surface after each roll to ensure it's not sticking. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter (or a glass works too!) and cut out your cookies. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Allow to cool before assembling.
make the caramel
In a medium saucepan over medium-hight heat, combine the coconut milk and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved. As soon as it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and keep the caramel at a simmer and continue to cook until sauce has reduced by about half, about 30-40 minutes. The sauce should coat the back of a wooden spoon and when you run a finger through the sauce (let it cool on the spoon for a moment so as to not burn your finger!), the line should stay put on the spoon. Shut off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt to combine then add in 2 cups of the toasted coconut.
assemble the cookies
Working quickly, add about a tablespoon dollop of the caramel mixture to half the cookies using a small ice cream scoop (or two spoons) and top with a second cookie. The caramel and coconut mixture firms up fairly quickly so have all your cookies lined up and ready to be sandwiched. Drizzle the tops of the cookies with melted chocolate. I put mine in a pastry bag and snipped the tip to get even stripes but a fork dipped in the chocolate and drizzled over the cookies works just as well! Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut over the melted chocolate while still wet. Allow chocolate to harden then enjoy!