Girl Scout Caramel Delights

This might not come as a surprise to any of you who know me, but I am very competitive. Both with other people, and with myself. So when I was challenged at work to make some Caramel Delight Girl Scout cookies it was game on. My two challengers travel during the week so this meant I had to bring in the cookies on a Friday, adding to the challenge since these take quite some time and effort to make. It’s too bad I don’t have photo albums readily available today because I have some pretty good shots of me rocking my girl scout vest in my younger days. My mom was my troop leader and I was definitely very competitive when it came to cookie selling time. And Samoas (now called Caramel Delights) were hands down my favorite cookies and still are to this day.

To give you a better idea of just what kind of Girl Scout troop I was a part of, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to our first camping experience. I’m going to say it was probably in third or fourth grade that we were taking a camping trip at some compound with several other troops from Connecticut. When we got there, most of the other troops were making homemade soup and dinners from scratch. One of our troop leaders showed up with boxes of pizza. That’s my kind of camping.

Back to the cookies. These cookies took several hours to make. Partly because there are so many steps, but mostly because I took this challenge very seriously and was trying to win the taste test on both looks and taste. If you’re going to make these, I recommend making the dough a day in advance to save some time. I found this recipe on BakingBites.com. They also have an alternate version which I recommend where you make these into bars in a 13×9 pan.

Ingredients:

Shortbread dough:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp half-and-half or milk

Topping:

  • 3 cups shredded coconut
  • 12-oz caramels
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp half and half, or milk
  • 8 oz.  semisweet chocolate

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt and then mix into the wet ingredients.

Step 2: Add in the vanilla and the milk. Beat on a low speed until the dough comes together and is not too sticky. I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight. If you are baking these same day, I recommend chilling the dough for at least an hour to make it easier to work with.

Step 3: Separate the dough into two or three sections to make it easier to roll smaller amounts. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Use a circular cookie cutter to make cookie rounds. Place the cookies onto a parchment or sil-pat lined baking sheet. Because I’m competitive, I bought $20 worth of cookie cutters to make sure I got the size just right.

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Step 4: If you are trying to really get these to look like the Girl Scout version, take a straw and cut a small hole in the center of teh cookie.

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Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool while you make the topping.

Step 6: To make the topping, spread 3 cups of coconut on a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet and toast for about 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Every 5 minutes I took the coconut out and spread it around with a spatula to make sure nothing burnt. Once the coconut is golden, let it cool on a baking sheet.

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Step 7: Place the caramels in a large bowl with the cream and salt and microwave for 3-4 minutes. It is very important to take the caramel out every 30 seconds to stir to make sure it does not burn and clump. Once the caramel is smooth, fold in the toasted coconut.

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Step 8: Using a small spoon, spread the coconut topping on top of the cooled cookies. I tried using a spatula to spread it around evenly on the cookie, but it’s hard to work with, so I ended up spraying my fingers with non-stick spray and pressing the caramel down.

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Step 9: Melt the chocolate in a small bowl stirring every 30 seconds. Once you burn chocolate there is no fixing it, so just take it slow. Without burning off your fingers, dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place it back on the cooling rack upside down. I ended up putting each tray in the freezer for about 20 minutes after this step.

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Step 10: Take the remaining melted chocolate (I had to melt a little more) and put into a small plastic bag and cut off the tip. Use this to drizzle on stripes of chocolate on top of the coconut. Let the chocolate set completely.

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So the taste test challenge happened Friday morning at 9am. My coworker Ned had purchased a box of Caramel Delights and his office-mate Lauren were the two main taste testers. We had to do this at 9am to make sure we had cleansed palates since this was the real deal. Based on the thumbs up I got, I think we can say I dominated this challenge and the Girl Scouts better watch out. I’m pretty happy with the way these turned out. I could probably eat an entire box of these because that salted caramel topping is the best part. They are incredibly time consuming, so if I was going to make these again I would do them in bar form in a 13×9 pan.

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I told my Grandpa about these the other night when I made them. Then I got this guilt-trip picture texted to me by my mom on Friday. I think I owe this guy a care package of cookies soon.

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