Hooray, it’s Girl Scout cookie season! Is there no better time of year? The ushering in of springtime, adorable little girls in their Girl Scout uniforms,
harassing you asking you to buy some cookies as you walk into the grocery store. It’s wonderful. There seems to be quite a dividing line between people and their love of the top two Girl Scout cookie flavors, Samoas and Thin Mints — people always seem to prefer one over the other. I’ll generally devour anything containing coconut, and toasty coconut with caramel and chocolate is just a bonus.
During high school, when my sister and I were getting more into cooking, our mom would always marvel at how we’d be more inclined to bake a loaf of bread than to go buy one at the store. My reasoning behind this was that as long as I have the time, and I know how to do it myself, why would I need to buy a loaf of bread? The same could be said about these cookies.
I was very excited to make these in my own kitchen, and I’m glad I did it because they’re very good. However, I don’t know if I’d make them again unless I retooled the method a bit. I found the process verrrrrry tedious, and I’m not entirely sure how I’d change things if I make them in the future. I also came up with the method as I went, and it resulted in me not having enough caramel-coconut topping. Blast! I was about 1/3rd short on the amount I needed, so I’ve increased the recipe to reflect the extra 1/3rd being included. It should be enough to cover all the cookies, but thankfully it’s easy to just add more of the ingredients if it doesn’t yield the amount you need. Let’s get started!
(should yield about 45 cookies)
6 oz soft butter
1/2 cup (98 g) sugar
1/2 tsp (3 g) vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
1 3/4 cup (218 grams) all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grab two sheet pans and line them with parchment, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle, cream the softened butter, sugar, vanilla and salt on medium for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle and beat again on high for one minute. Dump in all the flour into the mixer bowl at one time, and mix on low speed for about one minute. The dough will start to come together but it will still be pretty crumbly. Scrape down the bowl and paddle again and mix on low speed for 10-15 seconds more, just until it’s all combined.
Scrape the dough out of the bowl and place on a well-floured rolling surface (a Silpat works great if you have one, or a large cutting board or even a piece of parchment paper). Pat out the dough into a rectangle that’s about 1 inch thick, and sprinkle the top with flour so the rolling pin won’t stick when you roll out the cookies. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out so that it’s about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, trying to keep the dough in as much of a rectangle as possible. Using a round 2 inch cutter, stamp out as many cookies as you can get from the rectangle of dough. After the rounds are cut, take a 3/4 inch round cutter (or the back of a round pastry tip, like I did!) and stamp out the centers of each round cookie.
Place the cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan about 1/2 inch apart. If the cookies start sticking to the rolling surface, use a butter knife or a small offset spatula to help you lift them off. Once you have a full pan, set it aside and grab your second sheet pan. Gather up the scraps of dough once you’ve stamped out the whole rectangle, and re-flour your rolling surface. Pat out and roll out the dough once more, and stamp out as many more cookies as you can get out of it. Feel free to gather up the scraps and roll them out once more. Place the cookies on the second pan and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until all the cookies are light golden brown. This recipe yielded about 45 cookies for me, but you may get more or less depending on how evenly they’re rolled out.
When the cookies are done, let them cool on a wire rack while you’re making the caramel layer! Leave the oven set to 350 so you can toast the coconut.
53 individually wrapped chewy caramel candies (371 grams/13 oz by weight)
6 Tbs (72 g) milk
2 2/3 cup (124 g) unsweetened coconut threads (I bought mine at Sprouts. I’m sure you can substitute the same weight of regular sweetened flaked coconut if that’s all you have)
1/2 tsp coconut extract (optional! I just like lots of coconut flavor, even if this smells more like sunscreen than real coconut)
8 oz Wilton brand Dark Cocoa candy melts
In a bowl set over a double boiler, combine the caramel candies, milk and optional coconut extract. Let them melt on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the candies are fully melted, turn the heat to low to keep the candy fluid.
On one of the sheet pans you baked the cookies on, scatter the coconut in an even layer and bake at 350 for 3 minutes. Take out of the oven and stir around, and place back in the oven for 5 minutes more. Once the coconut is fully golden brown, take out and let cool for a few minutes. Break up the toasted coconut by hand so that the pieces are quite small. Stir the coconut into the hot caramel and leave on low heat in the double boiler while you melt the chocolate.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate pieces for a total of 1 1/2 minutes, stirring after every 30 seconds until fully melted. If the chocolate isn’t fully melted at the end of 1 1/2 minutes, keep stirring and the residual heat of the bowl should take care of the rest. In a small bowl, set aside 3 ounces of the melted chocolate to drizzle on the finished cookies.
Now, let’s dip the cookies! Take a cookie and drop it bottom-side down into the bowl of the melted chocolate. Tap on the cookie so that it’s submerged to the edges, and carefully lift the cookie out of the chocolate, dragging the bottom of the cookie lightly over the edge of the bowl to get rid of excess chocolate. On parchment-lined pans, set the cookies with the chocolate side down, in as straight of rows as possible.
Make sure the coconut caramel is still very loose and warm, reheating on medium-high for a while if it’s not hot enough. On top of each cookie, spread out 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the caramel mixture. This was the most tedious part for me! I was ready to give up but I knew the end result would be too tasty to quit now. So, I pressed on. I used a regular flatware spoon, and eyeballed the amount of caramel for each cookie, pushing it off of the spoon with my fingers and spreading it onto each cookie by hand. If the coconut caramel firms up, turn up the heat on the double boiler and stir until it’s smooth and loose again.
Once all the cookies are covered in coconut caramel, fashion a paper cone (learn how here!) and pour in your reserved 3 ounces of melted chocolate, reheating briefly in the microwave if it’s solidified again. Snip off about 1/8 inch of the bottom of the bag of chocolate, and pipe stripes of chocolate across each row of cookies, 4 parallel stripes per row — you gotta have the trademark 4 stripes of chocolate like the originals! Once you’ve gotten the stripes piped onto the cookies, put the pans of the cookies into the fridge or freezer until fully set up.
These cookies will keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for 5-7 days or so, and I assume they’d also be fine at room temperature for the same length of time. It’s so easy to scarf down these little cookies, that you may not have many left to keep after all is said and done. I recommend sharing them with a friend in order to prevent yourself from gorging yourself on all these coconut-packed beauties!