We’re right in the middle of Girl Scout cookie time, which is normally one of my favorite times of year becuase honestly, even though they’re horrible for you, those cookies are pretty addictive. But now that I know how disastrous palm oil (which is used heavily in Girl Scout cookies) is for orangutans (more information about that here, and a quick google search yields MANY more links), I think I’ll stick with making my own from scratch and just donate directly to local troops.
Fortunately, there are a lot of fantastic recipes floating around, and I could not pass up the chance to make Samoas (my absolute favorite Girl Scout cookie variety). With real butter shortbread, toasted coconut tossed with caramel, and a drizzle of chocolate, these might be even better than the real thing. I sent most of them to work with Mike and they disappeared before the afternoon.
The one drawback to these is that they are pretty time consuming. It was kind of frustrating trying to spread the caramel coconut mixture onto the shortbread, and I ended up dipping my fingers in cold water and pressing it on rather than using a knife. It worked really well. On a normal weekday I would never go to such laborous lengths to make cookies, but I had all last week off, so when I wasn’t lazing on the couch (which admittedly wasn’t that often), I was in the kitchen. It was a nice, relaxing week but I realized by about Tuesday afternoon that being a stay at home wife would make me go INSANE. I am so ready to be back at work!
The weekend was a LOT more active than the week. We tried a new macaroni and cheese restaurant in Oakland called Homeroom (400 40th Ave, Oakland). I started reading Local Lemons while we were in Korea, because it made me feel connected to California (which I missed like crazy). When Allison started writing about opening a mac and cheese restaurant I knew I wanted to try it as soon as it was up and running.
Homeroom has now been open for about 2 weeks. I absolutely loved the feel of the place, with paper menus that have directions for folding them into paper airplanes, a vintage lunchbox holding the menus, and a huge chalkboard showing where in California a lot of their ingredients come from. Another awesome touch? The menu recommends beers to go with each variety of mac and cheese!
I got the Classic, with buttery baked breadcrumbs on top. It was creamy and PERFECT in every way, especially after I drenched it with hot sauce. I also got a side salad, and the citrus dressing was the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Normally I am not a fan of lettuce-only salads but the dressing completely made up for the lack of other vegetables or add-ins. Because my portion size ended up being a little on the small side, they brought me a free brownie, which was perfectly fudgy without being overly heavy. Magical.
Mike got the Mexican Mac with jack cheese, chorizo, chipotle, cilantro, and lime. He loved it. Our only complaint was that the service was REALLY slow and they forgot Mike’s beer…but I’m sure they’re still just working out the kinks because they haven’t been open for long. I want to go back soon and try a couple other varieties (and probably some other desserts…)
Sooo there’s your unhealthy dose of goodness for this beautiful Monday. All things are fine in moderation, right?
(from Baking Bites)
makes about 30 cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tbsp milk
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp whole milk milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
To make the cookies: Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and mix well.
Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl, then add to the butter mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add 1 to 2 tbsp milk – as much as you need to get the dough to hold together without being sticky.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to about 1/4″ thick.
Cut into 1-1/2″ to 2″ circles and transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet. Using a straw, remove the center of the dough and move the straw around a little bit to widen the circle slightly.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until no longer doughy. Cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
To make the topping:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle the coconut evenly in the pan. Toast in a 350 F oven stirring every two minutes, until golden brown brown. Remove from the oven to cool.
Combine the salt, milk and caramels in a medium saucepan. Cook over low, stirring frequently until smooth. Stir in the coconut.
Spread a tsp or two of coconut mixture on each cookie and set aside.
Melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. Cool slightly, then scoop into a ziploc bag and cut off a tiny bit of the corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the cookies and let it set. Store in an airtight container.