Please, Sir, Can I Have Samoa?

I deserve a treat. After spending the day with ten teen robotics competitors, I deserve a treat. (I no longer need a drink: we took care of that after the 10-hour competition day. I’m okay there.)

So I deserve a treat. One I can have without leaving the couch. Or my pajamas.

I want cookies. My favorites, though, are Samoas. You might know them as Caramel deLites. The Girl Scouts renamed them. Why, I can’t say, but I do know that I’d rather nosh on cookies named for a lovely, warm, sunny country than a stripper. (Gentlemen! On the center stage! Caramel deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeLite!)

But I digress. Sue me. It’s pajamas-on-the-couch day. My problem now is that the Girl Scouts, whose presence is ubiquitous at the entrance of grocery stores, do not deliver to my door.

Lucky that I plan ahead. In my fridge: a bag of shredded coconut and a carton of heavy cream. So I can make me some of them there cookies.

Really.

They’re nothing more than shortbread cookies with holes in them (Read: Jammy Windows tops!) covered with caramel, sprinkled with coconut, and drizzled with chocolate.

Easy-peasy.

So. Make up a batch of the Jammy Windows shortbread. Cut them ALL into rings, though, and bake them according to the recipe. (But only let the dough rest for an hour or two…this is a cookie emergency.)

While they’re chilling, toast up the coconut. Don’t be alarmed if an alcohol-y, piña-colada-y fragrance wafts tantalizingly from the oven. But keep those eyes on the prize. Burned coconut is no one’s treat. I used a sweetened variety, and so I checked it every two minutes. It browned all of a sudden, just like the good peeps at Bon Appétit warned on their website… Be warned.

Bake up the Jammy Windows rounds…let’s call them shortbread from now on, yes? No jam in these wonders.

Shortbread rounds

Wee lone stars in each. For Texas. Yee haw!

Whilst they cool, make a batch of caramel. I used Martha Stewart Classic Caramel Candies recipe, but only because Alton’s recipe had soy sauce in it. WTF and I’ll make that later.

Almost to the Firm Ball stage. Tee hee.

Almost to the Firm Ball stage. Tee hee.

Mix the toasted coconut into the caramel and let it sit until it reaches a thick, spreadable consistency.

(THIS IS WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG! See “THAT WAS THE PLAN” below.)

At this point, melt some chocolate and dip the bottoms of the cookies in it then put them on wax or parchment (or a silpat sheet) to set.

Spoon, pour, or spread a thin layer of the coconut/caramel mixture onto each of the shortbread rounds (Remember? We’re not calling them Jammy Windows any more. We decided that earlier. Check if you don’t believe me.) and place them on parchment paper or waxed paper (or silpat) to cool and set.

Once the caramel has set up nicely, melt some chocolate chips — semi-sweet, bitter-sweet, whatev. Drizzle horizontal lines across the cookies. Or just splatter them any which way. You’ve worked hard and waited enough.

Let the chocolate set up and then voilá! Tons of (much cheaper than the boxed variety) lovely, caramelly, coconutty, chocolaty, buttery fabulosity for your pajamas-on-the-couch day. Or breakfast. Again, whatev.

THAT WAS THE PLAN!!!

And it was a good plan. I was so confident in my plan that I wrote out the entire process before starting anything!

However. Pride goeth before and all that.

A combination of my new super-heating restaurant-quality pan and a less-than-accurate candy thermometer left me with a thicker, chewier coconut/caramel combo than is easily spread. So I spread it on as many cookies as I could…

It looks, well, Samoa-ish.

It looks, well, Samoa-ish.

…before it seized. Not wanting to throw it all out — it WAS tasty still — I began to roll it into small sticks. Creating something horrifying and wonderful all at the same time!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you (DRUM ROLL)…

COCONUT TURDS!!!!!

COCONUT TURDS!!!!!

Yes. Coconut Turds. Tasty, tasty turdy-looking hard caramel and coconut.

The stuff spread on the cookies hardened into crunchy, tasty disks that popped right off the cookies. So my teacher peeps will be getting plain, tasty, caramel- and coconut-less shortbread cookies tomorrow. Ah, well.

To conclude on a positive note: when you get the itch for some nostalgic, coconutty loveliness, make these cookies. But learn from my mistakes:

  • When you’re making that caramel, heat it ALMOST to the Firm Ball stage (BWAH HAH HAH!!!!) or risk crunchy coconut turd candies.
  • Call the properly make cookies whatever you want.
  • Save considerable money by making them instead of buying the Girl Scout version…then donate all those savings to the Girl Scouts. Win-win.

Now, back to the couch and the Samoas and some serious Netflixing.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

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Bakin’ Pixelation

So my wee niece — the wee one, not the wee-est one — is apparently in love with Minecraft. Which I don’t get. It smacks of an endless game of hide-and-seek where you hide from weirdly pixelated creatures while seeking weirdly pixelated gemstones in weirdly pixelated mines. Pixelated.

86px-BabyMooshroom

A MOOSHROOM a cow-mushroom hybrid from Minecraft. A pixelated one.

Cakes, however, and cookies and whatnot are things I do get. And the wee niece’s birthday turned out to be a time to attempt several challenges at once: cookie pops, marshmallow fondant, and carving and stacking cakes…to make a MINECRAFT cake. WOOT!

Time management tends to be my downfall, so this time I planned things out thusly:

DAY ONE:

My day to make the marshmallow fondant, which has to sit overnight and which turns out to be a tasty confection — much, much better than the fondant you’re thinking of — and happily easier than it would seem. I colored it as closely as I could with Minecraft colors, even leaving some streaks to provide a sort of — you guessed it — pixelation.

Pink and blue and green and brown and green and brown...

Pink and blue and green and brown and green and brown…

Use gloves. Seriously. Use gloves! I found a box of latex-free food grade gloves at a local restaurant supply company that is open to the public, and I highly recommend them. ( the gloves AND the restaurant supply!) Avoid fingers tinted an odd color that will spark stares and unwanted conversations.

I wanted to add as many (PIXELATED) cookie characters as I could. I eyeballed the Fat Daddio square cookie cutter set before realizing that it was an unneeded purchase. *SIGH*

Instead, I dug up the fabulous Sweetapolita cookie pop recipe and threw a buttery batch together and chilled it, then rolled it out and cut squares with my trusty pizza cutter. Huzzah for multi-taskers!

The tiny rectangles are for the pixelated piggy snouts.

The tiny rectangles are for the pixelated piggy snouts.

All baked up, these will keep until I’m ready to decorate them!

Then, make up a batch of Rice Krispie treats and press those suckers down flat so they can be cut into squares…to create pixelated peeps.

(and I’m done for day one!)

DAY TWO:

Cakes. Bake those suckers the day before so you can chill them. I looked for dense, tasty recipes, so of course I wandered over to my foodie crush, Alton Brown. I’ve had exceptional success with his trés leche cake, and I’ve been dying to try his devil’s food, so I was all set. Two batches of trés leche and one of the darkest, deepest, most decadent devil’s food EVAR.

All of these plus one in the oven!

All of these plus one in the oven!

You’ll need about a dozen eggs: five for each the trés leche and four for the devil’s food…but it’s worth it. Oh, yes. It’s worth it.

DAY THREE: Oh, the fun stuff!

Give those lovely cakes a crumb coat (I used a basic vanilla buttercream for both), roll out the fondants, cut them, and apply to cakes. Sculpt the Rice Krispie treats into trees and pigs and monsters and that Steve dude that apparently wanders about as pixelated as a daffodil.

These steps so consumed my day that I have no pictures of the process. But please enjoy this photo of a Minecraft pig:

Piggity.

Piggity.

The square cookies turned into piggies and creepers (these weird pixelated green things that explode. or something), but the tiny piggy nose cookies went away. Didn’t work. Best to draw the snout on with royal icing.

DAY FOUR:

BIRTHDAY PARTY DAY!

Rolled out the blue fondant for “water” pixels and threw everything into boxes and rushed cake to party site.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here they are:

Devil's Food on the left; Vanilla on the right

Devil’s Food on the left; Vanilla on the right… please to notice the “torches” in the “stone” on the DF cake.

Piggies and creepers!

Piggies and creepers!

A close-up in which you can see the (saddled) pig and Steve and a wee Minecraft "cake."

A close-up in which you can see the (saddled) pig and Steve and a wee Minecraft “cake.”

IMG_2241[1]

The DF Creeper cake…note the angled “torches,” please. And the pixelated water and…um…grass?

Well, that’s that. Awesome fun foodie adventure, plus fondant usage is finally under my belt. Plus, it’s good to be back online taking random foodie pics and accompanying them with dialogue…

What fresh, new (preferably unpixelated) challenge awaits, lurking on the horizon?

I mean, of course, other than catching up on grading…urk.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate