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

The Stink of Success

Recently, Nikki T. shared with me information about a product she found called PB2. Dehydrated roasted peanuts. Yum, right? 85% less fat than ordinary, hydrated ones. Oh, YUM. Low-fat foods are always so AMAZING. (end sarcasm here…)

Yick.

But part of me was intrigued. Especially when I checked it out online. People raved about the stuff. It wasn’t, however, easily obtained anywhere near me, and peanut powder didn’t possess the persuasive powers necessary to compel me to purchase it through the internet. And I thought that was the end of it.

Until I visited my local HEB and found this on the end of an aisle:

So I brought some home.

It’s been sitting on the counter for a while now, waiting for me to hit the appropriate combination of inspiration and desperation for something peanutty. That perfect storm hit today.

I hit the internet and found on the PB2 website some recipes, settling on Chewy PB2 Cookies. Looked easy enough. And 50 calories each? Oh, SO worth the effort. I hoped…

So. Mixed up all the drys in a bowl. The PB2 was aromatic and roasty smelling. Nice…but there was something lurking. An aftersmell that I couldn’t place. But not bad…

Dried, roasty, peanutty powder chunks.

Then with the wets…

Looking peanut butterier…

Still nice. Thick and sticky…and that aftersmell got a bit stronger. Still not bad. Still couldn’t place it, though. After adding the flour, things didn’t gel…had to spritz in more water. And more…

Finally, a dough appeared. But it was sticky. STICKY. Stickier than just regular peanut butter. I tried to do the cute and ubiquitous criss-cross fork pattern in one and got this:

No cute criss-cross here.

After several sticky failures, I sprayed up the fork with some cooking oil and got what I was looking for…sort of.

Crissed and crossed and shiny slick

Chucked them in the oven for ten minutes, and that aftersmell grew. It blossomed and floated about and finally I realized it. Chickpeas. There’s a definite dried, cooking chickpea-ish aroma in this stuff. Not unpleasant, but not what you’re looking for in cookies.

Out of the oven, they were pretty and puffy.

Fluffy and puffy. Don’t poke them…

I couldn’t shift them off the Silpat for about thirty minutes. Just too puffy and delicate. Poked one to test it and it deflated.

When cooled, they were…okay. A bit crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with a nice texture and tasty, roasty, peanutty flavor. Passable for peanut butter cookies. Pretty amazing for low-fat peanut butter cookies, though. So a success!

Not sure where to go now.

Peanut butter frosting? Oh. Yeah.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

The Shortbread Trials

I’m a sick, sick girl

I just analyzed a gazillion different shortbread recipes that I harvested off the internet to figure out the average ratio of ingredients and the average time/temp combo.

Sick.

All this because of a conversation with Nikki T regarding the quaint custom of the Cookie Table. Apparently, at Pennsylvanian weddings, one comes across tables full of multitudes of cookies and cookies and cookies. And cookies. Such glories!

I mean, in the South, we’ve got the groom’s cake, which is usually some sort of chocolate or Devil’s food…go figure. I’ve come across candy tables on Pinterest, but they seem more child-centered. Nothing like a table full of cookies. A veritable cookie banquet. (hee. very-TABLE.) I felt like Veruca Salt just pondering it – except I wanted that cookie feast, not the stupid bean feast she sang about. What’s up with a bean feast, Veruca, you freak?

So I felt compelled to contribute to the aforementioned Cookie Table. The percolation began. And ended quite quickly. Since declaring myself the Jammy Genius of our little group and Queen of all Canning (except the realm of blackberries, in which even mediocrity eludes me) and being flush with the CrackJam and the lovely nectar that is my Ginger-Lemon-Fig concoction, of course logic dictated that I should craft up some cookies with jam! On shortbread! Mixed with orange zest!

Yes. And there my search began for the optimum shortbread ingredient ratio. On a spreadsheet. On my computer. With actual calculations and removing recipes with anomalous ingredients. In the words of the Great Kate, Golly Moses!

Turns out the ingredient ratios for shortbread are within normal ranges across the board. The times and temps, however? Geez. Anywhere from 300˚ to 375˚* for anywhere from eight to 25 minutes. Which would yield me the perfect buttery soft cookie that was crisp enough to hold that lovely jam? How could I tell without tedious trial and error? So began the Shortbread Time Trials (with lime zest, since that was the only citrus in the house):

                     

Like an OCD Goldilocks, I kept searching for the best combination. Too soft but oily? No. Good texture, but too soft to hold its shape? No. Crispy? No. Just…no. Until I found the JUST RIGHT combo.

Best temp/time for making shortbread for plain old munching accompanied by a glass of cold milk or a cuppa Earl Grey? 325˚ for 12-14 minutes. Best temp/time for making jammy windows? 325˚ for 18-20 minutes. In my opinion, the 350˚ trials proved too crispy-crunchy for me. Not a fan. If you’re all about the crispity cookie though, 14-18 minutes at 350˚ seems to be the optimum cook time.

I’ll post some pics actual Jammy Windows when I make them for reals…

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

*BTW, that’s Fahrenheit, y’all. I figured you’d understand that without me saying because I’m located in Texas and, well, baking cookies at 325˚ CELSIUS would be cray-cray fer totes. We want cookies, not charcoal.