Thanksgiving Prep and Home-Made Samoas

T'was the week of Thanksgiving, and all through the house, not a thing was ready, not even this louse. Hey man- get off me. I just made that up on the spot.

Thanksgiving was my favorite childhood holiday. You didn't have to go to church- all you did was chill at home and eat with the family. The kids would run around avoiding parents while delicious aromas wafted down the stairs. We were all thinking about the same thing.... for we did not revere the turkey- not in this house! We all had our eye one thing: mom's stuffing.

Subtle heat. Warm and soft. Melt in your mouth. Delicious warm or cold. Red and yellow peppers. Giblets. Bread crumbs. Portuguese sausage. Crushed red pepper. Screw everything else on the table! Now... I cannot give you this recipe just yet. There is no measurements. My goal is to document the thing without getting kicked out of the way.

My contribution this year will be these Sweet Potato Bars. I have had my eye on this bad boys for a minute. I am still debating about making the good ol' fashioned pumpkin pie or being different with the heavenly pumpkin cheesecake. Decisions... decisions...

All I know is I'm grateful to have a decision to even make. I am truly blessed and take none of it and noone for granted.

In the meanwhile, these Home-Made Samoa cookies will have to tie us over. The base of the cookie is a simple sweet shortbread, kind of like the Napolitaine. Then it's coated with warm, thick caramel, toasted coconut, and dark chocolate drizzle. These do not taste just like the one's you pick up from those mean muggin Girl Scouts but they're pretty darn close... and sweet. Too sweet for me! But I seemed to be the only one complaining.

Note: these are fairly time consuming to make just because of all the toppings. Oh, and you be the judge on sweetened vs. unsweetened coconut. I used sweetened because after being toasted, they were not super sweet. I also used the darkest chocolate I could find. However, my friends would not stop eating the toasted coconut by itself. I actually packed the leftover in ziplock bags!

Makes about 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies and they are approved by Young Choi.

Homemade Samoas
by Baking Bites

1 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 2 tbsp milk

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
8 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350F.

For the cookie... in a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.

Roll the dough (working in two or three batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat with remaining dough. I got lazy and stopped making holes, hehe...

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the topping... Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. I... didn't see that and sprinkled them on top. DOH!

Using the spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper, dry side facing up.

Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.