Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

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As much as I love spending time in the kitchen baking, there is one part of the process that I really detest. I hate going to the grocery store. I’ve hated grocery stores and grocery shopping all my life. My list of complaints could go on forever—from inadequate parking, to confusing store layouts and poor food selection—it seems as though the deck is always stacked against me when I walk through those sliding doors.

Given my grocery store-averse personality, I often plan my desserts around what ingredients I have at home. If a recipe requires only a few items that I don’t have, I’ll prioritize that recipe over one where I’d need to purchase more items. All this leads us to these delicious coconut macaroons. What inspired me to bake these cookies? I only needed two items from the grocery store—an obvious win in my book.

So let’s chat about these cookies a little bit. Coconut can be a pretty polarizing ingredient when it comes to desserts. If you aren’t a fan of coconut, steer clear of these little beauties. I brought these cookies into work this week for a baby shower. I usually do most of my baking on the weekend when I have more leisure time. When it comes to work-week baking projects, I’m always on the lookout for something that comes together rather quickly. These cookies take about 15 minutes of prep work and need about 15 minutes in the oven. It doesn’t get any easier!

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups melted semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, coconut and salt. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla using your hands until well blended. Use an ice cream scoop to drop dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about golf ball size.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until coconut is toasted. Once cooled, dip cookies in melted chocolate and cool completely on waxed paper.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
I chilled my mixture for 15 minutes before baking. This helps things firm up a little bit and produces a rounder shaped macaroon that is perfect for dipping in chocolate!

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Girl Scout Samoa Cookies

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It’s that time of year when you see Girl Scouts wearing their brown sashes wandering from door to door and setting up camp outside grocery stores. Multiple order forms float around offices in a subtle contest to get the most buyers. You guessed correctly, it’s the time of year for Girl Scout cookies! According to the Girl Scout website, February 8th is National Girl Scout Cookie Day.

There has been a cookie order form hanging up in our break room at work for the past 2+ weeks for Girl Scout cookies. Every morning when I’m heating up my oatmeal I stare at it, each afternoon when I’m warming up my soup I ponder getting a box. However, at $4.50 a pop, these cookies are anything but reasonable. Just as I was working up the courage to put my name down for a box of cookies… the flyer vanished, along with my hopes of getting a box of Samoas.

This week I got to thinking, Heather you’re a baker for goodness sakes. If the Girl Scouts of America can mass produce thousands of boxes of Samoas each year, surely this is something that you can tackle in your kitchen. After all I was a Girl Scout back in the day—Washington County troop 1848 to be precise. I started out as a brownie scout and progressed to a junior scout. I earned badges, camped out in the woods, and even sold cookies myself! Surely, I could handle a simple cookie recipe.

These little morsels sure are delicious, but they do require a bit of work. Since my kitchen isn’t the equivalent of a factory assembly line, the baking has to be done in stages. First make the shortbread, then add the coconut and caramel topping, and finally add the chocolate bottom and decorations on top. The end result was something better than I could have hoped for. It was better than the little purple box of Samoas that I’d grown to love.

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Girl Scout Samoa Cookies
Adapted from Just a Pinch

Cookie Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Topping Ingredients
3 cups shredded coconut
12 ounces chewy caramels
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon milk
8 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate

Directions
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

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. 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. 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.

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet 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 pot with salt and milk. Cook over low heat stirring frequently until caramel has melted. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 teaspoons per cookie.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat on the stove. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Working with the caramel and coconut mixture can get difficult if it begins to harden before you have coated all the cookies. If this happens, simply move the pan back to the stove on low heat for 2-3 minutes to allow the mixture to warm again.

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