Saturday, February 26, 2011

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies

Who out there misses Girl Scout Cookies?  Samoas, anyone?  You might not have to miss them quite as much if you make these.  They're not spot on, but they are - shall we say - reminiscent.  If you don't compare them directly to the gooey coconut-y fudgey deliciousness of Samoas, you'll probably like them even more.  Lose the comparison entirely and they become decadent.

I was lucky enough to host a friend of mine over the weekend, a friend who is scarily similar to me in many ways.  One thing we share is a love of baking, and we spent much of her visit in my kitchen, chatting endlessly as we made one delicious thing after another.  On the first day of her visit, we walked past a little cluster of hopeful Girl Scouts  in the Harvard subway station.  They were standing in front of huge stacks of cookie boxes, trying their best sales pitches/pleas on the passing commuters.  While we didn't buy any for obvious gluten reasons, they inspired us to try making Girl Scout cookies on our own at home.  After all, how hard could it be?

Not very hard, really - and fun!  All it takes is a good cookie base - we used shortbread, but feel free to try any other vanilla cookie base that you think would work - and then it's just a matter of the coconut cream and chocolate.  Easy to assemble, and despite being shortbread (aka butter-based), ended up tasting quite light and airy when all was said and done.  The shortbread base did become slightly crumbly, making the process of eating them a little messy.  There are two ways to remedy that.  You could use a different base, one that is more like a regular cookie, which will be softer and chewier.  Or - you can avoid crumbs by eating the entire cookie at once.  The choice is yours.  But if you're looking for a Samoa fix, these are the cookies for you.

Gluten-free Samoa Girl Scout Cookies

For the shortbread:

1/3 cup brown rice flour 
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tbsp. tapioca starch
3/4 cup, or 1.5 sticks, Fleischmann's baking margarine or Earth Balance "Butter"
Sweet rice flour for dusting

For the coconut cream and chocolate drizzle:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp. coconut oil (can substitute Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
1/2 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup shredded coconut + 2 tbsp. for sprinkling over cookies
1/4 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
3 oz. Trader Joe's Pound Plus Dark Chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 300 F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric hand mixer (if you don't have one, just do the best you can by hand), cream the butter until it is very smooth.  Slowly beat in the dry ingredients bit by bit until they are well mixed.  Using your hands, gather the dough into a big ball, kneading any uneven parts as necessary.

Break off the dough by tablespoonful and roll into balls.  Place them on the parchment paper and, after dusting with the sweet rice flour to keep from sticking, flatten with the bottom of a cup or a fork or spoon. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes, until they are firm to the touch, but not yet browned.  Remove from oven and let sit on the hot cookie sheets for another 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

In the meantime, prepare the coconut cream.  Melt the sugar and coconut oil together into a small pot and toast them together for about 1 - 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning/sticking.  Add the coconut milk and vanilla and stir well.  Simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced a bit and has become slightly thicker.  Add the shredded coconut and salt and stir in well.  Continue to cook for another 2 - 3 minutes, or until it has thickened more.  Remove from the pot into a bowl.  Let cool for a few minutes, then add the powdered sugar (which will help thicken it even more).  If yours still isn't very thick, you can try adding a bit of extra cornstarch as well.  Continue to cool.

In a regular nonstick pot, melt the chocolate over low heat. (If you have a double boiler, go ahead and use that!)  You could also microwave the chocolate in increments of 15 seconds if you prefer to avoid pots altogether.  Once it is melted, place it in a small baggie.  When you're ready to use it, cut a small hole at one of the corners to drizzle it over the cookies.

When the cookies have cooled, spread a layer of the cooled coconut cream on top, then drizzle chocolate over the coconut cream to your heart's content.  If desired, sprinkle some extra coconut flakes over the cookies before the toppings dry.  You can eat them right away, but the icing will still be slightly melty, so it works better to refrigerate them for a few hours before you serve them.

These can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.  If they last that long.


Unknown said...

Yum! I miss sharing a kitchen :)

Claire Berman said...

Me too, friend! You are welcome to come share my kitchen anytime :)

Gail for So Delicious Dairy Free said...

Hi Claire! This recipe looks fantastic, and I couldn't wait to share it with our more than 25,000 facebook fans and tweet it to our 8,400+ followers! Many of our fans follow dairy-free, gluten-free, and/or vegan diets and they are really going to appreciate and enjoy these scrumptious-looking cookies! Thank you very much for helping make life so delicious!

Anonymous said...

I thought Trader Joes Pound Plus chocolates were made on shared equipment (with wheat). I do love their chocolate.

Lisa said...

In case you weren't already sucked in by the photograph and descriptions of these beauties, I was that friend in the kitchen. These are perhaps better than the GS version (what blasphemy!). Or amazing in their own way, without the affiliation with Samoas.

Bottom line: I was given some to take home with me and they never made it to my front door.

Claire Berman said...

Gail - Thanks so much for the Facebook post and tweet!! So Delicious has been a fantastic ingredient to use in dairy-free baking, and I'm glad that more of your fans will enjoy these cookies.

Regarding Trader Joe's chocolate - it is manufactured on shared equipment, but the guide to gluten-free products states, "Our suppliers follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s) to segregate ingredients on shared
equipment and/or in the facility." (You can download the guide on TJs' website.) I feel comfortable using it and have not had any problems, but it's definitely up to each person to decide how they feel about using products labeled in this way. You could always substitute Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate, which is completely allergen-free, or another dark chocolate which is gluten-free. Thanks for the comment, and hope you are able to find a way to make these! :)

Renae said...

I'm so eager to make these. I've had the hardest time avoiding the temptation of those decadent GS cookies. Knowing I have this option makes all the difference!

Laura Cunard said...

Another comment regarding Trader Joe's products with the "Good Manufacturing Practices" disclaimer on the back:

As a REALLY REALLY sensitive gluten intolerant, I often have problems with products if they DON'T have this on the label (even if all ingredients are gf). If they DO state they have "gmp's", I have always been fine. I have come to trust and rely upon TJ's (and Fred Meyer Grocers) for almost all my food.