It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!
I am guilty of peddling cases of those cookies all those years ago. I only made it as far as a Junior Girl Scout, as there were no troops for my age group in my area past the 6th grade. I still support the GSA at Cookie Time, though I usually do it in the form of a donation rather than buying a box of cookies that I won’t eat. Not because they aren’t delicious, but because I am a dedicated vegan.
As a vegan, there were no varieties that I could eat, up until recently. There was news on the radio the other day that Thin Mints are now vegan (!) I knew that there are only two companies in the US that make Girl Scout cookies, and one of them was proactive and offered several vegan varieties. Of course, that was the company that wasn’t the distributor in my area 😦 Now the other company has come on board and offer my favorite cookie, the Thin Mint , as a vegan option. (YAY!)
So now I can go track down a local troop selling cookies in my area . (There’s an app for that BTW) to buy some Thin Mints. The other varieties , sadly are not yet vegan.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t make my own (I could make Thin Mints too, but I want to support the Girl Scouts so while they are available and vegan, I will do that). Because it is Girl Scout Cookie Time, this entry is dedicated to the Samoa, the chocolatey, caramelized coconutty shortbread-like cookie that you can’t eat just one of. I made batch of these and took them into work and they were gone in a flash. (Yes, there were THAT good!)
There are several steps, but none are too difficult. They don’t even take all that long to make.
For the cookie:
2 c unsweetened coconut chips, lightly toasted
1/2 c unrefined coconut oil
2 TBSP vegan margarine
¾ c brown sugar
1/3 c nondairy milk
1 TBSP ground flax seeds
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c unbleached flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
For the caramel:
1 TBSP vegan margarine
1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ c brown rice syrup
1-14 oz can of full-fat coconut milk
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp tapioca starch/flour, dissolved in 2 TBSP water or coconut milk
For the chocolate:
1-10 oz bag of vegan semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper – this is necessary to keep the cookies from becoming permanently part of the baking sheet… it’s not a step that is worth skipping. Parchment paper is cheap. I had actually run out of it and made a special trip to the grocery store just to buy it.
There are many ways to toast coconut, including in the conventional oven, on the stovetop, or in a toaster oven. It is also an option to buy coconut that is already toasted if you don’t want to deal with this. I like the stovetop method best, using a dry cast iron skillet. It gets very hot very fast though, and it needs to be watched carefully so the coconut does not burn. Once the cast iron skillet is hot, remove it from the heat. Add the coconut chips to the skillet in a single layer so it cooks evenly. If it won’t all fit in there at the same time it’s OK. It can be toasted a little bit at a time. Give it a quick toss to lightly toast the coconut and then transfer it to a plate or bowl to stop the cooking process and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, vegan margarine, and brown sugar. Using a hand mixer, cream the sugar, coconut oil and vegan margarine together. Add nondairy milk of choice (I used plain, unsweetened almond milk) and pure vanilla extract and mix again until smooth.
In a separate bowl, combine unbleached flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Fold coconut chips into the dough.
Scoop out a small amount of dough onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten into small circles about 1/4”-1/2” thick. I like a crispy cookie, so I tend to make them thinner. These will not spread much, so you can place them close to each other on the baking sheet, just make sure they are not touching. Bake at 350ºF for 6-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to set for at least 5 minutes.
Remove 2 TBSP coconut milk from the can and mix with 1 tsp tapioca starch/flour and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt vegan margarine on medium low heat. Add brown sugar, brown rice syrup, salt and remaining coconut milk. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Increase heat to high and add dissolved tapioca starch/flour and bring to a boil. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens. Reduce heat to low, and add in pure vanilla extract. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler and set aside. To make the chocolate a little thinner, you can add a little bit of cocoa butter (available at most good culinary shops), but it isn’t necessary if you can’t find it in your area.
Once the cookies are baked and cool, turn all the cookies upside down and spread a small amount of melted chocolate on the bottom side. Allow the chocolate to set, which can be done by placing the whole baking sheet of cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or so. Once it is set, flip all the cookies over.
Spoon a small amount of caramel on the top side of each cookie, followed by a drizzle of chocolate on top of the caramel. Refrigerate again for 15-20 minutes to set the chocolate up, and enjoy any time of year, not just when it’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!