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I have a bone to pick with girl scouts and it’s only sort of because my mom never let me be one. She said that it would have been more work for her than joy for me and so I was denied the joy and community and also the COOKIES. But that’s not why I have a bone to pick.
I have a bone to pick with girl scouts because they changed the name of their cookies to the stupid “caramel de-lites” which is offensive to me on a lot of levels. Partially because “de-lite” is not a word and actually lowers the amount of delight that I am able to feel when I eat the cookies. And partially because they changed the producer or whatever it was and now their cookies are simply not as good as they used to be.
I think the cookie that took the biggest fall was actually the tagalongs/peanut butter patties. I don’t like the generalization of this very specific type of great cookie into a just a peanut butter pattie – also because peanut butter patties are a different thing.
My final problem is that girl scout cookies involved, typically, interacting with a young child who is selling me cookies. To be honest, I don’t really want to talk to a seven year old girl. I just want to eat a cookie. So I conglomerated this recipe to avoid children and increase my delight. I hope it increases your delight, too.
I'm really an advocate of not messing with great junk food. I will never try to make a recipe for something like Cheetos or Oreos, which are scientifically proven to be perfect foods. But I really think that Caramel De-lites are worth the time to make your own. The return on investment is significant, if I can put it in economic terms.
yields 1 8x8 pan, or about 16 bars plus extra caramel sauce
for the shortbread crust
- 1 1/2 stick butter, melted (still warm)
- 5 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 pinches flaky sea salt (like Maldon)
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil, to create a sling. Grease well.
In a medium bowl, mix butter and sugar thoroughly. Add vanilla and salt, and stir again well. Add flour and mix until just combined. Press into the bottom of your baking pan. Let dough rest for at least 2 hours (no need to refrigerate) or over night.
NOTE: I felt like this actually produced about 1/3 cup too much dough, so I pulled out a tennis ball sized chunk so the crust would be a little thinner. Also, because then I got to have 3 cookies to just eat while this whole process was coming together. Mid-baking snacks are the move, y'all.
When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 300(F) and bake for 45-50 minutes. You want the crust to be a little extra golden brown around the edges and have a good snap, so don't be afraid of the oven. Let cool in the pan. Set aside.
for the caramel/coconut topping
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 big pinch flaky sea salt (Maldon)
- 2 cups coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine sugar, water and corn syrup. Cook over medium-high heat for 12-13 minutes until mixture reaches a deep amber color. Stir or swirl pan occasionally, but don't mess with it too much. If you want to use a candy thermometer, you're looking for about 250 degrees (F). If you don't have a candy thermometer, check the color by spoon some of the mixture onto a white plate. Don't pull it off too soon, the darker the caramel, the more intense the flavor.
While you're cooking the caramel, warm up your cream in the microwave. It shouldn't be too warm to dip your fingers into. When you've reached your desired level of color, remove pot from heat and stir in butter and then cream, in stages. It will foam up a bunch but stay calm and keep stirring. Also be careful of the steam, it will be very hot. If you're tryna be a dirty girl scout, add 1/4 cup of bourbon and laugh to yourself about how dumb real girl scouts are. (Laughing optional, actually).
Place your coconut flakes in a dry pan over medium heat and stir evenly until the flakes begin to turn golden-brown, about 5-7 minutes. Pay attention, toasted can go to burnt really fast.
Once toasted mix coconut with 1 cup of caramel sauce and spread evenly over shortbread crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Use a knife to loosen the edges of the caramel that has stuck to the pan, then use parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into 12 pieces.
Reserve the rest of your caramel sauce for your morning coffee, to eat with apples, to put on top of ice cream or basically to add to anything to make it better.