Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gluten-Free "Caramel deLites"

I think it was always a hard decision for me (back when I could still eat them) on whether Caramel deLites (a.k.a. Samoas) or Thin Mints (recipe here) were my favorite out of the Girl Scout cookies. I could easily eat an entire sleeve of the Thin Mints in one sitting - and have great memories of doing so with my family when I was younger.

There's something about the caramel and coconut topping, though, that really makes my mouth water. Over the years I would eat them many different ways: Pop an entire one in my mouth, take little bites, scrape the caramel off first, eat the cookie first and save the topping for last ...

I didn't want my girls to go without the same experience just because they can't eat gluten, especially since my oldest is in Girl Scouts now.

I adapted this recipe from this recipe over at Baking Bites. The cookies were very good, but they spread out a little too much for my liking. Next time I'll freeze it first in a log, then slice the batter. I tried this on a different cookie yesterday, nearly the same batter, and it worked well. If I even make individual cookies again. I honestly think next time, I'll spread the batter out into a pan and bake the base for bars, then do topping, cut into squares and coat bottoms/drizzle chocolate individually. I'm about saving time whenever possible!

Projected prep time (without children distractions): 1 hour (this includes topping); Projected bake time: 7-10 minutes
1 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. organic cane sugar
2 c. (level) plus 2 tbsp. (level) Pamela's bread mix & flour blend (not baking mix)
2 tbsp. (level) potato starch
1/4 tsp. (level) gluten-free, aluminum-free baking powder
1/8 tsp. (level)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 c. (not packed) shredded coconut
1 bag of Kraft caramels
1/4 tsp.sea salt or kosher salt
3 tbsp. milk
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus 1 separate tbsp.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (unless you are freezing the dough into a log, as I mention above - it's what I'll do next time).

Combine flour blend together with salt and baking powder, and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together, then add vanilla. Scrape sides to make sure it's all incorporated. Mix in the dry ingredients and continue mixing just until it's incorporated well and is a pliable dough (not crumbly).

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and then roll dough into 1-inch balls, place on sheets and then flatten to approximately 1/4-inch thick with the bottom of a cup (unless you try the log method mentioned above).

I'll show you now how I came to this conclusion. First I wanted to make cookies with holes in them, but I didn't have a tiny round cutter, so I rolled some of the dough flat about 1/4-inch thick and cut into rounds, then used a tiny star cutter:

But when I tried to move each cookie to the pan, the dough wasn't really cooperating. So after moving one cookie (see it deformed below), I wadded up above dough and placed it in my cookie press:

I baked one sheet like this to see how they turned out. They came out so terrible I didn't even take a photo. The problem is the above-mentioned spreading of the cookie. I have remedied this somewhat by making a thicker dough than I originally used in this batch (therefore, these photos). The recipe above is another adapted version, a thicker dough than what I used in these photos and for this batch, but I did try it out in a slightly different flavored cookie yesterday and it worked better. Yesterday I also rolled the dough into a log first, froze it and then sliced them. Since it's a different type of cookie, though, I'm  posting those photos for a different recipe on another day.

So, now your dough is on the sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. Check at 7 minutes. You want them to be done, but not overdone. The edges should be starting to brown. They will be a crispy, not soft cookie. If you are using a gas oven, bake on the top rack.

Let the cookies sit for a few minutes on the sheets before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. They will break apart if you try to move them too soon. They will stay together once they are cool.

While cookies are cooling, line a baking sheet (with sides) with parchment paper and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread coconut onto the sheet:

And toast for 20 minutes, removing every 5 minutes to stir it, until coconut is golden brown and crispy. Go ahead and taste it. It's wonderful.

Place unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl with the salt and milk.

Microwave on high for 3 or 4 minutes (or less if your microwave is melting it faster), and stop every minute to stir, until the caramel can be stirred smooth.

Fold in the toasted coconut.

Spread topping onto cooled cookies (placing back on paper-lined sheets), and microwave the caramel again for a few seconds if it cools off too much to work with.

Let the cookies sit for a while to let the topping harden. Meanwhile, melt the 8 oz. of chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on high for about a minute and a half to 2 minutes, stopping after the first 45 seconds to stir and every 25 seconds after that.

When you can stir the chocolate smooth, add the 1 tbsp. of chocolate and stir quickly to melt and incorporate. This should help the chocolate set up better after cooling. I forgot to do this, and had to store the cookies in the refrigerator because the chocolate would melt as soon as it was touched.

Spread chocolate onto the bottom of each cookie and return to sheet.

After the bottom of cookies are coated, place remaining chocolate into a piping bag or small ziploc bag with a tiny snip taken out of the corner, and drizzle chocolate over the hardened caramel topping.

Let the chocolate set before serving. You can speed this up by placing the cookies in the refrigerator. Store in airtight container between layers of wax paper after chocolate is set.

And if you'd like to try Thin Mints, here's a recipe for those.


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