Chewy Amaretti Cookies & Samoas Bars
Since I recently lost some weight, I often get asked, “How do you bake like that and still stay skinny?”
Well, I think I’m still pretty far from skinny. But the secret to not eating all the cookies or whatever is to spread it around! So, I bring goodies to the monthly staff meeting at work. That way, I eat a couple myself (just to test, of course) and give the rest away. Voila! Temptation averted.
As many of those who like to cook do, I have stacks and stacks of recipes I’d like to try. I expect that if I made 2 or 3 of them every day for the rest of my life, I’d still never get through them all. And the stacks grow every day.
Establishing this routine has given me a venue to try a couple or 3 new recipes every month. All of my coworkers know they are my guinea pigs and that I usually haven’t tried the recipes I bring, prior to that time. Occasionally, one is a complete failure. Some recipes are more popular than others. Interesting trends in eating habits are revealed. For instance, I always have more leftover cookies at the end of the day in January than any other time. Hmm, I can’t imagine why…
I have a lovely little spreadsheet to keep track of what recipes I’ve already done, but now that I have this little online spot just for me, I can share pictures and details of the recipes I try each month. Hence, Monthly Munchies is born! Care to play along?
Our staff meeting is usually held on the second Thursday of every month. So I’ll be posting that Thursday or the day after, each month, about the recipes that I make. If you’d like to do some Monthly Munchies, just send me the link to your posts and I’ll add ’em in.
On to this month’s selections!
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 7 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips ok)
- 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 12 oz Kraft caramel bits (now available in baking aisle at grocery stores) or traditional caramels unwrapped
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp milk
- 3 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate chopped (chocolate chips ok)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup butter softened
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray for baking. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. As soon as you remove pan from the oven, pour 7 oz chocolate over top of shortbread and return to the oven for a couple of minutes, until soft and spreadable. Spread chocolate evenly over base. Allow to cool completely, until chocolate has solidified (chill to speed this step, if desired). Flip over onto a sheet of parchment and peel off foil. The chocolate has now become the bottom and the bottom of the shortbread is now the top – ready for its caramely-coconuty topping.
- Reduce oven heat to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
- Pour caramel bits into a large microwave safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
- Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
- When cooled, cut into 1 1/2″ squares with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping). Once bars are cut, melt remaining chocolate (approx. 3 oz) in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave 20-30 seconds, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching, adding 10 second intervals as needed until smooth. Transfer into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.
- Note: You can simply drizzle chocolate on top of the bars before slicing them up if you’re looking for yet an easier way to finish these off. You won’t need quite as much chocolate as noted above, and you won’t quite get the Samoas look, but the results will still be tasty.