Oct 1, 2013

Desperately Seeking Samoas

There has been a nasty cold going around Boston, which led to me staying home from work sick for two days. Legitimately sick, not "oops, I have a cough.  Vacation day on the couch for me!".  I am historically very bad at admitting that I am sick and staying home accordingly.  I could be dragging my spleen behind me, and I'd be saying "no, I'm fine, really!"  So this was actually a pretty good accomplishment for me.  The downside was that I fell behind on my blog entries. The upside is the following true story, proving that I am quite happy to laugh at myself.

Despite all of my baking, candying, and other unhealthy food making, I don't tend to keep much in the way of sweets in the house.  I make things, and then tend to just feed everyone around me. Co-workers, friends, my favorite bartenders, pretty much anyone who I think would appreciate a tasty treat. Not only does it give me a way to avoid eating 10 tons of junk, but it also gives me the excuse to keep making new things. Occasionally this backfires, however.

On Monday I had a scratchy throat.  Monday/Tuesday morning I felt as though I'd been gargling razor blades. This was about the time that I decided that work was just not going to happen that day. I proceeded to stay in bed, feeling very grateful for my tablet, so that I could peruse Facebook and chit chat with people at my leisure. Around lunchtime, I realized what I wanted.  I wanted cookies.  Of course, I have no cookies in the house.  There is a 7-11 close by, but I didn't want prepackaged cookies.  That was just not going to cut it.  And there was no way that I was going to attempt to go to a bakery with good cookies.  Let's be honest, there was no way that I was going to leave my apartment. I started the mental rundown of cookie recipes, waiting for my lizard brain to shout "Yes!" (this is, in fact, the way that I tend to make all decisions on what to eat/drink).

Crack, in Cookie Form.
I had found this recipe for homemade Samoas a while back, and had been meaning to try it.  Depending on your girl scout council, you may know them as Caramel Delights.  If neither of these names have any meaning to you, then please, just walk away.  This is not me judging you, this is my attempt to save you from cookie crack. There's a reason that girl scouts sell so many cookies, and Samoas may be that reason.

As soon as I thought of it, my lizard brain decided that is what it wanted, no questions or substitutions.  So I look through the recipe. Basic sugar cookie ingredients, no problem.  Chocolate, no problem (I may have an entire cabinet of chocolate making supplies). Coconut, no problem. Caramels. Fifteen ounces soft caramels. Well, crap. That is a problem. I don't even have a caramel sauce that could be used to fake it. Meanwhile, I know that my lizard brain is not going to be satisfied until I get these cookies. Sigh. 

Well, if there is one thing that I'm good at, it's problem solving. I don't have caramels, and if I just change the flavor profile of the cookie, that is not going to be satisfying.  But! I have sugar. Sugar is in caramel.  And cream. And corn syrup. And despite the fact that I've never actually made caramel, I do know some of the physics of sugar (as a note, I would highly recommend this article by Harold McGee, in which he discusses the melting point of sugar.  It's actually a topic that is still debated). I also had this recipe by David Leibowitz for a salted butter caramel, that I had been tempted to try.

So yes, what I'm saying is that I proceeded to make caramels.  I will give you the full image, for your amusement.  First, I'm sick, with stuffed up sinuses, unshowered, and in my bathrobe.  Because tending to caramel is similar to watching a precocious two year old, it has to be constantly watched.  Therefore, I grab a chair, and sit down in front of the stove, so that I can carefully watch the temperature of the cooking sugar. I can only imagine that the image was rather amusing.  Or maybe it's just me.

The caramels recipe is very good, although they are not "soft" caramels.  The second time I made them I tweaked some temperature points, and used a higher quality butter, and they turned out amazing.  But, that's getting side tracked.  After pouring the caramels into a pan to cool, and sitting down to rest for a little bit, I proceeded to make the sugar cookies, then the topping, and then put them all together. If you opt to try to make your own Samoas, believe it when the recipe says that the coconut burns quickly, and to keep a close eye on it.  The coconut on the edges of the pan will brown very quickly, and not evenly with respect to the rest of the pan.  I did not, however, burn mine (yay!)

I think that I finally had finished cookies at around 7:00 PM. Yes, it was a ridiculous thing to do when sick. Yes, it would have gone a whole lot faster if I'd had proper ingredients. But I gotta tell you, the finished cookies? Totally worth it. Also, I had a little bit of the caramel and coconut mixture left over at the end.  So I made them into balls and just dipped them in chocolate.  All I will say about those is that it is something that will definitely, definitely happen again.

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