Thursday, March 22

"Samoa" Cookies

A few months back I saw a great recipe at beautiful Real Sustenance blogGluten Free Samoa Cookies. (Grain/Egg/Corn/Soy/Dairy/Refined Sugar Free). Samoa cookies have always been my favorite, dating back to my year as a Junior Girl Scout. If you've ever read the label though, like me, you know that they are not very good for you. So I was very excited to find Brittany's recipe over at Real Sustenance, and saved it for a later date. Check out the recipe here.

I finally had the chance to make these cookies yesterday with a good friend. They weren't exactly like original Samoa, but they were EXCELLENT cookies, even compared with traditional cookies made with wheat flour and butter. We used spring themed cookie cutters - a flower, a tulip and butterfly. If I get the chance to make these again some day, I will just keep it simple with a circle cutter, because the shapes get covered by the blobs of caramel and you can't tell what they are underneath the delicious toppings. The shapes made it more festive though, so I'm still glad we did that.

The caramel is so delicious, the fact that you can't tell these are tulips, flowers and butterflies doesn't really matter!

First, I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Shortbread mix to make the base cookies. It was one of the last grain items left in my kitchen, so it needed to be used up. This made my cookies gluten free but not grain free. However, they are free of soy, dairy and egg.
I made the shortbread cookies with substitutions for the ingredients called for on the recipe on the bag, which called for butter, water and an egg yolk.
I used the new Spectrum butter flavored palm shortening in place of butter or soybean oil shortening, and instead of egg yolk I mixed a heaping tablespoon of golden flax meal with 1/8 cup warm water, into a yolky-textured gel. I had to add water throughout mixing the dough, to get it to the right texture to roll out flat, but they turned out very well - if a bit hard. The golden flecks of flax meal in the white cookies looks pretty.

Once the shortbread cookies were cooled, I made the caramel. The original recipe had several options for each ingredient - what a blessing when you have dietary restrictions! I made it with the following:
  • 3/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar (another item in the small "gotta get rid of this" section of my cupboard!)
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • half can of canned, preservative-free coconut milk (I LOVE Taste Nirvana!)

I was surprised at how long it took to get the caramel past 200 degrees; it was a stubborn pot that didn't want to boil! But finally after about 30 minutes, the candy thermometer was creeping up and we had our caramel. It was delicious! I think it's pretty neat that you can make caramel dairy-free, and I want to make it again for a special occasion to top coconut ice cream.

For the chocolate topping, we used Enjoy Life allergen-free mini chocolate chips (those things are AWESOME!) and my unsweetened coconut flakes were organic, small shreds from the bulk section of Whole Foods that we toasted on parchment paper in the oven for about 5 minutes

A tulip

It was definitely worth it to finally try out this recipe. I would love to repeat it every year around Girl Scout Cookie time, so I feel less left out. It's good to treat yourself once in a while :)
Happy Spring! Are you as thrilled as I am that it's finally here?!