Why the cookies have that name I have no idea, but I grew up in an area that called them Samoas and not "Caramel Delights" as some regions did. If you are not from the USA, they are shortbread rings covered with caramel, coconut, and chocolate.
I have made Samoas before in the ring shape, but was not ready to go through that process again. I briefly entertained the idea of making bars, but I also felt I should be doing something with a Halloween theme for the kids. Upon remembering I was in possession of a pumpkin cookie cutter, I realized I was set.
I lined my baking trays in preparation. I used to feel holy about avoiding silicon trays, opting instead to line baking trays with paper. Then I read the packet of baking paper and saw that it's lined with silicon. Oops. Still prefer it to floppy trays and weird floppy liners.
I also like to roll out cookie dough between sheets of paper to prevent adding too much flour to the dough and so nothing gets stuck to surfaces or rolling pins. I did take photos of me making the dough, but I lost them. It's just a basic shortbread, nothing fancy.
I was all excited and sure they would be an amazing success when I put them in...
And then they came out looking like this. Oh. Vaguely pumpkin shaped, but not really what I'd had in mind. Next time I should just do the Joy of Cooking recipe for rich roll cookies. Thanks, Liz, for reminding me how wonderful it is!
Then comes the part that fills me with fear: caramel. I really have no clue what I'm doing when it comes to caramel. I get all panicky and don't like to attempt it if there are any kids nearby. I only had one with me this time, and he was well out of the way on my back, so nervously I set to work getting everything ready: sugar, butter, and cream.
Ok, into the pan goes the sugar.
Ack! Ridges! Some parts are clear, some are deep amber (what I want all of it to be) and some haven't even melted yet...WHAT IS GOING ON!
Ok, that's kind of better, but will someone make that big lump go away?!!
NOOOO, I THINK IT'S BURNING!!! ABORT ABORT!!!
And into a sinkful of water it went to stop it getting any hotter.
So I added butter and the caramel all solidified around the whisk. Great. Still, I kept stirring and eventually it all melted.
Then I added cream until it looked like this.
This was my end result. It tasted kind of like a soft version of the inside of a Heath bar or Daim bar. So not utterly like the caramel of Samoas, but not bad either.
After setting about a third of a cup or so aside, in went the coconut
And it was stirred until it was a big, gloopy mess. Now onto assembly.
Some pure caramel gets smeared onto each cookie...
Which helps the gloopy mess to stick.
Mmmm...but don't eat any yet!
Then you flip them over and paint some melted chocolate on with a pastry brush (or dip them - it's up to you). I am a big fan of melting chocolate in the microwave on a very slow heat. This way, if you get summoned out of the room on some parenting emergency, you do not need to worry about it being left on the heat; the timer on the microwave will run out, and the chocolate will patiently wait until you have time for it again. Just don't try to do it on high heat or in one long blast - regular stirrings are kind of important.
Once that's hardened, turn them back over
And carefully pipe decorations onto them. At this point, everyone was home and in the kitchen, and Robert was on my back now awake and kicking. I was under pressure as a couple had already been stolen by my husband who didn't realize I was going to decorate them even further. Precision was never going to happen with all this going on, so while I tried at first to make some vaguely jack'o'lantern type piping decorations, eventually I gave in and just went with the quick zigzag drizzle.
At least my kids recognized them for what they were meant to be.
But my husband just shrugged and said, it's not how they look that matters.
And they do taste pretty pretty good.
Recipe from the Little Epicurean