This recipe isn’t easy. The process involves baking shortbread cookies, coating them with caramel, sprinkling freshly toasted coconut onto the caramel, dipping the bottom of the cookies into chocolate, and then adding a chocolate drizzle over the top. It takes time to make each one, but the technique I’m revealing here does produce a delicious cookie that will satisfy anyone who loves Samoas, which is the #2 most popular Girl Scout Cookie (Thin Mints are #1). This may be the recipe to make when you have the ability to recruit some joyous and enthusiastic kitchen helpers.

½ cup vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup milk

11 ounces (3 cups) sweetened coconut flakes
80 unwrapped Kraft caramels (2 9½ ounce bags)
⅓ cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon salt
2 12-ounce bags Ghirardelli dark melting wafers (or other chocolate candy melts)

Cooking method

1-Cream together the shortening, butter, and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and salt and mix for another minute. Mix the baking powder into the flour in a medium bowl and add it to the wet ingredients along with the milk. Mix well by hand until the dough can be formed into a ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill it for 1 hour.

2-After 1 hour, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

3-Roll the dough out on a flat, floured surface to about ¼ inch to ⅛ inch thick. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter to punch out rounds of the cookie dough. Use a small lid that is about ¾ inch across, like one from a bottle of vanilla extract, to cut holes in the center of each cookie.

4-Place all of the cookie dough rings ½ inch apart on parchment paper– or Silpat pad–lined baking sheets and bake for 12 to 16 minutes. The cookies will be lightly browned on the bottom when done. Allow the cookies to cool completely before coating.

5-Set the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

6-While the cookies are cooling, toast the coconut by spreading it out on a baking sheet. Pop the coconut into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned. Stir the coconut every 5 minutes as it toasts. Once the coconut is cool, use a food processor (or a blender in several batches) to chop the toasted coconut into bits about the size of rice.

7-Combine the caramels with the evaporated milk, water, and salt in medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Stir often until the caramels are completely melted, about 15 minutes.

8-Dip each of the cookies into the caramel one-at-a-time. Use the tip of a butter knife in the hole of the cookie to fish it out of the caramel and place it onto wax paper or parchment paper. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with toasted coconut while the caramel is warm so that it sticks.

9-Give each cookie a minute to cool a bit then pick each one up and roll the edges around in the coconut so that the sides of the cookie are coated with toasted coconut. Place the cookie back onto the pan to cool. Allow the caramel-coated cookies to cool for 1 to 2 hours.

10-When the cookies have cooled, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl in the microwave on high for 1 minute or until it is soft. Hold each cookie flat by the edges, dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate, and place the cookie onto fresh sheets of wax paper.

11-When all of the cookies have been dipped, reheat the chocolate for 30 seconds in the microwave on high, then load the chocolate into a squirt bottle. Use a sweeping motion to make chocolate stripes across all of the cookies. Each cookie should have 4 stripes if you want them to look exactly like the real cookies. Let the cookies set up for several hours and then store them in a covered container in a cool spot.

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