Geeez. I have been talking about making my own Girl Scout cookies for quite a while. Ages really.
Growing up, my family really didn't buy Girl Scout cookies because we've always been set on homemade baked goods. Store-bought pies, cookies and really anything baked are pretty much taboo in our fam...(with the exception of the occasional Orange Milano or Oreo in very desperate times).
I usually had samplings of Girl Scout cookies at friends' houses growing up, and then in college my friends were really into them. I've probably only bought one or two boxes myself in my lifetime. That said, I do admit they have some wonderful flavor combos that straight up BELONG together.
Recently I have been trying to be more conscious of what products I buy because of the palm oil issue around the world. Palm oil is in almost every processed food and a ton of cosmetic products. Millions of acres of rainforest are being destroyed to grow palm oil plantations, wiping out the habitats of many species (including endangered animals such as Orangutans) and causing environmental degradation all across the board.
After hearing that they use palm oil in their cookies, I decided to boycott Girl Scout cookies (even though I really didn't buy them habitually anyways). While there have been efforts to rid the brand of palm oil, they still use it, and I believe in making the best effort to keep conscious decisions about this kind of stuff. With this knowledge, I decided it was even more reason to make my own!
Such a perfect combination. Shortbread cookie. Chocolate. Caramel. Toasted Coconut. Ohh yes.
And while this may be the more complicated cookie of the Girl Scouts to bake yourself, it is truly worth the effort.
Ingredients: Recipe adapted from Mind Over Batter
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temp
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups ap flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Scant 2 tbsp milk
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 can Dulce de Leche
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
8 oz. chocolate of your choice (I used semisweet)
Make the Cookies:
In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) and set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Then pour in the dry ingredients and mix on low. While mixing add the milk, and mix until it just comes together. Separate into two, form into rectangles & wrap with plastic, chill in the fridge or freezer for 45ish minutes.
While the dough is chilling, toast your coconut. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, and bake 10 to 15 minutes until golden. Be sure to check on it every 5 minutes or so and stir it around so it gets an even toasting.
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment or a silpat. On a floured surface, roll out one of the dough halves with a floured rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter (or if you have it, a linzer cookie cutter like I used) cut out your circles. Then using a smaller circle (the bottom of a piping tip works great) cut out a hole in the middle. Do the same with the other dough half. Transfer to your baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until set and the bottoms are lightly browned. Let cool entirely on a wire rack before topping.
Put the Dulce de Leche in a microwavable bowl with the milk and salt and zap for three one minute intervals (stopping in between to stir). Once smooth, add the toasted coconut and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until incorporated. <If you want to make your own caramel rather than using Dulce de Leche I'm sure it would work.>
Prepare a set up of wax paper or parchment that you can put the cookies on while they are setting up. Using a spoon or small offset spatula, spread about 2 teaspoons of the caramel coconut mixture onto the cookies and place on parchment. Let set up for a few minutes. Then melt your chocolate (microwave, double boiler-- however you prefer) and dip the bottoms of the cookies in the chocolate. Then pour the remaining chocolate into a piping bag (or ziploc with the tip snipped off) and do the drizzle over the coconut layer. Transfer to the fridge to let set up.
And there you go!
To learn more about palm oil and how to help check out this site!
<Photography by Nevin Cullen>