Sunday, May 18, 2014

Coconut Caramel Sugar Cookie Bars

Do you LOVE Samoa cookies as much as I do??? I was daydreaming at my office last week, and yes, it was about cookies....I often do that around 3 in the afternoon, when lunch has worn off and it's time to start thinking about going home and cooking dinner. This weekend we were having a little family get together because my sister from Arizona was coming for a visit. I was in charge of the food, like usual, and I was day dreaming about something yummy for dessert. I love sugar cookie bars.... they are easy... but rather than just icing them with the usual frosting, I was craving coconut--as in Samoa cookies. PLUS, I wanted to try making caramel from sweetened condensed milk. Have you seen that method on Pinterest where you put the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a crock pot covered with water?? IT WORKS!! It takes several hours on high, just allow yourself time to do this before you need the cookies. I let mine cook in the crock pot while I was at work. Remember to let the cans of sweetened condensed milk completely cook before opening, you don't what any explosions going on, but it makes the BEST caramel sauce. This recipe is what I came up with while daydreaming....sometimes those seem to be the best . Enjoy!!

Coconut Caramel Sugar Cookie Bars
There are a couple of things you need to do ahead of time before making the cookie bars:
First take:
2 unopened cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
Place the whole, unopened cans of condensed milk on their sides in a crock pot. Submerge in at least 3 inches of water. ( cover the cans with water). Cook on medium for 10 hours or on high for 7. Let cool completely before opening. 
Toast your coconut:
1 large package Sweetened coconut, toasted
To toast coconut, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a large cookie sheet, bake for 7 to 10 minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Stir after first 3 or 4 minutes, and continue to check and stir every couple of minutes. It will toast really fast once it starts so you need to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Cool and set aside. 

Sugar Cookie Bars:
1 cup butter (no substitutions), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter and sugar in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy--about 2 minutes. Add egg and flavorings and mix to incorporate.
In a separate bowl whisk together  the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add slowly to the butter mixture and mix to combine. If your dough is a little dry, a 1 Tablespoon of milk.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Plop your cookie dough out onto your cookie sheet and press to the edges with fingers so the dough covers the bottom of the pan (if your pan is really big and you want thicker bars don't go all the way to the edges.)Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes or longer until the middle is well set and the edges start to turn slightly brown. The baking time really depends on how you like them and how thick your dough is. If you like them more chewy bake less time, for more crispy bake a little longer.Cool completely.
While the cookie bars are cooling, open your cooled condensed milk caramel and spoon out into a medium size mixing bowl, if it's really thick microwave for 10 seconds. Next add toasted coconut (you may not need it all, it just depends how thick you want your caramel topping) Stir to combine.
Spread caramel coconut mixture over the top of the cooled sugar cookie bars. I usually drop by spoonfuls all over the top then use an off set spatula to spread so it covers the top completely. 
Now for a the chocolate drizzle. Pour about 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Let sit for a minute in the microwave then stir. If not quite melted microwave for another 10 seconds. After the chocolate is melted pour into a decorator bag with a small tip, or you can use a sandwich baggie with the corner cut out.. just barely so it's a small hole. Squeeze the chocolate to the end of the bag with the hole and drizzle in zig zag motions all over the top of the bars until gone. Let chocolate set up then cut into bars and enjoy!
Bet ya can't eat just one!!!

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