Everyone needs a little wake up reminder every once in a while – I received mine, earlier this week, when I managed to give myself a pretty bad cut on my thumb while cooking, which resulted in a trip to Urgent Care. Fortunately, I didn’t end up needing stitches – but I was given a tetanus shot and told to take it easy on my hand the next few days. Unfortunately, this happened right before the monthly Diablo Valley Pagan‘s Meet & Greet – which means that I was scrambling that day, trying to come up with something easy and simple to bring with me.
Of course the whole week was kinda meh – the thumb was just the crappy icing on a crappy cake. We had a whole week straight of storms – and rainy weather never really brings out my happy-happy side, nevermind the fact that a certain young Miss Thing was having issues with a homework assignment this week. It got finished, but there was some last minute cramming getting in there – I think that was partially a parent-fail, since she was supposed to be writing a court room dramatization – and we never watch court room dramas really, so she was kind of clueless about the whole dealio. Thank goodness for “A Few Good Men” – lol!
We’ve also developed a new obsession – one of my sisters had mentioned that we might like a show called Dexter. Which – er… ah… we ended up liking. A lot. So much that we’ve been up very late in the evenings all week watching it. Causing us to have many short-sleep-ed nights. Okay, the show is CRACK. Can’t-Stop-Watching-Episode-After-Episode-CRACK. <cough> So, erm… yeah, there’s been a lot of Dexter watching going on – which has been kind of at odds with my Be-More-Productive resolve. The next week promises to be pretty durned lame, too – lots of late night evenings for Mr. Man. Some big hubaloo at work this week. It’ll be okay, just not really looking forward to it.
Speaking of things that I’m not sure I’m really looking forward to – I’ll be attending Pantheacon, next month – which I’m pretty nervous about. I’ve never been to a convention, but I’ve heard a lot about them – and can make some educated guesses about what it will be like… Which only makes me nervouser. I don’t like going to the mall on the weekends because it gets crowded – and now I’m going to spend an entire weekend packed in to a hotel with thousands of other people. I’m probably crazy. No, I’m definitely crazy. Anyways. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll run in to friends from San Diego – there are quite a few people that I’ve lost touch with over the years that it’d be nice to talk to and get proper contact information on. One of the bizarre Pagan Cultural problems is that your real name and the name that you actually go by in the community can often be pretty different – which can make it hard to facebook stalk… er… find them again. Well actually – that can also be a problem for any internet handle -> real life association. I’m rambling, but you probably get the idea.
I’m sure I’ll have an awesome time though – and I’m probably just being my normal worrying too much self about the whole issue. But aside from the people and crowds, I’m actually a little concerned about food for the Con. Supposedly there’s limited (re: Expensive and not very good) dining, no refrigeration – and forget trying to find anything local/sustainable. My sister says that we’ll be taking a cooler – so I’m trying to come up with some ideas that would be good for quick, grab and go snacks and meals that will still be vaguely healthy. I would prefer to have things available that don’t need refrigeration or reheating – which will be a neat trick, I’m sure. I have a couple of ideas – but if anyone wants to suggest some, I’m all ears. I don’t, however, think I’ll be bringing these absolutely decadent Samoas with me – since then I’d probably never want to come out of the hotel room, lol.
Every time Girl Scout Cookie time comes along, I always think to myself that I should try making Samoas – because they are like my Kryptonite. I love them and always order several boxes. Then of course, they’re gone and I don’t get any for the rest of the year. Which, let’s face it – is probably good for my waist line, but still a sad, sad thing. Last weekend, my neighbor stopped by with her daughter who just recently entered in to Daisy Scouts, with a big glossy flier and an order form. Of course I ordered some, but they don’t get here for weeks and weeks. So late in the afternoon on the day of my DVP meeting, with a big ol’ cut on my thumb, an aching arm, and only a couple of hours to spare, I decided it was a perfect time to try and make Samoas to take to the meet & greet. Have I mentioned I’m crazy? I just barely got them dipped, drizzled and set before I had to dash out the door… but even still, they turned out so delish that I knew I had to post about them if I had any leftover.
Fortunately, although we had a few new faces and a decent-ish turn out, I ended up with enough leftover to take some pictures of when I got home (if maybe not the prettiest ones). They actually go together pretty quickly – and are a more-than adequate substitute if you happen to be outside of Girl Scout Cookie Season and craving some caramel coconut goodness. The real trick to making these decadent treats though, would definitely be to use the best ingredients you can – especially the chocolate. I ended up using some terrific flake coconut that I had in the pantry, with some lovely dark Valrhona Chocolate bars that my nearby Trader Joes carries. If I’ve said it once, I know I’ve probably said it a milli0n times – when making anything with only a few ingredients it’s even more important that you use the finest ingredients you can lay your hands on. Your tastebuds will thank you.
A couple of other quick notes – next time, I would probably pre-bake the crust. I didn’t this time, and although I loved the tenderness, it did make them harder to dip – since the bars kinda wanted to crumble a little bit. Post-dipping, they held together fine, since the chocolate provided more structure for them – I also might consider using shredded coconut next time – mostly because cutting the bars was a pain with the big flakes of coconut, and I imagine it would be easier with finely shredded coconut instead. Which is really too bad, because I loved the taste and texture of the flakes. I also tempered the chocolate – unlike the time I made Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies. If you don’t want to bother, it will probably be fine to simply melt the chocolate and dip. You will have to keep them in the fridge to make sure they stay set up, but they’ll still taste good. For the record, although tempering was a pain, I’m glad I did since it made for a more finger friendly snack at the Meet & Greet – and I’ll probably temper from now on.
- 1 and 1/2 cups Sugar
- 3 sticks Butter; softened; divided
- 1 cup Sour Cream; Room Temperature
- 2 cups Flour
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 2 cups Unsweetened Flake Coconut
- 1 cup Chopped Pecans (optional)
- 10 oz Fine Quality Dark Chocolate; coarsely chopped in to chunks
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt; divided
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Place the 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-low heat
- Cook the sugar without stirring until the sugar begins to melt, liquefy and caramelize, at which point you can gently swirl the pan around
- Once the caramel is completely liquefied and golden dark brown in color, remove from heat and add the butter.
- Stir to combine (careful – the caramel will spit and hiss)
- Add the Sour Cream, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp of the kosher salt. Stir to combine.
- Set the caramel aside to cool
- Line a 9″x13″ pan with Parchment Paper
- In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, and remaining 1/4 tsp of Kosher Salt
- Add the remaining two sticks of softened butter to the flour mixture and mix together to form a soft dough
- Press the crust mixture evenly in to the bottom of the parchment lined pan
- Stir the coconut and pecans (if using) in to the caramel, then spread evenly over the crust
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until crust is set
- Cool Bars completely before cutting
- Cut the caramel bars in to squares
- Temper the chocolate
- Take 2/3′s of the chocolate and place it in to a medium sized bowl
- Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water
- Stir the chocolate and use a candy thermometer to heat to around 105°
- Remove from heat and stir in the reserved 1/3 of the chocolate chunks until they melt to bring the temperature down to 88°
- Monitor the temperature and try to keep it at or close to 88° while dipping and drizzling, returning to the saucepan of water when neccessary (do not heat above 89-91° or you’ll have to add more chocolate to start the temper over)
- Dip the bottoms of the bars in the chocolate and place on a sheet of wax paper to set
- When all bars have been dipped, drizzle with remaining chocolate