Grain Free Samoa Bars

Grain Free Samoa Bars

It’s Girl Scout cookie season. People are walking around with goofy grins, Do-Si-Do crumbs on their shirts, stupid Thin-Min-covered fingers, Tagalong-scented breath, and boxes of Samoas stuffed in their sock drawers so that no one else will get THEIR cookies. Or is this just me?

And who came up with those names anyways? Do-Si-Do? Tagalong? What is a Samoa even?

Grain Free Samoa Bars

But in reality I’m jealous. Seethingly jealous. I can’t have any of them. I just stare with dark, wide-eyed, frothing and foaming desire.

But this year, the ol’ Girl Scouts gave the gluten-free crowd a consolation prize and came out with a GF cookie. I was pumped, until I found out it was a shortbread. Womp womp. Really? Shortbread?  That all you got? No badge for you! Get back in the kitchen. TRY AGAIN.

Grain Free Samoa Bars

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Never fear. After being challenged by a friend that Grain Free Samoas would not be good, I woke up on Saturday morning with a mission. A cookie mission.

These cookies deserve a badge! A medal! An Oscar, even! They make you THINK they are the real deal, but alas…they have no wheat, no grains, no processed sugar. Ya…SUCK IT TRABECK!

Grain Free Samoa Bars

Instead of making single cookie-disks, I opted for bars. Because seriously, these puppies disappear so quickly into your mouth that cutting out little stupid tire shaped cookies is not worth it. Lets save time. Let’s make bars! The shortbread crust is perfect and crisp. I saved even more time by not dipping each bar in chocolate and instead spread the chocolate layer between the shortbread crust and the caramel coconut layer. The caramel coconut layer is a delicious concoction of honey and a smidge of molasses that has been cooked down to an amber-caramel-heavenly syrup.

These do take a bit of time to make each part. But the wait and work is WELL worth it. So make a batch, hide several (because they will go fast if you share them), turn on the Oscars, grab a yummy Samoa bar, and do your best Matthew McConaughey impersonation….”alright, alright, alright”.

Grain Free Samoa Bars

Grain Free Samoa Bars

Makes 16 small bars

Shortbread Crust Ingredients (inspired by Deliciously Organic)

  • 1 1/2 Cup almond flour (such as Honeyville)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

Chocolate Layer

  • 1 Cup semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped

Coconut Caramel Topping (adapted from Against All Grains)

  • 1/2 Cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup coconut milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Cups unsweetened shredded coconut

Chocolate Drizzle

  • 1/2 Cup semisweet or dark chocolate

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place parchment paper in the bottom of an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl until just combined. The mixture will be crumbly. Press the crust evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile, place the unsweetened coconut on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. Place on the top rack to toast. Toast the coconut for about 5 to 7 minutes, keeping an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. Remove the toasted coconut from oven when golden brown and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  4. After the crust is finished baking, pull the crust from the oven. Turn the oven off. Sprinkle 1 cup of chopped chocolate onto the warm crust. Place back into the warm oven for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a rubber spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the shortbread crust. Set on a wire rack and allow to cool. Place in refrigerator after cooled.
  5. For the caramel sauce, place honey and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low bubbling boil for about 7 minutes, swirling frequently to caramelize evenly. Remove from heat and stir in butter, coconut milk, and salt until smooth and completely combined. Stir in toasted coconut.
  6. Remove cooled shortbread crust from the refrigerator. Spread the coconut caramel mixture on top of the chocolate covered crust.
  7. Microwave remaining chocolate in a microwave safe dish for about 2 to 3 minutes, in 30 second intervals, stirring in between intervals. Once the chocolate is completely melted, drizzle the chocolate (using a spoon or fork) over the Samoa bars. Cool bars completely in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  8. Use parchment paper to pull out the bars from the baking dish. Place on a cutting board and cut into 12 to 16 bars. Place bar in hand and shove into mouth. Mmmmm. 🙂

Grain-Free Hazelnut-Pecan Delights

First things first. I have some amazing news. I received my official notification in the mail that I passed my Professional Engineering exam!!!!  A grueling exam that I studied for nearly half a year for last year. It consumed me, but was worth it.  I now am a certified P.E., which has been a huge goal of mine. CHECK that off my bucket list.

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But now that I have checked that huuuuuge goal off of my list, I find myself at a bit of a loss. Where do I focus my energy next?  I’m a goal-oriented person and it only seems proper to set new goals. But aside from the small goals of “read more books” or “travel more”, I just can’t seem to figure out where to point my laser beams. So, if you have any ideas, I’m game.

At this point, I’m trying to tackle small things that include: (1) Organizing my “office” (junk room), or (2) Thinking about hanging pictures that have never been hung, or (3) Properly learning to do laundry because reading the labels seems more like reading hieroglyphics and I end up just throwing everything in at once and washing on cold. Evidently when clothes say gentle…they mean it. Booh.

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I also have been perfecting cookies….my butt thanks me and my skinny jeans do not. These Hazelnut-Pecan Delights are THE perfect cookie. They are just sweet enough, with a hint of salty, and are chewy and are….well….redonculous. Yes…redonculous, people.

They taste like my favorite Girl Scout cookie….oh that beloved Caramel Delight…and yes…they are soooo delightful.  The bonus with MY cookies is that they are gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. Plus they have hazelnuts and pecans, giving them added protein.

These are perfect to bring to your New Years Eve party, or football Bowl Game watch party, or for your last-hoorah-before-you-go-on-you-2013-fit-back-in-your-jeans party.

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Grain-Free Hazelnut-Pecan Delights

Makes 2 dozen tiny, bite-sized cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or other raw nut such as almonds, walnuts)
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, softened
  • 4 Tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tablespoon unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
  2. In a the bowl of your food processor, add nuts and process for 2 minutes, until finely ground.  Add ground ginger, salt, and baking soda and process until well mixed. Add coconut oil, honey, and molasses and process until a thick cookie dough ball forms. Add chocolate chips and shredded coconut to the food process or and pulse for 15 to 30 seconds to finely chop the chocolate, distributing throughout the cookie batter.
  3. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, making it easier to scoop and form cookies.
  4. I like these cookies tiny and barely bite-sized.  Scoop out the dough in exact, level tablespoons. Then tear those pieces of dough in two before rolling each 1/2 tablespoon of dough into a ball shape.  Place dough a few inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Use a wet fork to flatten each dough ball into your desired cookie thickness.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until firm around the edges (ovens vary so watch them), but still soft in the center. Allow to cool on the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.