For many people, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year — but in my opinion, the most wonderful time of the year comes shortly after the new year. I’m of course talking about Girl Scout cookie season.
I can hear the children selling overpriced cookies while the smell of Samoas floats through the air. More times than I’d like to admit, I have found myself making excuses to visit a Home Depot knowing they would be waiting for me outside.
Unfortunately, cookie season doesn’t come in time for all of your holiday festivities. The earliest it begins is in January, and it’s much later in some locations. In spite of this poor scheduling by your local troop, I have a simple fix: Make your own.
My personal favorite are the Samoa cookies, and I’ve learned how to make a DIY version with just four simple ingredients. The key is dulce de leche. Dulce de leche is Latin America’s take on a classic caramel. It’s made by slowly simmering a can of sweetened condensed milk for two to three hours until it reaches the color and consistency of caramel. Luckily, most grocery stores sell it premade, so all the hard work is done for you.
To keep these cookies gluten-free and to save time, I skip the shortbread cookie layer. I find it too labor-intensive and it really isn’t necessary when there’s so much flavor in the other ingredients. I make these cookies by stirring together toasted coconut flakes, canned dulce de leche and whipped egg whites. I then shape them into cookies and bake them for about 20 minutes. After they’re cooled, I dip them in melted chocolate and garnish with flaky sea salt.
And just like that, you have a very simple dessert that’s not only delicious but ridiculously easy — and a whole lot cheaper than those purple boxes.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.
1 (13-ounce) can of dulce de leche
2 large egg whites
10 ounces unsweetened shredded coconut
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt, optional
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Add coconut flakes to sheet tray and bake until toasted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Check it frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. Let cool for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, add egg whites to a large, clean bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat until they’re stiff and shiny. Set aside. NOTE: This can also be done in a stand mixer.
4. In a large bowl, stir together cooled, toasted coconut with dulce de leche. Then gently fold in whipped egg whites.
5. Shape into 2 1/2-inch rounds and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove to wire rack to let cool.
6. Add chocolate chips to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes at 50% power, in 30-second intervals, until completely melted and smooth.
7. Dip cooled cookies in chocolate and garnish with flaky sea salt.
8. Let chocolate harden before serving.