Homemade Samoa Bars

adapted from baking bites

Cookie Base:

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.

To make  the base, in a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. Do not over mix. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Poke holes in several places throughout the pan of dough using a fork.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

Topping:

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

12-oz good-quality chewy caramels

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp milk or cream

10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden, about 10-15 minutes. Make sure to check often because coconut burns quickly. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. (You can also use a double boiler, it just takes a little longer)

Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.

When cooled, cut into bars.