We all look forward to the annual Girl Scout cookie time—when the Samoas with their delicious (and dangerous!) combination of chocolate, caramel, and coconut are available. These bars are the grown-up version of that cookie, with chocolate drizzled over the porter caramel, toasted coconut, and a bed of sweet, buttery shortbread.
Active preparation time: 40 minutes
Total time: 24 hours
Makes: One 9" x 13" (23 x 30 cm) pan
2 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
16 Tbs (2 sticks) butter
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
2–3 Tbs (1–1½ fl oz/30–45 ml) water
To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor. Pulse until the butter is pea-sized. Add the vanilla extract and water, and continue to pulse until a crumbly dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and form it into a disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
Lightly butter a 9" x 13" (23 x 30 cm) pan. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about a ¼-inch (6 cm) thickness and carefully place it in the pan. Trim any excess dough and prick the bottom with a fork. Chill for another twenty minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
Cover the dough with foil and fill with baking weights. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and baking weights and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
If your time is limited, you can substitute BeerKissed’s Scotch Porter Caramel Sauce.
¾ cup (6 fl oz/177 ml) water
3 cup sugar
¼ cup (2 fl oz/59 ml) corn syrup
2 1/2 cup (20 fl oz/591 ml) heavy cream
3 cup (24 fl oz/710 ml) New Belgium Portage Porter
8 Tbs (1 stick) butter, cubed
¾ tsp salt
½ cup flaked coconut, lightly toasted
½ cup dark or bittersweet chocolate
In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce the porter by about half, then remove from the heat, but keep warm.
In a medium saucepan, heat the water, sugar, and corn syrup. Keep a pastry brush with some water nearby to brush down the sides of the pan and avoid crystallization throughout the caramelization process. Cook the sugar mixture until it turns a medium amber color. Be careful—the caramel can quickly burn. As the mixture gets closer to the right color, warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan and just barely bring it to a simmer.
When the mixture is the proper color, remove the pan from the heat and very slowly add the cream. Work slowly and carefully; the cream will bubble up, and the steam will be very hot.
After all the cream is incorporated, add the beer reduction and whisk until smooth, then add the butter and whisk until smooth, and finally, add the salt and whisk to incorporate. Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture up to 245°F (118°C) (a candy thermometer is very handy for this recipe). As soon as the mixture reaches temperature, remove the pan from the heat and pour the caramel over the shortbread crust. Top with the coconut and let the caramel set overnight before cutting into bars.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl on top of a small pan with 2" (5 cm) of water. Bring the water to a simmer, stirring the chocolate until it is melted. When chocolate is melted, drizzle it over the cut bars. Let the chocolate set before serving.
Beer Suggestions: Pair with the remaining New Belgium Portage Porter (Fort Collins, Colorado). You might also try Ballast Point Victory at Sea (San Diego, California) DuClaw Brewing Company Sweet Baby Jesus! (Baltimore, Maryland), or Deschutes Black Butte Porter (Bend, Oregon).
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PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER CINA