For the shortbread layer: For the coconut-caramel layer:
  • 2 1/2 c unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3 1/2 Tbl water
  • 3 Tbl unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 c caramel bits (or unwrap approx 40 Kraft Caramels)
For the chocolate topping:
  • 9 oz semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips


Preheat and prepare. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x8 square-sized baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper, leaving extra to overhang for handles. Set aside. Make the shortbread. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and butter until the mixture resembles dry sand. Add the vanilla and water and pulse again. The mixture will begin to come together into a ball. Transfer to the prepared baking pan, pressing the mixture evenly onto the bottom. I find the mixture to be a little sticky, so I use a separate small piece of parchment or wax paper to lay on top of the dough first, then press into an even layer. Remove the extra parchment and bake shortbread for 14-15 minutes or just until the edges begin to lightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Make the coconut-caramel filling. First toast the coconut. In a large nonstick skillet, toast the coconut flakes over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the coconut is lightly browned. Remove from the heat and let cool. Set aside 1/4 cup of the toasted coconut. In a small saucepan, combine the caramel bits, water, and butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel bits melt into a smooth sauce. Do not let this mixture boil. Remove from heat and stir in all but the reserved 1/4 cup of the toasted coconut. Gently fold together the coconut and caramel until well coated. Spoon over the shortbread and smooth in an even layer. Top with reserved toasted coconut. Let the bar cookies set up at least an hour or two at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Top with chocolate. Melt the chocolate in a flat-bottomed microwave-safe bowl for 1-2 minutes at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds or until smooth. If you refrigerated the bars, pull them out 10 minutes before you begin to cut them so they come to room temperature. Pull the cookie bars from the baking pan using the parchment handles; remove parchment. Cut into 16 squares. Carefully dip the shortbread bottoms into the chocolate then use a spatula to scrape away excess chocolate before placing on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet to set up. Repeat with remaining bars. Spoon leftover melted chocolate into a small zip top plastic bag and trim a tiny corner off to make a piping bag. Drizzle tops of the bars with chocolate. Let set up for 30 minutes at room temperature or place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Makes 16 bars. Idea. Make super cute mini samoa bites for a party. Instead of slicing these into 16 bars, why not make bite-sized treats instead? Slice the 16 bars into quarters, then dip the bottoms in chocolate and drizzle the tops. Cute!