Black Bottom Samoa Cookie Bars


from ButterYum
makes 24 servings

20 tablespoons unsalted butter, softenened
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 cups shredded coconut, toasted (directions below)
12 ounces chewy caramels (plus extra for snacking)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 tablespoons whole milk
10 ounces melted semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

To make the shortbread crust:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Make the crust by combining the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle or BeaterBlade attachment; mix for 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla; mix well.  Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt to the butter/sugar mixture on low speed; mix just until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.  Using well floured hands, press dough into ungreased 9x13 metal cake pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, then cool while you make the filling. 

To make the filling:
Reduce oven temperature to 300F.  Toast the coconut in a single layer on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes, tossing once or twice.  Remove from sheet pan and allow to cool slightly.  Next place a glass or metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and gently heat the caramels, milk, and salt until the caramels are completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in toasted coconut; spread evenly over shortbread crust.  Allow the cool completely before cutting into 24 bars (clean knife blade between cuts to contain crumb mess).

To decorate:
Gently melt the chocolate and brush the bottom of each bar, then place on parchment or silpat liner.  Pipe or drizzle remaining chocolate over the top of the bars.  Refrigerate for a few minutes until chocolate firms.

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