At one point in my life, I was a Girl Scout and sold Girl Scout cookies. I remember being completely obsessed with Caramel deLites (or Samoas). The buttery shortbread, salty caramel, chewy coconut, and sweet chocolate confections were delicious!
Since it is the Girl Scout cookie time of year, I set out to recreate a gluten-free, vegan version of this childhood favorite. Mimicking the same shortbread, cooconut, caramel, and chocolate combination, these cookies are utterly delicious but void of any gluten, dairy, or partially-hydrogenated anything. Dates get the job done for the caramel and vegan chocolate takes the place of milk chocolate. Flaked, unsweetened coconut stands in for sweetened coconut and the shortbread are a deliciously crumbly concoction made from oat and coconut flour. I purchased a special cookie cutter to replicate the hole-in-center cookies, but you can definitely skip this step if you prefer and go for round cookies. (Or roll out dough and shape into a circle using a peanut butter jar lid for the outer circle and a water bottle cap for the inner circle.) Any way you cut them, these cookies are amazing!
Gluten-Free Vegan Caramel Delights
makes 15-20 cookies
Gluten-Free Vegan Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 2/3 cup oat flour
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 tsp small grain sea salt (regular salt can be substituted)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover two 9×11 baking sheets with parchment paper or cooking spray.
- Whip vegan butter in a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment (or beat with electric beaters) until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add coconut sugar to vegan butter, whip another 2 minutes until fully incorporated and fluffy.
- Add vanilla extract to butter mixture, whip for another minute.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, mix together oat flour, coconut flour, and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine.
- Add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating with paddle attachment (or beaters) just until combined (mixture will be dry and crumbly).
- Remove paddle/beaters from dough. Using clean hands, form dough into a ball. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to firm up.
- If using cookie cutters, on a clean, lightly (gluten-free) floured surface, drop dough and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Gently use cookie cutters to shape cookies and place onto prepared baking sheets. Re-roll remnants of dough and repeat this process (chill dough in refrigerator if it becomes too soft). If you are not using cookie cutters, you can skip the rolling and just take about 1.5 tbsps of dough per cookie and flatten into a disc. Place discs onto prepared baking sheets.
- Bake cookies for 11-12 minutes until done (cookies should yield only slightly to touch and be golden brown in color). Avoid over-baking.
- Let cool for 5 minutes on baking pan, transfer to a cooling rack.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Sauce
- 6 oz non-dairy chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 tsp coconut oil
- Stovetop: combine chocolate chips with coconut oil in the top saucepan of a double broiler. Cook chocolate over boiling water until melted, stirring constantly. Remove from heat immediately after melting. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Or:
- Microwave: combine chocolate chips and coconut oil in a medium bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each session, until melted.
Naturally-Sweetened Caramel Sauce
- 1 1/4 cup pitted Medjool dates
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp small grain sea salt (regular salt can be substituted)
- 5 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- In high-speed blender: combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Starting with blender on low speed, gradually increase speed until mixture is fully combined. Or:
- In food processor: pulse dates until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients, process until fully combined.
Gluten-Free Vegan Caramel Delights
makes 16-18 cookies
- 1 batch Vegan Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies, recipe above
- 1 batch Dairy-Free Chocolate Sauce, recipe above
- 1/4-1/2 cup (depending how thick you like your caramel layer) Naturally-Sweetened Caramel Sauce ,recipe above
- 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- On a 9×11 baking sheet, evenly spread out flaked coconut.
- Bake coconut until toasted, about 5-7 minutes, watching closely. (This can burn quickly.) Oven can now be turned off.
- Prepare a cooled baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Line up shortbread cookies evenly on baking sheet. Gather two forks and a small bowl of Non-Dairy Chocolate Sauce next to prepared baking sheet.
- Carefully dunk bottom of cookie into chocolate sauce, being careful not to fully immerse. Use forks to carefully remove cookie from chocolate. Please cookie, chocolate side up, onto baking sheet. Set aside remaining chocolate (will be used for top-of-cookie drizzle).
- Continue this process until all cookies have been dipped in chocolate. Place baking sheet in freezer for 5-10 minutes to allow chocolate to firm up.
- Remove cookies from freezer, turn cookies over so shortbread side is exposed.
- Using a butter knife, carefully coat top of shortbread cookie with thin (or thick- your choice) layer of Naturally-Sweetened Caramel Sauce. Reserve 1/4 cup of Caramel Sauce.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of Caramel Sauce with toasted coconut.
- Press a thin layer of the toasted coconut mixture onto each cookie’s caramel coating.
- Using a fork (or pastry piping bag), drizzle each cookie with Non-Dairy Chocolate Sauce.
- Place in the freezer for another 5-10 minutes to firm up.
- Enjoy!!!!! (Cookies can be stored in refrigerator for up to one week.)