Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pie Revisited (and a Cobbler)

You may have noticed a several month silence in this little corner of the internet. I attribute the unintentional break to a combination of all of my boys returning to school this past fall, a bit of baking/blogging burn out and, quite possibly, just a bit of general malaise. To be honest, I began to question whether Bake Somebody Happy had run it's course. With 46 pies lovingly made and distributed in just over two years, maybe it was time to close up shop.

But then, as He so often does, God went ahead and inserted Himself. During a sermon this past October, our head pastor, Brad Franklin, spoke on the topic of allowing Jesus to use our gifts to surprise others. "Everything Jesus did surprised somebody! What if Jesus wanted his next surprise to come through you?...How would you surprise the people around you? What would He do through you? Look for redemptive moments with the people in your network and see what Jesus does. Maybe it will be surprising."

As is my usual (albeit pitiful) response when God reaches out and grabs ahold of me, I questioned whether or not I had heard Him correctly. Fortunately (and not so subtly), my husband confirmed that God was in fact prompting me to return to baking. So I did the next natural thing - I began to negotiate with God, presenting all the reasons He surely should rethink this whole thing.

And then, exactly one month later, I got an email from a virtual stranger - a friend of a family member - requesting of all things, a pie (or rather a cobbler). A simple peach cobbler for a dear friend - a young husband and father of three with twins on the way - dying of cancer. A cobbler for what may very well be his last Thanksgiving. Just when I thought maybe I had made my point, God went ahead and surprised me...again.

Three peach cobblers and several blind taste tests later, I had literally tied the bow on Bake Somebody Happy's first ever cobbler and renewed my heart for this humble pie blog. I pray that my first cobbler finds its recipient truly surprised and wrapped in the love of God, friends and family. I am so humbled and thankful to be part of fulfilling this simple Thanksgiving wish.

Here's to surprises!
"You are surrounded by people and you could feed them. And you could be like Jesus in that process. What kind of ordinary miracle might happen if we just fed people?" - Brad Franklin

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mr. Jordan's (Honors) English Toffee Pie

With junior high and it's braces and thick, plastic-rimmed glasses a thing of the past, high school provided the perfect opportunity to reinvent myself. But, I needed a "thing." Seeing as how I wasn't the least bit athletic, the field was narrowed considerably. So, I did what any other self-respecting brainiac would do - I applied to be a staff member of the school's prestigious yearbook - the Decamhian (or Del Campo High Annual).

Within minutes of joining the staff, I was a full-fledged "yerd" (what the crazy young kids these days are calling "yearbook nerds"). I loved everything about it - the instant social group, the feeling of being needed, the growing confidence in myself and my talents and - perhaps most of all - Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Jordan was just plain cool. He was young(ish), was known to dye his goatee various shades of gold and blue in honor of our school colors, allowed the staff to keep a ten pound chocolate bar in the freezer for the duration of a school year and even had a couch in his classroom. (Coincidentally, my husband now has a couch in his media classroom, a la Jim Jordan.)

When junior year rolled around, I found myself spending two periods a day with Mr. Jordan - yearbook and Honors English. Under his guidance, I learned to love writing and really began to read for the first time since The Baby-Sitters Club. Suddenly the classics - Hamlet and The Great Gatsby - weren't so intimidating. I fell in love with Sylvia Plath - both as a woman and a poet - as I painstakingly wrote my most thorough term paper to date. 

By my senior year, I had graduated to yearbook Editor-in-Chief and Mr. Jordan was beginning to feel more like my third parent than a teacher. Given all the early mornings, after school deadline cram sessions and Saturday work days, I easily spent more time with him than my own parents. Yearbook was indeed my second family.
Somehow that little classroom - Room 17, hidden in the far back righthand corner of the school - opened up the world to me. I was so fortunate to be able to travel with my yearbook peers - to summer camp at UC Santa Cruz, to San Francisco and Chicago for Journalism Association Education conventions and to Kansas City to see our very own book being printed at the publishing plant. Thanks to yearbook, I even got to attend a taping of the Oprah show (sure, it was the Bryant Gumbel episode, but still...Oprah)!
Following graduation, I boarded a plane and jumped the pond to spend a week in London, celebrating the opening season of the new Globe Theater with a group of fellow graduates. While many of my classmates basked in the sun and most likely partied a little too hard in Cabo, I ate fish and chips, toured Westminster Abbey and attended his birthplace. Through Mr. Jordan's supervision (and my parents' checkbook), I learned that the world was so much bigger than my high school campus.
So, imagine my surprise when my husband began advising for his middle school yearbook a couple of years back! Immediately, I went into editor overdrive - offering opinions on cover options, photo quality and caption content (albeit, unsolicited). And after combing through that first year's proofs, frantically circling and editing with my red pen, I was once again forced to retire from yearbook, due to....shall we say "creative differences" (if only because it sounds so much better than "I was too bossy.")

So much of who I am today is a direct result of the life lessons I learned in that yearbook room seventeen years ago. Yearbook (and Mr. Jordan, more specifically) taught me to use my voice, to have confidence in my writing and to lead a group without (hopefully) ticking everyone off. In my life as a thirty-something, the manifestation of those lessons look a little less like producing an award-winning book and a bit more like blogging and leading my own two little people as a stay-at-home mom. But, I will be forever grateful to the man who took a chance on a painfully shy sophomore and gave her the opportunity to blossom into a confident leader, published author and (wannabe) world traveler. And that is absolutely deserving of a pie - Mr. Jordan's (Honor's) English Toffee Pie, to be exact.

Naturally, I began by preparing the most important component of an English Toffee Pie - the toffee. The reason being twofold, really - toffee requires ample time to cool and, in doing so, I would create myself a little sweet treat to snack on whilst baking.

So, I melted even parts butter and granulated sugar, a sprinkle of salt and just a touch of water and stirred until the mixture reached a low boil. Once the toffee had turned a golden caramel color, I removed the pan from the heat and whisked in a splash of homemade vanilla extract gifted by a dear friend. I poured the warm, sticky toffee out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, waited impatiently for it to cool enough to handle and helped myself to a taste...or six.
In keeping with the English theme, I opted to use tea cookies in lieu of a standard graham cracker crust. I finely processed shortbread cookies and added just enough melted butter to help the crumble hold its shape before pressing the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a pie tin (and a couple of muffin tin cups for good measure). Then I placed the crust into the oven to bake until aromatic, toasty and lightly golden brown.
While the crust blind baked, I began my ganache, melting equal parts semisweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream until smooth. Such a fancy word for such a simple process.
I poured warm ganache into the cooled cookie crust and sprinkled a generous handful (or two) of chocolate toffee bit crumbles over the entire pie before placing it into the freezer to chill.
Did you know you can make your own dulce de leche caramel just by submerging an entire unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in your crock pot for eight hours? Apparently, you totally can. Unless, like me, you accidentally purchase a can of evaporated milk. In which case, you end up with...warm evaporated milk.

But then, you find this gem in the international aisle of the grocery store, slather copious amounts atop the pie, lick the spatula and wonder why you ever even bothered with Pinterest caramel anyway. Because it is that good. 
So, with my caramel debacle behind me and a lovely layered pie chilling, I began my favorite finishing touch - homemade whipped cream. Using my trusty handheld mixer, I whipped heavy cream and a bit of powered sugar until stiff peaks formed. It really is that easy.
Finally, a scattering of toffee shards and the haphazard application of both chocolate and caramel drizzles - and there you have it - Mr. Jordan's (Honors) English Toffee Pie.
Yearbook, for me, was so much more than layouts and copy and captions. It was more than the book itself, even. It was an opportunity to learn just who it was I really wanted to be.

I was blessed to spend three years with a teacher, advisor, mentor and friend gently pushing me onward and giving me permission to believe in myself. I can only hope that my boys are lucky enough to have a teacher as supportive and invested in them as Mr. Jordan was of me. And, hey...if they want to join yearbook, I won't stop them.
"So learn about life. Cut yourself a big slice with the silver server, a big slice of pie. Open your eyes. Let life happen." - Sylvia Plath
9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)
8 tablespoons butter, melted

9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)
8 tablespoons butter, melted

9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)
8 tablespoons butter, melted

9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)
8 tablespoons butter, melted

9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)
8 tablespoons butter, melted



9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)

8 tablespoons butter, melted

Toffee sauce:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar (preferably dark)

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

8 tablespoons butter

1 + 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 medium bananas, ripe but firm

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crust, line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (or deep dish pie pan) with parchment paper. Blend the graham crackers in a food processor until they are finely ground and combine well with the butter, they should stick together when pressed. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom and 1½ – 2 inches up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 8 minutes.
  2. To make the toffee sauce combine the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water in a medium-heavy saucepan over medium low heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Increase heat until the sugar boils, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Whisk in the condensed milk and butter, continue whisking/stirring for five minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
  3. Remove from the heat and spread 1 cup of the sauce over the prepared crust, including the sides, refrigerate for about 1/2 hour or until the caramel is semi-firm. Keep the remaining caramel sauce at room temperature.
  4. Using an electric or stand mixer, beat the cream until thick and very soft billowy peaks form. Thinly slice bananas into discs and fold into the whipped cream. Spoon into pie crust. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
  5. Rewarm the remaining toffee sauce gently over low heat, cool to lukewarm and drizzle or spread over top of pie. (Add a tablespoon of milk if sauce seems to thick). Refrigerate another 1/2 hour before serving.
  6. Best eaten immediately or within 24-36 hours. Additional bananas can be sliced over top right before serving.

9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)
8 tablespoons butter, melted

9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)
8 tablespoons butter, melted

9 ounces graham crackers or Maria cookies (I used the dulce de leche flavor)
8 tablespoons butter, melted


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Megan's Sweet and Salty Sweet Potato Pie

When I contemplated sending my oldest son to kindergarten last fall, I had all the typical misgivings of a first-time mother sending her little one out into the world. Would he miss me? Would he learn as quickly as the other children? And maybe most importantly - would he make friends? But one thing that completely escaped my growing list of worries, was...would I?

At a time of life already filled with so much inherent change - new schedules, priorities, opportunities and interests - I never really stopped to think that my own friendships may also change. Much to my surprise, kindergarten (of all places) has opened up a whole new world socially for me. And in the center of all of that is Megan.

I met Megan in the first couple weeks of school, eagerly waiting outside the kindergarten playground for our oldest kiddos to be dismissed. She was warm and friendly, always put together (but not pretentiously so) and the perfect amount of edgy to keep you on your toes. She, too, was a stay-at-home Mommy with a younger son in tow, and as our conversations deepened, so too did our friendship. Soon, I found myself looking forward to morning drop off, if only to chat with Megan.

Despite my somewhat protective reluctance to admit it, it appeared that Megan was also making a conscious effort to include me in her life outside of school hours. She readily extended invitations to dinner at her home, shopping dates and girls' night out happy hours. Before long, Megan and I fell into a comfortable routine of before school park play dates, daily texts and weekly bagel lunches with the littlest guys.
But this past year has not been without hiccups. Early in October, just as I was hitting my stride as a mother of a school-aged child, I fell and broke my foot. Among other things - like helping out in the classroom and chaperoning field trips - I worried that I might also lose the momentum of several new friendships. But Megan made every effort to keep me in the loop. She brought me yummy treats and the type of juicy gossip magazine I would never buy myself. She kept me company when I literally could not move from my couch, assured me that no one noticed my unshaven legs and even spearheaded dragging me out in public - embarrassing scooter and all - for my first "normal" outing to brunch and Target.

Megan deserves a pie for so many reasons - her generous spirit, a milestone birthday and not the least of which...that I love her to pieces. But - just like Megan - her pie had to walk the line between sweet and salty. After all, she is the perfect combination of warm hugs and maternal giving, with just a hint of potty mouth thrown in for pizzaz.

Because Megan is one of those rare breeds that doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, I knew I needed to up the savory quotient when baking her pie. As inspiration, I turned to a couple of our favorite happy hour treats - sweet potato fries and goat cheese sandwiches...with a salty twist, of course. And that's how Megan's Sweet and Salty Sweet Potato Pie was born.

I began by preparing a salty crust, using Kettle Chips as a base. In the food processor, I pulsed an entire "sharing size" bag of Sea Salt flavor chips - primarily because "sharing size" just seemed so appropriate for the heart of Bake Somebody Happy.
Once ground into a fine crumb, I added melted butter and a bit of flour to combine the mixture into a moist crumble. Using the bottom of a juice glass, I firmly pressed the potato chip crust into the bottom and up the sides of a pie tin before transferring it into a preheated oven to bake.
But, that's when things got tricky. You see, I had never tried my hand at baking a sweet potato pie. Scratch that - I had never even had so much as a bite of a sweet potato pie.

And that's when I remembered that my brother John had just happened to mention he had a tried and true recipe of his own. So, I promptly texted and asked him if he wouldn't mind me stealing and most likely outing his "top secret" sweet potato tricks here on the blog for all the world to see (or rather the handful of people that bother to follow such pie nonsense). And, of course - because he is an awesome big brother - he obliged.

So, while the salty crust cooled, I tended to the star of the show - the sweet potatoes. Placing several medium sweet potatoes in a large pot, I cooked them at a low boil until fork tender. Once cool enough to handle, I gently slipped the sweet potato flesh out of their jackets and mashed them.
To the mashed sweet potato, I added brown sugar (I mean, savory or not, what is a pie without at least a little bit of sugar?), softened butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ground ginger, coriander and freshly grated nutmeg.
Using my trusty handheld mixer, I whisked the puree until light and fluffy before adding in the egg yolks - straight from the coop. I topped off the sweet potato mixture with a touch of evaporated milk and just enough gelatin to stabilize the filling.
Then for the surprise element of this pie - my brother's "super top secret" trick to a perfectly light texture - the meringue. I beat the remaining egg whites at high speed, adding a tablespoon of granulated sugar at a time, until stiff peaks formed. Then I gently folded the meringue into the potato mixture and spooned the entire sweet and spiced filling into the pie shell.
Into the oven to bake until just set with only a slight jiggle in the center and - voila - my very first sweet potato pie!

Once the pie had cooled, I looked at it's golden nakedness and just knew it needed a savory twist in lieu of the traditional mini marshmallows. Using our happy hour fare as inspiration once again, I settled on a rosemary goat cheese spread, combining softened cream cheese, goat cheese, a splash of heavy cream, sea salt and a bit of finely chopped fresh rosemary. I opted to use a piping bag to apply the goat cheese in a haphazard field of rosettes.
As anyone who has known me for more than five minutes could probably tell you, I don't like change. And this past year, with all of it's twists and turns, has really stretched me to grow in some less than comfortable ways. But, I couldn't have asked for anyone better than Megan to be by my side.

Gradually, I am learning to embrace change - in my routine, in my children (ok - I still may be working on that one) and in friendship. And Megan's friendship, in particularly, has taught me that sometimes change brings something so much sweeter...and if you're really lucky - with just a touch of salt.
"What I say is that, if a (wo)man really likes potatoes, (s)he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow." - A.A. Milne

Monday, February 3, 2014

Dr. O'Malley's Strawberries and Cream Allergen Pie

In the six years that my boys have been seen by Dr. O'Malley, he has performed circumcisions, given physicals, administered nebulizer treatments, prescribed antibiotics, ordered lab work and made referrals to specialists. But what really makes him so dear to us is that with each visit, he has shown love and compassion for our growing little family. Without hesitation, I can say that we have never felt anything but love and care from Dr. O'Malley - even when we may have been, at times, problem patients.

As a general rule, I'm not much a fan of doctors. In fact, I can't recall ever having a doctor of my own that I even liked on a personal level - much less one that I deemed "pie worthy." But because I know how much our pediatrician loves my boys (and in all fairness - most likely all of his patients), I have complete trust in him and his professional advice, in addition to the utmost respect for him as a person.

Time after time, I have found myself sitting in the examining room, faced with a difficult decision, asking, "What would you do if it was your child?" (And with one of my children in particular, there seem to be more choices than I have ever cared to make.) Even my husband Will, who rarely misses a pediatrician appointment - possibly because of how much he likes Dr. O'Malley, but in all likelihood because he is just such an awesome Daddy - has even voiced that we have two mentors when it comes to parenting: God and Dr. O'Malley.

On a personal level, there are very few people that have seen me as vulnerable as Dr. O'Malley has. Early on in this parenting thing, he reassured Will and I that - despite multiple and successive trips to the ER - our oldest was not in fact going to die from asthma. He comforted me when exclusively breastfeeding my youngest just wasn't in the cards anymore. And he listened patiently through my tears to my increasing frustration over one of my children's (who shall remain nameless) defiant and disruptive behavior. All without making me feel foolish or judged - and for that, I am especially grateful.

So, with an upcoming well-child appointment quickly approaching, I knew it was time to make a pie for Dr. O'Malley. And given our history, an "allergen pie" just seemed to make the most sense. You see, over the years, my oldest son has had allergic reactions to a whole slew of foods. Although most have since resolved, Wilson's diet has at various times been cow's milk, egg and/or nut free. As an infant, there was the blood test that showed positive reactions to cow's milk, egg whites and peanuts. Months later, there was the reaction to the flu shot at the injection site (most likely caused by egg whites). Not to be outdone by
hives and dramatically swollen facial features in response to cinnamon and again (only this time with the addition of labored breathing - yeah, that was scary) in response to strawberries. So, what do you get when you mix strawberries, cinnamon and milk? Why, Dr. O'Malley's Strawberries and Cream Allergen Pie, of course!

The obvious choice was to begin with a strawberry pie base and add as many of our known allergy triggers as possible - all the while attempting to keep it tasty, of course.

We began with a graham cracker crust - partially because graham crackers seemed like a natural for a pediatrician - and partially because it would be the perfect vehicle to sneak in the first allergen - cinnamon. 

My little sous chef's began by crushing a whole sleeve of honey graham crackers in the blender, negotiating feverishly for whose turn it was to push the button first. Once we had ourselves a thoroughly ground bowlful of crumbs, we added a dash of cinnamon, a spoonful of cocoa powder and a bit of granulated sugar before stirring in the melted butter. 
When the mixture held together in a moist crumble, we emptied the bowl into a pie dish, using a juice glass to press the crust firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the tin.

While our crust baked and then sat on the counter to cool, the boys and I prepared the pie filling - a riff on strawberries and cream in our attempt to incorporate two more allergens: strawberries and cow's milk. 

My little guys eagerly returned to their favorite Mommy-approved appliance - the blender - to process a pint of ripe, hulled strawberries until finely pureed. 
Then the boys took turns using the handheld mixer (with a fair amount of supervision) to blend sweetened condensed milk - our fancier version of "cow's milk" - with a carton of softened cream cheese, a splash of vanilla extract and the strawberry puree. I just love to watch their confidence and independence in using kitchen appliances grow - a precursor to the allure of power tools, I suppose.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, we beat heavy whipping cream into soft peaks and gently folded it into the strawberry filling. Of course, there was the usual begging for a "taste" - thank goodness we aren't allergic to strawberries anymore!
We spooned the light and airy strawberry and cream filling into the cooled, pre-baked graham cracker shell and placed the whole pie into the fridge to chill before decorating.
Once cooled, we beat the remaining whipping cream with a bit of powdered sugar to pipe onto the top in a decorative pattern (okay, this was mainly Mommy's job) before topping off the pie with several whole strawberries. 
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Grab a 9″ spring form pan. To make the crust, process the first 5 ingredients (except the butter) in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer 1½ cups to a large bowl, and add the melted butter. Press the crumbs into your pan using the bottom of a ¼ cup measure to evenly press down the mixture. Bake in the oven (center rack) for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool completely before adding the filling. Note: store the rest of your graham cracker crumbs in a container or Ziploc bag for later use. For every 1½ cups, add 6 tbsp. of melted unsalted butter and bake as directed. - See more at:
Whipped cream
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • ¼ c. apricot jam, warmed (optional)
- See more at:
With the exception of egg whites and peanuts, which I think just might have been a tad bit overboard (although, I did toy with the idea of peanut butter and strawberry jelly...or even strawberry meringue) I think we came up with a little something that symbolizes our appreciation for Dr. O'Malley, while still being edible (fingers crossed).
When you bring these perfect, new, little people home from the hospital - babies that you have hoped for and prayed for and waited for - and then are charged with the task of keeping them alive without really the slightest inclination how actually to do that, a pediatrician that you trust is priceless. Dr. O'Malley has monitored, examined, healed and loved on my children on numerous occasions. But he has also given Will and I the reassurance, support and confidence to continue on in the sometimes daunting and uncertain task of parenting. And I certainly think that deserves a pie.
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." - John C. Maxwell

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Shelby's "Wish We Had Samoa You" Samoa Cookie Pie

I distinctly remember my first introduction to Shelby and her family. Will and I were newly engaged and had just begun attending Sunday morning services at a new-to-us church, when it happened - the slightly awkward interaction that takes place between a middle school student and their unsuspecting teacher outside of school hours. I'm sure I waited patiently through the "shop talk," smiled politely and parted with something along the lines of "it was nice to meet you." But, even then, I knew this time was different - Shelby was special. 

Several years, one wedding and the birth of our first son later, it struck me that one of the most significant benefits to having a husband who teaches a hundred or so teenagers each year is a vast babysitting pool from which to choose. However, I quickly learned that I am much pickier than Will about these sorts of things, vetoing several other "good students" before it dawned on me - Shelby! She was perfect - a responsible, Christian girl from a wonderful family...and not too boy crazy (trust me, these things are important in a good sitter). 

And I was right. Shelby was the perfect fit for our entire family and quickly became our go-to sitter. Over the years, she has witnessed Wilson grow from an infant who loved to be read to to a toddler who couldn't get enough train play to a big brother to Henry, who sometimes just needed some extra cuddles when Mommy and Daddy were away. I always felt safe with Shelby in charge. She seemed to have everything under control, the boys put down to bed and the house pulled back together when we returned - which is no small feat with two active little boys underfoot. (I mean, she even ran and emptied the dishwasher for me! It doesn't get much better than that!)

We were all a bit spoiled with Shelby...and then the inevitable happened - she left for college. Although I know this is the natural order of things - growing up and heading out into the world - I admit, I grieved her move a bit. Will and I began to schedule our dates around her school calendar, stocking up on nights out when we knew she would be coming home to visit. But, to be honest, I sometimes feel like we book Shelby as much to catch up on what she has been up to in her time away as we do for some time alone.

I feel so old when I find myself acting maternal toward people in their twenties (and maybe it's time that I just admit that I am officially old), but I couldn't be more proud of the woman that Shelby has become in the nine years since I first met her. She is such a light to those around her - bravely sharing what God is doing in her life and boldly staking out her place in His plan. 

I have come to terms with the increasing likelihood that I will never have a daughter of my own. But I do hold out h
ope that I might be lucky enough to have daughter-in-laws much like Shelby. I know that, someday, she will make some man (and some mother-in-law) very happy.

Shelby has been long overdue for a pie and her most recent trip home this past Christmas seemed like the perfect opportunity to bless her for the many ways she has blessed us. But when I thought about what type of pie to make for her, nothing felt just right. So I did what I do when I am absolutely, totally stuck with baker's block - I stalked her Pinterest foodie page...and found three knock-off Somoa cookie recipes. And then it came to me - Shelby's "Wish We Had Samoa You" Samoa Cookie Pie! That delicious Girl Scout shortbread cookie, coated in caramel and layered with toasted coconut and fudgy stripes could only get better in pie form.

I began with the shortbread cookie crust, adding a generous helping of butter into a bowlful of powdered sugar, flour, cornstarch, vanilla extract and a bit of salt. I worked the dough through my fingertips until it held together in large crumbs.
Once combined, I patted the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin in a uniform layer, pricked the bottom with a fork and placed it into a preheated oven to bake until golden.
While the shortbread cookie crust cooled, I set to work on the next layer - the caramel. In previous pie adventures, I had learned how simple (albeit dangerous) homemade caramel could be. So with a little assistance and supervision from my husband, I melted granulated sugar, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until it reached a boil and turned amber in color. Then, I whisked in even more butter and heavy whipping cream until smooth. 

Once cooled, I slathered a thick, sticky layer of rich, homemade caramel over the entire crust (and failed epically at resisting the urge to lick the spoon).
For the next layer - the chocolate coconut custard - I adapted my favorite custard recipe, making minor substitutions here and there and swapping one cup of whole milk for coconut milk. 

To begin, I melted a combination of unsweetened and bittersweet chocolates in a double boiler before whisking in a pad of butter and a splash of vanilla extract. Meanwhile, I heated a combination of granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, whole milk and coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the filling had come to a boil, I reduced the heat and continued to whisk until it reached a pudding-like consistency. Then I married the cooled, melted chocolate and thick, coconut custard and poured the resulting filling into the caramel-lined crust.

Up next - the final and most important layer in recreating the Samoa cookie in pie form - the coconut-caramel topping. I began by toasting sweetened, shredded coconut in the oven until just golden brown. 
Then I added a spoonful of the homemade caramel to the warm, toasted coconut before sprinkling in a generous handful of dark chocolate chips.
I piled the decadent coconut-caramel crumble high over top of the pie.
And, in an attempt to recreate the Samoa's trademark fudge stripes, I melted dark chocolate chips to pipe over top. The result was one large cookie - in pie form.
I am so thankful that God placed Shelby in our path on that summer morning in church so many years ago. I have had the pleasure of watching her grow from an uncertain middle school student to a confident young woman and friend and I can't wait to see what the next chapter of her life holds. My only hope is that as she ventures out into this great big world, the road she travels will lead her home once in a while...because we sure do wish we had "Samoa" her.
"C is for cookie. That's good enough for me." - Cookie Monster