Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Samoas

These Samoas, uh, Caramel DeLites look-alikes are worth every second they take to make. Trust us. That said, you can always opt for the ridiculously easy, weeknight-friendly, bar cookie version of this recipe (see Variation below). The bar rendition requires no rolling or cutting of the dough, so it can be made relatively quickly, i.e., whenever the craving strikes. Although we’re not necessarily certain that’s a good thing.

We happened upon this treasure earlier this spring, before the boxed version was available, at BakingBites.com. Those of you who fancy the other varieties of Girl Scout cookies, take note: there’s more homemade versions where these came from. To read a tale of woe and cookies, check out Lisa Abend’s essay Uniform Dread.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC Supersize It! Note

Anyone else go wobbly in the knees at the mere mention of Samoas? Because let’s face it. A single Samoa never seems to be enough. (Sometimes a box doesn’t seem to be enough, either.) So because bigger is sometimes better, you may want to go ahead and supersize these diminutive cookies by using larger cookie cutters.

Homemade Girls Scout Cookies: Samoas Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • For the cookie
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperture
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 2 tablespoons milk
  • For the topping
  • 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 12 ounces good-quality chewy caramels, unwrapped
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 to 12 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)

Directions

  • Make the cookies
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • 2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a second, larger bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture until combined. Add the vanilla and combine. The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky dough. If the dough isn’t coming together, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time as needed, until the dough forms a ball. It’s possible you may not need to add any milk at all. If the dough is impossibly sticky, sprinkle with a bit of flour.
  • 3. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions. Roll out each portion between large pieces of wax or parchment paper to a thickness of no more than 1/4 inch. Transfer the dough and parchment to the refrigerator to chill for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • 4. Use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to cut dough rounds. If you wish to make your cookies exact replicas of the original Samoa, cut a smaller hole in the center of each cookie using a knife, the end of the handle on a wooden spoon, or any other small round device that you can find in your kitchen. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheets.
  • 5. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the cookies are set. Cool them for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Make the topping
  • 6. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F ( 150°C). Line another baking sheet with parchment.
  • 7. Spread the coconut evenly on the baking sheet and toast, stirring every 5 minutes, until the coconut is golden, about 20 minutes total. Cool the coconut on the sheet, stirring occasionally, until it cools to room temperature. Set aside.
  • 8. Combine the caramels, milk, and salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high power for 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to stir it a few times to ensure the caramels melt evenly. When the mixture is smooth, fold in the toasted coconut. Using a small metal offset spatula, spread the topping onto the cooled cookies, using 2 to 3 teaspoons per cookie. If the caramel becomes too firm to work with, reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds. Let the cookies set.
  • 9. Place 8 ounces of the chocolate, coarsely chopped or broken into pieces, in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high power in 45-second intervals, stirring to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate, scraping it along the edges of the bowl to smooth it, and then place on parchment or wax paper to set. Transfer any remaining chocolate into a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off. If necessary, melt additional chocolate. Drizzle chocolate stripes on top of the cookies. Let the cookies set or, to hasten the process, transfer them to the refrigerator. If any cookies make it to the end of the day, store them in an airtight container.

Variation

  • Rather than rolling out the dough and cutting individual cookies, you can save a few minutes with this bar cookie rendition. Just follow the instructions above, making the following adjustments:

    For the cookies: Use only 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter and omit the baking powder and the milk. After beating the butter with the sugar, beat in 1 egg and the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and salt, and combine until the mixture is crumbly and the consistency of wet sand. Press the mixture into a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake until the crust is set and the edges are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cookie cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

    For the topping: After folding the coconut into the caramel, place dollops of the mixture on the cooled cookie crust and spread it into an even layer using a small offset spatula or, if the mixture isn’t too hot, lightly floured fingers. Let cool completely. Drizzle with the 8 ounces of melted chocolate as directed. If desired, melt the additional 4 ounces of chocolate and, after cutting the bars into individual cookies, dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate, scraping it along the edge of the bowl to smooth it, and then place the bars on parchment or wax paper to set.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Eydie Desser

Apr 22, 2010

The lucky receivers of these Samoas gobbled them up with smiles on their faces. Here are a few tricks and tips I used to make them as easy to bake (and eat) as possible.

1. Refrigerating the dough after rolling it out and before cutting the cookies into shape will make it easier to transfer them to the baking sheets.

2. Make the cookies larger, 2 1/2 or 3 inches in diameter, so you can make a large enough hole in the middle of the cookie so it won’t close up too much while baking.

3. The caramel coconut mixture has a tendency to seize up as you paint the cookie with it. Using 4 tablespoons of heavy cream instead of 3 tablespoons of whole milk helps soften the mixture, making it much easier to slather around. Another solution is to heat the mixture over a double boiler to keep it warm and moist.

4. After dipping the cookie bottoms in the chocolate and decorating the tops of the cookies, refrigerate them for 15 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden and easily release from the cookie sheet. These small changes make your Samoas look and taste authentic (maybe even more delicious than the original version), and will also be as fun to make as they are to eat.

Testers Choice
Amy Giezentanner

Apr 22, 2010

It was like Christmas in my kitchen today because I got to make Samoa bars! They’ve always been my favorite Girl Scout cookie, so I jumped at the chance to make them. I almost wish I hadn’t, because I can’t get enough of them. I may even dream about them tonight. The cookie base is the perfect combination of crunchy and soft, and the caramel topping mixed with toasted coconut? Sublime. The added chocolate takes it over the top into a delicious dimension that’s just wrong enough to be right. I can’t think of anything I’d do to change the finished cookie bars, but I can think of a couple of things to improve the recipe. The dipping chocolate should have a slightly different consistency—it was a tad too thick, so I had to smooth the bottom of each cookie bar in order to create a consistent coverage of chocolate. The overall recipe should also include a recipe for caramel, with the option to use store-bought if preferred. There are too many people in the world without access to gourmet confections, and the caramels you buy in a bag at the grocery store just wouldn’t do justice to these little delights. Adding a caramel recipe would help ensure that these treasures live up to their luscious reputations. I used the caramel from the Salted Butter Tart on this site, and it was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I’m scheming for a good excuse to make them again.

Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

Apr 22, 2010

These were out of sight. They were rich and chewy, and better than the Girl Scout version. I made the bar variation instead of the cookies. The recipe was easy to follow, but I advise spreading the caramel/coconut topping while warm and with lightly floured fingers. Using floured fingers helped me spread the filling to the edges more easily than using an offset spatula. This recipe will definitely stay in my files for family weekends and Christmas giving.

Testers Choice
Jean Moats

Apr 22, 2010

I made the Samoa bars, which are much quicker to make than the cookies. When I mixed the shortbread dough, it looked more like wet sand than the crumbly sand the recipe stated. It was, however, still easy to press into the pan using my fingers. It’s definitely a good idea to use a metal spatula for the caramel/coconut filling because the metal helps spread the sticky caramel. Keep an eye on both the chocolate and the caramels when in the microwave, so they don’t burn.

Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Apr 22, 2010

I used this exact recipe except I made one GIANT cookie in a nine-inch round cake pan. This recipe is spot on. The flavor and texture were perfectly like the original. Now we can have Girl Scout cookies any time of year!


Comments
Comments
  1. Traca says:

    By far my favorite Girl Scout cookie. Thankfully my Girl Scout days predated the Samoa. I’m not sure they all would have been delivered. :)I especially love them straight out of the freezer.

  2. Emily says:

    Difficult much?? YES. The coconut topping was definitely one of the most interesting cooking experiences I have had. It stuck to everything but the cookie! Although the process was long and layered, the cookies do taste well..even though they do not taste like a samoa cookie in my opinion. After finishing the cookies I attempted to peel the finalized cookie off the paper, and it immediately split into 3 parts…the chocolate sticking to the paper, the decent tasting cookie, and then the coconut topping falling off the cookie. Interesting experience.

    • Karen says:

      Emily, I am so sorry that your experience with the recipe was so “interesting.” I decided well before baking that I was going for the easy way out and made them into bar cookies instead of cut-out cookies. That was a good decision, as I can tell by your battles with the caramel/coconut combination. I ended up using my fingers for spreading it–and I did let it get rather cool despite the admonition to do it while it was still quite warm. I just ran my fingers under the hot water to get them wet, then pushed that mound of coconut-caramel around like it was satin on silk! I drizzled the chocolate over the whole thing when the first two layers were stone cold and well glued together. I did turn out the entire “work” onto a cutting board to make the individual bars and had no trouble with that. I thought about trying to make them again as cookies–what do you think? After reading your tales of woe I will stick to them as bars… They did disappear rather quickly, as an entire office converged on them and left not a crumb!

  3. Jessica says:

    I’d like to make this recipe in the bar version for a cookie exchange. About how many cookies will I get from a 9×13 pan?

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Jessica,

      I checked with one of our testers that made the bar version of the samoas. She started by cutting small squares but then decided that they were too good for a tiny bite and finished by cutting much larger pieces. So, it really is a personal choice as to the yield, depending on whether you want a large bar size or smaller square.

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