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Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Samoas

Homemade Samoa, up close

Samoas, also known as Caramel de-Lites, have always been my favorite girl scout cookie (although I do enjoy Do-Si-Dos, Tagalongs and Thin Mints). I’m not sure how they rank in the overall scheme of GS cookie popularity, but I will go so far as to say that I have never met someone who didn’t care for them at all – even people who say that they usually don’t like coconut. I think that the cookie is just a good and rather unique combination of flavors.

The Girl Scout bakeries describe Samoas as vanilla cookies dipped in caramel, topped with coconut and drizzled with chocolate. All good flavors, though I have to admit that I never tasted much vanilla in the cookies themselves, and so I used this description as a jumping off point for my version. I remember the cookies as being crisp and tender in the original, and selected a plain shortbread-like base for these. The cookie dough is very rich – by which I mean that it has a lot of butter – and is very easy to work with. The butter keeps it tender, so it won’t toughen up even after repeated rollings of the dough.

For the topping, I debated between using a from-scratch recipe like Chockylit‘s or a semi-homemade recipe like Debbie‘s. The from-scratch recipe sounded appealing, but I opted for the semi-homemade version because I had a ton of Werther’s Chewy Caramels around already. These particular caramels are nice because they’re made with real butter, sugar and cream (rather than using partially hydrogenated oils, as a number of other caramels do). Of course, you can use any similar chewy caramel that’s handy, I just recommend picking out one with the best ingredient list you can find. Different types of caramel will be sticker/harder than others, so be patient as you work with it. I did take Chockylit’s suggestion of toasting the coconut for bit of extra texture. I used dark chocolate for the dip and drizzle, and set each of the cookies on a piece of parchment paper after dunking them in the chocolate to let it set up in an even layer.

There are two ways to get the shape for these cookies. The first is to roll the dough out between pieces of wax paper and use a cookie cutter to make rounds, cutting the smaller center hole later. This technique works great and doesn’t take too long, especially as the dough can be rerolled a couple of times. The second technique calls for a special pan: a mini donut pan. If you have a pan like this, simply press some cookie dough into the tube and bake. The dough doesn’t rise much, giving you a nice flat side and a perfectly rounded one. Take your pick and go with what is convenient for you.

And since you’re all probably wondering, these cookies were absolutely fabulous. The cookies were tender and buttery, the topping was sweet with a delicious coconut flavor, and the dip of chocolate on the bottom of each cookie balanced all the flavors perfectly. Better than I even remember the Girl Scout cookies being. I could – but I won’t – probably eat an entire batch of these on my own.

Homemade Samoas

Homemade Samoas (a.k.a. Caramel de-Lites)
Cookies
1 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 2 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.
Roll the dough (working in two or three batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat with remaining dough. Alternatively, use scant tablespoons of dough and press into an even layer in a mini donut pan to form the rounds.
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set. If using a mini donut pan, bake for only about 10 minutes, until edges are light gold.
Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Topping
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
8 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

Note: These cookies are fairly time consuming to make, but if you take your time and have fun with them, the results will be worth it.  That said, if you want something a little bit quicker, try baking a batch of Samoas Bars instead, which require no rolling and cutting of the dough!

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362 Comments
  • Emily
    July 26, 2009

    For those of you who found your caramel to be too hard, perhaps you melted (or cooked from scratch) your caramel with too much heat?

  • LisaL
    August 1, 2009

    I am an avid coconut hater. I just can not stand the texture or the smell of coconut. BUT for some reason, these GS cookies, I devour without a 2nd thought! I think b/c the caramel helps to mask the texture some and you can’t really smell the coconut. Anywho, thanks for the recipe! Totally plan on trying to make these 😀

  • Chrystibella
    August 8, 2009

    I love coconut and caramel. Now I can have these anytime! I found your site while doing a recipe search for something else. What a wonderful blog with tons of great recipes. I’ve added your link to my blog roll so I can find it later. This is awesome!

  • Skylar
    August 15, 2009

    YAY!
    I am making these right now. My dough for the cookie was a little hard to work with so I just rolled it into balls and then flattened them into disks. I then used the handle of a wooden to press down and make a hole.

    Thank you for this recipe! I cannot wait to taste my cookies.

  • lys
    August 20, 2009

    They are a bit of work but a couple of friends and I turned it in to a cookie making party (and then mercifully split up the results so no one of us would be tempted to eat the whole batch.) and it was a totally enjoyable evening.

    Sarah James

  • Katie
    September 7, 2009

    MM MMMM MMMM is all I have to say ! I have a “Bakedate” with my friend and this is what we chose ! 😀

  • Christina
    October 18, 2009

    These WERE a little labor-intensive, compared to some other cookie recipes. But they came out really, really good! I didn’t need to add any milk to the dough, and the caramel (used Werther’s) and coconut mixture stuck to the cookies just fine. (I did need to put it back in the microwave a couple of times, for just about 10 seconds to soften it up, and that kept it working well.) Thanks for the great recipe, Nicole!

  • Sandra ~ låna pengar
    October 20, 2009

    These are my most favorite of all the Girl Scout Cookies! Yummy! I baked them this last weekend and they were a big hit with my 2 small boys. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Ben
    November 30, 2009

    I’m pissed off now, I wish there were som girl scouts where I live to sell me some cookies. I guess I’d better go and make some of my own. Sigh.

  • basura ne iyi gelir
    December 11, 2009

    I am following your blog, for a long time. Because, your blog is including, useful and necessary information. Your blog is in my browser’ s bookmarks.

    Good jobs.

  • Paris
    December 11, 2009

    Thank your useful links.

  • Buenos Aires Apartments
    December 11, 2009

    What a wonderful blog with tons of great recipes. I’ve added your link to my blog roll so I can find it later.

  • ygs
    December 12, 2009

    But they came out really, really good! I didn’t need to add any milk to the dough, and the caramel (used Werther’s) and coconut mixture stuck to the cookies just fine.

  • Be Cheeky
    December 15, 2009

    Cookies are most commonly baked until crisp or just long enough that they remain soft, but some kinds of cookies are not baked at all.

  • sohbet
    December 15, 2009

    I saw this recipe and thought it looked awesome and it is! It is a bit time consuming, but it was fun making it.

  • haber
    December 21, 2009

    Great to see another recipe like this online. I’ve been making homemade samoas for years. First I find that dipping the bottoms in chocolate before adding the caramel coconut topping is much less messy. But, the biggest difference when I make them is that I don’t put all that time into rolling and cutting the cookies. If you have a spritz press at home with spritz butter or even sugar cookie recipe, these are even simpler to make. And simpler means you get to eat them sooner!

  • maca andina
    January 7, 2010

    delicious biscuits have been a success this Christmas, thanks!

  • emma
    January 19, 2010

    I made these last night, in a bar version because i didnt have a cookie cutter. The base pretty much just fell apart when ever moved, The flavour was good but come on anything with caramel and chocolate is going to taste good, but they did not really taste like the real thing. And they are also quite hard to store because if you stack them they get stuck together and the fall apart when you seperate them.
    But never had a problem with them dough (didnt need any milk) and the whethers melted fine, I didnt like using the semi-sweet chocolate just had that dark bitter taste to it. so will use regualar milk chocolate if i make them again.

    My next attempt may be me buying some shortbread cookies and just adding the topping.

  • Jessica
    January 20, 2010

    Its very good! Thenks!
    🙂

  • Super Mommie
    January 20, 2010

    OMG! I am drooling right now!

  • Melissa
    January 22, 2010

    NOT a good day to start “Biggest Loser” at work…. ;0)

  • Kim
    January 26, 2010

    Good site!
    Thank!

  • Audrina
    January 28, 2010

    Good site!
    Thank!

  • Almanya sohbet
    February 5, 2010

    They were goooooood.

  • Autumn
    February 10, 2010

    I made these this week. SO Delish! I left out the milk and chilled the shortbread. I added a little butter to the chocolate. Other than that I followed the recipe and they looked amazing and tasted even better. It’s good to use a tiny cookie-cutter so they are bite size. I did NOT cut out the hole. The coconut and caramel mixture was easier to work with when it cooled a little bit because I could squish it onto the cookie. Thanks so much for the recipe!!!

  • Nicole
    February 16, 2010

    How delicious! I just found your blog and this fabulous recipe! I am going to post it (with a link to this page) on my blog – thank you!

  • Anonymous
    February 20, 2010

    We had trouble keeping the caramel/coconut mixture to stick to the shortbread bottom, but they tasted great anyway! We’re going to try the bars next time!

  • another Anne
    February 24, 2010

    I don’t have time to read all the comments to see if anyone has already written this: Samoas taste amazingly like what I recall Yes-Yes cookies tasting like in the ’60s – ’70s. Anyone remember those? The Samoas are my favorite, too, although I stopped buying the cookies when I read in WSJ years ago how little the troops make per box. (And I know, I should be making a contribution to the troop instead.)

  • Pamela
    February 26, 2010

    Its very good! Thenks!
    🙂

  • Pamela
    February 26, 2010

    Its very good! Thenks!
    🙂

  • Amy
    March 2, 2010

    Yumm!!!! Luve carmel Delights!!

  • Evista
    March 2, 2010

    Its site very good
    Good luck! 🙂

  • Evista
    March 2, 2010

    Its site very good
    Good luck! 🙂

  • Lindsay
    March 3, 2010

    Hi, 🙂

  • Lindsay
    March 3, 2010

    Hi, 🙂

  • achla composter
    March 5, 2010

    yummy cookie recipes, hmmm great my favorite

  • Dee
    March 6, 2010

    Wow – I made these today, and I have to say, they came out amazing! I didn’t read all the comments, but I kept the caramel mixture and chocolate warm over a double boiler. My caramel was hardening too quickly out of the microwave oven. Great recipe. Makes a good amount of cookies too!

  • Susan Kennedy
    March 8, 2010

    When I suggested doing a similar thing to fundraise I was told that ‘health and safety’ laws meant that it wasn’t allowed. What is the world coming to?

  • Karen Williams
    March 9, 2010

    These are my most favorite of all Girl Scout Cookies! I already feel my hips trying to flee the scene in terror at their future enlargement.

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