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Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Samoas Bars

Samoas Bars, stacked

I love the look of the original Samoas Girl Scout Cookies, but making them from scratch can be a little bit time consuming. This is largely because the dough must be rolled out, cut out and then each of the cookies has to be handled individually for topping. The results are well worth it, in my opinion, but we don’t always have time to make a labor-intensive recipe – no matter how bad a craving for Girl Scout cookies gets.

Bar cookies are the perfect solution.

This is basically a shortcut recipe that still delivers all the great samoas flavor without some of the more tedious parts of cooking making. These bars have a buttery shortbread base that is topped with the caramel-coconut samoas topping and chocolate. It is made in three stages. First, the shortbread is baked and cooled. Then, the coconut topping is applied. Put the coconut on while it is hot, so it will be fairly easy to push it around. It’s a thick mixture, but a spatula is all you need to press it into an even layer. The bars should be cut after the topping has been applied, and even though the shortbread has a melt-in-your mouth quality to it, the topping holds the bars together well. I recommend using a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice up the bars easily and neatly; small knives don’t work quite as well.

The final step is to dip these in chocolate once the topping has set. Since samoas have chocolate on the bottom and a chocolate drizzle on top, I kept that same look for my bar cookies. If you want something a bit simpler, just dip half that bars in chocolate – or skip the dipping in favor of a drizzle. The important thing is that all the flavors get into the batch. And that you have some friends to share these with, because they can be quite addictive.

Samoas Bars

Homemade Samoas Bars
Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

First, make the crust.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

Topping
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 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.
Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).
Once bars are cut, 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 bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies.

Note: You can simply drizzle chocolate on top of the bars before slicing them up if you’re looking for yet an easier way to finish these off. You won’t need quite as much chocolate as noted above, and you won’t quite get the Samoas look, but the results will still be tasty.

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298 Comments
  • Laura
    February 22, 2009

    I made these today. Yummy. I put the layer of chocolate on top of the warm cookie then added the coconut layer once it was cooled. It was much easier than dipping each piece. Thanks for the great recipe! Will make these again for sure!!

  • Wendy
    February 23, 2009

    I made these this weekend too – and wow!! The flavor is PERFECT!! I personally thought the cookie layer was a bit too thick, but everyone in my family said – NO NO NO!! They love them like they are! (I’m just a perfectionist – that’s all!) They really are fabulous, and I’m thinkin’ I might even try just using a cookie scoop, flattening by hand – and go from there. But Laura had a good idea too – chocolate layer instead of dipping! HMMMM…. darn, I might just have to keep making these OVER and OVER and OVER!! 😉

  • dessertchick
    February 23, 2009

    I just made these today with my best friend and they are delicious! The only adjustment I made was that I added toasted almonds on top. Her father ate half the pan instead of eating dinner =)

  • lisette
    February 24, 2009

    i love these cookies!!!!! i been looking for the recipe everywhere… thx for posting it…

  • bayu
    February 25, 2009

    i think is delicious, i very like about cake specifically for chocolate

  • Michelle
    February 26, 2009

    Thank you so much for posting all the GS Cookie recipes- they all look WONERFUL and I definitely want to try these bars!! You do a wonderful job- love your blog.

  • deewani
    March 1, 2009

    I “googled” samoas to find a recipe and this is the first one I looked at. Made them tonight, have not tasted them yet, waiting for the caramel to cool so I can do the final part, but I can tell already that I am going to love them. Thanks very much, my brother is going to love these.

  • Tammi
    March 2, 2009

    I was all set to love these and want to make them again and again. I did make them this weekend and was not as impressed as I thought I would be. They were too thick and chewy. I love to bake and usually bake once a week, but this recipe took way too long, took too many ingredients and made too many dirty dishes. I think I will just buy one box of the real thing a year and enjoy them that way. I really wanted to love these, but I didn’t.

  • Shanda
    March 6, 2009

    I made these yesterday for a dinner party & everyone went NUTS! Thank you for creating this recipe! I thought they were fabulous & just sent my husband back out to buy more carmel & coconut to make more!

  • OH MY GOD!!!! Those look AMAZING!

  • Ciaochowlinda
    March 8, 2009

    You should win a prize for these cookies that looks so fantastic and I’ll bet taste even better. I’m sure I would eat the whole batch if I made these.

  • these are my favorite girl scout cookies too. I’m so glad you made these…and I am saving them!

  • Karin @ MadeByK
    March 11, 2009

    Found your Samoas cookie recipe a while back but I’m glad I procrastinated because easy bars are even better! I wrote a post about Samoas on my blog, used two of your photos (loaded onto my photosharing site), attributed them to you, and also linked to your recipes – this one and the cookie version. If that’s not OK, please let me know. : )

    By the way, LOVE these! So glad I have a recipe to make my own. Only thing I will do differently next time is to try milk chocolate instead of dark or semi-sweet; mine seemed a little too cocoa-y compared to the Girl Scout ones. (But still delicious, regardless of chocolate used.)

  • Steve
    March 23, 2009

    This actually looks very easy to make. I think I will give it a try as I have all the ingredients already.

  • Mike
    March 24, 2009

    I did the bars and like someone else above, my shortbread was way way too crumbly (one section even separated, half stayed on my pan, half came up with the caramel), and if it weren’t for the chocolate would be too fragile to support the caramel layer during a bite. I think I’ll try again with another egg added. Do you think that will change anything?

  • Rocio
    March 25, 2009

    Hi,
    I absolutely love your blog!I made these on Sunday and they were so good! I will tweek the recipe to my family’s taste (less chocolaty) and will also try the chocolate layer instead of dipped in it. I couldn’t handle the mess of dipping it, lol.
    Keep sharing your delicious recipes 🙂

  • I’m linking to these and wishing for Taste A Vision:)

  • Leslie
    March 31, 2009

    I tried making these last night–unfortunately, my cookie layer fell apart when trying to cut the bars, and the topping just wouldn’t stick. The cookie layer seemed too thick to me, too…I’d love to try making them again if someone can fix these issues! 🙂

  • Jenn
    April 1, 2009

    WHOEVER MADE/POSTED THIS…OH MY GOD YOU ARE MY SAVIOR. LOL i love love loove samoas and being that they are seasonal im always bummed when i ram through the box that day…i mean i’m only 18 and being a college student this sounds like the best munchies everr..haha i am trying these out tomorrow! this is awesome!

  • Shane
    April 2, 2009

    OMG! I think i just creamed my pants!

  • Kelly
    April 2, 2009

    Me too, Shane! =]

  • Sarah
    April 2, 2009

    What caramels do you use?

  • jess38288
    April 3, 2009

    Made these this morning/afternoon. They were great, but I have to agree with some of the comments. Next time I will make the cookie part thinner (that shortbread tasted awesome though). Also, I would highly suggest some other chocolate for drizzling and dipping – I used the Nestle Tollhouse Semi-Sweet Morsels and I too had a problem with the chocolate not hardening. There’s a chocolate in a paper tub that is specifically for dipping things & hardening (it has pictures of bananas & strawberries) – it’s usually in the produce section at Ralphs. That has always worked great for anything that I’ve needed hardened chocolate for. Hmm… I just may try this with white chocolate next time!

  • kristin
    April 6, 2009

    I made these last nite for friends and we liked them. BUT i wanted to LOVE them, especially after all that work!!
    The topping of caramel and coconut was definitely the best part although it did not want to stick to the shortbread base. I solved this by greasing up my fingers and spatula with shortening and pressing it into the cookies. My friend ended up just picking the caramel/coconut topping off the cookie and eating that straight. The shortbread was not very flavorful and too crumbly. The cookie bits fell into the chocolate as i was dipping the bottoms of the bars. I think next time i will make butter cookies and put the topping on that or just make the topping and eat that like candy.

  • Mike
    May 4, 2009

    WOW! These stopped me dead in my tracks. Bummer my corner grocer is closed right now. Found you on stumbleupon and so glad I did. Thanks for sharing, saves me more money for buying the tagalongs and thin mints…he he

  • Melanie
    May 6, 2009

    I made these and didn’t have time to dip the base of the bar in chocolate and instead just drizzled the chocolate over the top. They were so tasty. Thanks! I posted about them on my blog with a link to you.

  • Bill
    May 7, 2009

    My daughter is with the girl scouts and this would be a nice spin to put on a popular cookie. Although girl scout cookies are great, you can get tired of the same flavors after awhile!

  • KS
    May 28, 2009

    Just made these last week! Took a long time to make but worth it! Make sure you don’t over mix the dough for the shortbread. My first attempt did not look like “wet sand” and when I baked it it looked spongy. I also used only 2 cups of the toasted coconut and spread the melted chocolate on the base of the cookies with a knife instead of dipping them. This was less messy and I had more control of how much I put on. I put them in the fridge after topping them with the coconut/caramel topping for a few minutes just to set then after spreading them with chocolate I put them in there for another few minutes. Then drizzled them with chocolate. My husband loved them! He said they definitely taste better at room temperature. They remind me a little of a Twix bar because of the caramel and the cookie part. Going to try to make the Thin Mints next. Thanks Nicole!!!

  • kellirc
    June 10, 2009

    I made these yesterday and they were absolutely delicious! My nieces loved them. I must say that I think they are better than the Samoa cookies because you get a lot more caramel and chocolate. Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Gabrielle
    June 18, 2009

    I just made these yesterday and they were FABULOUS. I did what was suggested earlier and put the layer of melted chocolate on the shortbread instead of dipping, and also so the coconut would adhere better. Also, my grocery store didn’t have caramels, so I used a jar of smuckers caramel sauce/ice cream topping, and it worked very well. Thanks for such a great recipe! I’ll definitely make these again!

  • Stacy
    July 2, 2009

    Did you happen to use sweetened or unsweetened coconut?

  • jamesly
    July 21, 2009

    me too!

    I made these yesterday and they were absolutely delicious!

  • Neally82
    July 31, 2009

    I LOVE your website. I come here all the time when I want a good homemade recipe for something. I’ve used lots and they’ve been fantastic every time. I’ll be back!

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