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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
  • Echo
    December 22, 2011

    I made these earlier this week and they tasted unbelievably good. My cookie base was also crumbly so I ended up pouring the melted chocolate on top of the coconut mixture instead. The bottoms looked a little weird, but who really cares when they taste so good? Next time I will do as others have suggested and pour the chocolate over the cookie base, invert and then do the coconut topping. So worth the effort.

  • Jennifer
    January 10, 2012

    Yummy! I posted a link to this recipe on my blog…thru my pinterest board.
    Thanks!
    Jennifer @ The Craft Barn

  • Tracy
    January 30, 2012

    I can’t wait to make these. SInce I have a small household do you think these would freeze well?

  • Alexia
    January 30, 2012

    So I just made these and they were great! I read all the comments first. Though I used 1/2 of 1 egg. The shortbread just seemed to dry. It worked. No crumbling. Then after I put the coconut/Carmel mixture on top it didn’t stick. So I cut them up with a pizza cutter and put the chocolate in between the Carmel n cookie. It acted like a glue. Then drizzled chocolate on top. It was perfect.

  • kate
    January 30, 2012

    I just made these tonight and they were a massive hit! I was worried that they would crumble, but the texture of the cookie was perfect. I think the trick is to not over mix the dough. Now to see if they will make the trip in the mail to my brother in the navy!

  • Mary
    February 4, 2012

    I just got done making these and i omitted the egg and added about a tablespoon of water to the crust to make it less crumbly. My crust was way to dry before i added the water. It was still a little crumbly when i cut them but they turned out great. Hopefully everyone will love them tonight!

  • Diana
    February 5, 2012

    Just made these. I doubled the crust to make other types of shortbread cookies, but the crust baked well. The caramel topping was difficult to spread, because it cools so quickly, but it worked out. Although next time I might use a bit less coconut. The pizza cutter wasn’t working well but a small paring knife worked great. I cut them then flipped over and “painted” the bottoms in chocolate, I am not a good dipper. They taste great, and I may make again for holidays.

  • Shannon
    February 7, 2012

    I made these for the first time today and they came out great! I followed the recipe for the cookie base exactly and didn’t have any problems. You just have to be careful not to over mix it. I used a double boiler to melt the carmel and chocolate for a more even & smooth melting (I’ve had problems in the past with crystallization & burning when trying to melt candies/chocolate in the microwave) It really helps keep them warm as you’re mixing in the coconut or dipping the cookies in the chocolate (though to cut the time down, I think I’ll give the dumping the chocolate on the bottom, melting & then flipping a try next time). And I like a thinner, crisper cookie, so I think I’ll use a jelly roll pan next time. Thanks again for posting this recipe!

  • Monica
    March 5, 2012

    I made these this weekend and was very disappointed. The crust was like dry cake mix after making. It crumbled so bad I couldn’t even cut them in squares. Well, actually, the “top” caramel and chocolate cut fine, but the bottom just totally crumbled. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I swear I thought about treating the bottom like a dry cake mix and making something else with it. The top was delicious, but the bottom was a major fail.

  • Jeni
    March 9, 2012

    This recipe was so disappointing…the bottom was horrible. We ended up tearing off the caramel/coconut/chocolate part and eating that, leaving a whole pan of rejected cookie bottom.

  • Ashley
    April 24, 2012

    I had tried making the cookie version of this recipe over a year ago and swore I would never do it again – so much work. I saw this and thought I would give it a try. I made a few adjustments. I used store bought sugar cooke dough (I know …homemade is better, oh well). I lined a 9×13 in pan with parchment paper, put the cookie dough in and baked. about 3 minutes before the cookies were done I sprinkled the chocolate chips on top and stuck it back in the oven. once finished I smoothed out the chocolate and let it cool. I then inverted the chocolate/cookie mix into a parchment lined 9×13 (I used the same one to save on dishes) so the chocolate is on the bottom and then proceeded with the rest of the recipe (coconut/caramel mixture and then drizzle chocolate). Now that I’m typing this it seems complicated but it was actually very simple (and delicious!)….hope this helps 🙂

  • Carol
    April 28, 2012

    Was disappointed in the outcome…not the “samoas” I was hoping for. I guess I had my hopes up they would actually taste like “SAOMOAS!” They tasted…ok…but for all the time and trouble, I won’t make them again. From a scale of 1-5, I’d say no more than 3!

  • babs
    May 4, 2012

    These look positively YUMMY

  • Anna
    June 7, 2012

    I feel so much better after reading all the comments, realizing that I am not alone in my messy disappointment! I, too, encountered the issues already addressed, but am eager to try again, incorporating the helpful suggestions left by commenters. Thanks, everyone!

  • HeartCozy
    June 7, 2012

    i did not omit the egg in the cookie base and it blended up nice and smooth, it spread smooth on the pan and it was lovely. the caramel coconut topping stuck nicely to the base and i was able to cut the squares just perfectly! i used 70% dark chocolate for the dipping and i let it cool for several hours on parchment paper. when i scooped up the finished bar, much to my surprise the chocolate did not stick to the bottom! the bottom was bare. the chocolate stuck to the sides but not the bottom. no one else mentioned this as an issue, but i would like the bottom to have a chocolate coating just like the GS cookies do.

  • Cdub
    June 16, 2012

    I have made these twice and the cookie didn’t fall apart either time. I definitely recommend dark chocolate. They were delicious the first time, but I made 2 changes the second time. First, I cut the short bread in half…I felt like there was too much short bread the first time. Second, I took the advice of a the person above and spread the chocolate on and then inverted the shortbread to do the caramel layer. This made things move much more quickly for me!
    Delicious recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Michelle Gonzales White
    June 18, 2012

    can you substitute almond flour for regular flour?

  • Mary
    July 13, 2012

    If it falls apart I would use a fork!

  • Lauren
    August 23, 2012

    A lot of work but worth it! So delicious!

  • Vanessa
    September 16, 2012

    Yum! used caramel sauce in a jar instead of melting my own-much easier/faster. also dripped chocolate on top instead of dipped. came out great just a little time consuming.

  • Dorthay Welch
    September 23, 2012

    I can’t wait to try the bars. I think I might use Carmel Sauce that I use for bread pudding. I purchased the Carmel Sauce from Trader Joe’s…the size of the jar is 10oz but I think it would be enough caramel. Does anyone have any comments on using the Carmel Sauce.

  • Beth
    October 8, 2012

    I made these for a party and were a huge hit! Tasted exactly like Samoas! My dough was really wet too, having not read these comments, I thought I made it wrong. I just floured my hands to pat down the batter and it was fine, and worked like a charm. I used parchment paper on the bottom too which was extremely helpful in getting them out of the pan. The cookie bottom was slightly crumbly but I dont think people had an issue with the texture or them falling apart (the several that I tried seemed to be quite fine 🙂 Overall, big hit and will surely try them again for my mom who is a HUGE Samoa fan!

  • Beth
    October 8, 2012

    OH! One last thing! Instead of “dipping” the bars in chocolate, I used two cutting boards to turn them over after chilling and brushed the chocolate on with a pastry brush. Seemed like dipping would of made them too chocolatly and sweet 🙂 Worked Well!

  • Peggy
    October 21, 2012

    Made these today and they were good. I spread the chocolate on top of parchment paper and then placed cut squares on top of it. Drizzled chocolate over top and then placed in the refrigerator to help set. Since it is dark chocolate the chocolate taste is over powering. Next time I plan to double the coconut/caramel mixture since I love coconut and caramel and won’t use nearly as much chocolate; will probably use milk chocolate instead. Hard to taste the coconut/caramel mixture. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Paz
    November 19, 2012

    I noticed that my crust was falling apart when i dip them to a chocolate. At some occasions, the topping separates from its crust which i couldn’t tell why.

    I love the taste of it though. I couldn’t find chewy caramels so i googled the easiest and fastest way to make my own caramel.

    I would make this again until i get the crust right to how i want it.

  • Cat
    November 21, 2012

    The crust was very crumbly which made it very difficult to dip. Will have to adjust the cookie base recipe. The caramel and coconut were perfect. Needs some work but a good base recipe to start with

  • jul
    December 8, 2012

    My crust was crumbly as well, so I had to invert the entire pan to spread the chocolate on. The caramel also separated from the crust. If anyone finds a solution to this issues, please post, because I would like to make these again with some modifications to the crust.

  • Rachelle
    December 10, 2012

    Hi! What a delicious looking recipe!!! Can these made and frozen ahead for Christmas baking?
    ~Rachelle

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