Samoas are easily my favorite Girl Scout cookie because of all the great contrasting flavors and textures they have. It is a shortbread-type cookie topped with caramel and toasted coconut then dipped in chocolate. I like them so much that I have a homemade version that lets me make them any time I want – no Girl Scouts necessary – as well as a slightly easier bar cookie variation that still captures those flavors. This time, I have yet another variation on the theme with some Samoas Cheesecake Bars. They’re not quite as cookie-like as my other homemade Girl Scout Cookie recipes, but I’m pretty sure that those girls could easily sell just as many of these bars!
These cheesecake bars are fairly easy to make and start off with a shortbread base topped with a layer of vanilla cheesecake, a combination I’ve used before in Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars. The bars are topped with a mixture of caramel and toasted coconut, then drizzled with chocolate. The result is a delicious bar with a buttery crust, creamy cheesecake, gooey caramel, crisp coconut and rich chocolate.
The only trick to making these bars is that you need to make the caramel sauce by hand. It needs to remain soft when refrigerated because the cheesecake bars need to be stored in the refrigerator. The bars are a bit less satisfying to eat when the caramel hardens up and you can’t slice into them! This caramel is smooth and rich tasting, and remains soft enough to slice easily after it has been spread on the bars and chilled, though it is firm enough that it won’t run everywhere and make a mess. You could get away with using a thick, store-bought caramel sauce if you want to give a shortcut a try, though.
This recipe makes a big batch that is easy to share, but equally easy to enjoy yourself. They keep well in the refrigerator, so you can take your time eating through them. There are several stages to making this recipe, but most of the down time is just waiting for things to chill. Be a bit patient and the results will be well worth it!
Samoas Cheesecake Bars
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup milk (any kind)
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Begin by making the crust. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until light, then beat in flour and salt until mixture is sandy. Pour into prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.
While the crust bakes, beat together sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl or a food processor until smooth. Add all remaining filling ingredients and beat (or pulse, in a food processor) until smooth.
Pour the filling over the hot crust when it has finished baking.
Return pan to oven and bake for 22-25 minutes, until the filling is set.
Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
Caramel with Toasted Coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
7 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until mixture turns a deep honey color, about 10 minutes. Pour in cream. Mixture will bubble and caramel will harden. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until caramel remelts and is smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract and salt.
Pour into a heat-proof (glass or pyrex) bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature.
Cook coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown to toast. Cool, then stir into room temperature caramel.
Spread caramel mixture over chilled cheesecake bars. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up caramel before drizzling with chocolate.
4-oz semisweet or dark chocolate
Melt chocolate in a small, microwave safe bowl and drizzle over the caramel. Chill until ready to serve.
Makes 30 bars