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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)
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.

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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  • Deborah
    January 23, 2008

    WOW – I can’t believe how much these look like the real thing!! Now I can have girl scout cookies year round!

  • Jade
    January 23, 2008

    These look amazing! Definitely giving them a try – I saw another recipe for them elsewhere and they did not look nearly as good. Thanks!

  • meeso
    January 23, 2008

    These are definitely my favorite girl scout cookie, they look amazing!

  • Kim U
    January 23, 2008

    Thank you for this recipe! These are my _favorite_ girl scout cookies, will definitely have to try making them at home.

  • June
    January 23, 2008

    These look so good, I could just cry. Thanks for sharing!

  • Christina
    January 23, 2008

    Yum, your cookies look delicious. I will have to surprise my sister w/a batch of these for her birthday later this spring. I have to say that in recent years, the product that the Girls Scouts have been selling as Samoas are awful – they are bland but cloyingly sweet. I vowed never to buy them again, but who needs to now that I have this recipe?! Thank you!

  • Lewis
    January 23, 2008

    THESE ARE MY WEAKNESS!!!! Of all their stupid good cookies these are my weakness!!!!

    I would say thank you for this recipe but well, some things should be left to once a year ;P (of course now that the cat is out of the bag…might as well make some!)

  • Cara
    January 23, 2008

    These are my most favorite of all Girl Scout Cookies! I can’t wait to try this recipe! Has the cookie-selling season started yet? If so, the Girl Scouts seem to have skipped my house this year. Maybe that’s a good thing.

  • Mrs. L
    January 23, 2008

    The thought of having my favorite Girl Scout Cookies year round boggles the mind. And I already feel my hips trying to flee the scene in terror at their future enlargement.

  • M.E.
    January 23, 2008

    Samoas are the second best-selling Girl Scout Cookie at 19 percent of the market. The number-one seller is Thin Mints at 25 percent of the market. More Girl Scout Cookies are sold every year than Oreos and Chips Ahoy, making them the best-selling cookies in the US. They really are “great cookies for a great cause”! Girl Scout Cookies even have their own MySpace page.

  • JEP
    January 23, 2008

    Look amazing…I’m gonna try to make them! These are one of my favorite GS cookies (have a couple of boxes ordered)!

  • TheKitchenSink
    January 23, 2008

    When I read you were doing Girl Scout cookies, I was crossing my fingers that you’d feature Samoas. These look absolutely fantastic. I can’t wait to try. Do you have recommendations for “good quality” chewy caramels?

  • Nicole
    January 23, 2008

    I definitely recommend the Werther’s Chewy Caramels as a widely available store brand (at least, I always seem to find it at my local market). Otherwise, aim for something with the same consistency – i.e. no hard candies – and check the ingredients list for butter, sugar, cream, which usually add up to a good caramel. Kraft or similar caramels will work, I just don’t think they’re quite as good.

  • Anne
    January 24, 2008

    I’ve never had the original cookie, but I’m dying to try this. I actually have mini pans that would be perfect for this, so I’m definitely giving it a go.

  • melissa
    January 24, 2008

    oh. my. god. yes!

    these were always my favorites, too! And since I’ve moved abroad, I don’t get to eat them at all. Until now, you wonderful woman, you…

  • Julie O'Hara
    January 24, 2008

    I lived for these when I was a girl scout. Awesome job on the recipe.

  • Joan
    January 24, 2008

    I must be a freak of nature. I won’t eat Samoas, mostly because I don’t like coconut. But we haven’t officially met, so you can still say “I’ve never met anyone…” 😛

  • Nicole
    January 24, 2008

    Joan – You’re not a freak, and I swear that I have seen these convent die-hard coconut haters (probably because in the GS version you can’t taste the coconut for some reason. I recall disagreements many years ago with people insisting there was no coconut here), but I do acknowledge that there are people out there who are not coconut fans. I won’t hold it against you 😉

  • Debbie
    January 25, 2008

    OK, now where is a recipe for Thin Mints?

  • Lori
    January 26, 2008

    Okay, so I’m trying your recipe. What is the dough’s consistency supposed to be like? Mine was extremely sticky – so much that I ended up adding about another 3/4 cup of flour. And just so you know, I’m in Denver, which is a very low humidity town! Thanks . . .

  • Nicole
    January 26, 2008

    Lori – That’s odd! I would say that the dough shouldn’t be sticky, but it shouldn’t be falling-apart dry, either. With this recipe, I usually get a play-dough like consistency, maybe a bit wetter than that.

  • Nicole
    January 26, 2008

    Another thought: the temperature of your kitchen can, of course, effect the dough’s consistency. If your dough is sticky, perhaps chilling it for a few minutes in the fridge would help.

  • C(h)ristine
    January 27, 2008

    OMG Samoas! I would love to be able to have these year-round, and to control the trans fat content.

    I baked some this morning–the dough’s consistency was DEFINITELY sticky (and I live at sea level), so I added 1/4 cup of flour and chilled them in the fridge before cutting. That worked just fine, though you still have to be very careful peeling the cookies from the parchment paper.

    Also–if you care about the hole in the middle, make the hole bigger than the circumference of a straw–when I put the caramel topping on the cookies, the hole was completely obscured (next time I’m skipping the hole).

  • Nicole
    January 27, 2008

    After some reflection, I’m making a minor modification to the recipe as printed above, making the 2 tbsp of milk optional (i.e. add it in as needed). I’m hoping this will eliminate most, or all, of the sticky dough problems, regardless of the humidity levels where you’re baking.

  • Illiya
    January 28, 2008

    I haven’t made this yet, but I found an Edy’s Ice Cream with Samoa! They also have Tagalong.

  • Ashley
    January 28, 2008

    These look so good!! Coconut on top of a cookie and then with chocolate? Yum.

  • Bri
    January 29, 2008

    I just finished drizzling the chocolate on mine and I can’t wait to try them. I may have to throw a couple in the freezer to get them set faster! How did you get the caramel/coconut mixture to behave so well? I couldn’t get mine to go around the hole in the middle for love nor money. So I figure next time I’ll skip making the hole in the first place. Other than that, the dough was perfect as written and everything seemed to come together easily. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Sadiya
    January 30, 2008

    Hi nicole,

    I love your blog, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t check it. I just had one question regarding dipping the cookie base in chocolate…How do I do that? I am relatively new to baking and can’t understand what the process would be to dip only the base, can you please help me with this. I really would appreciate it a lot.
    Thanks for the recipe and have a great day 🙂

  • larissa
    January 30, 2008

    these look so so so yummy! and as a girl scout of 12 years, i can say carmel delights/somoas were always my best seller. closely behind thin mints of course. i was really sad because this is my first year out of girl scouts and i wasn’t going to get my cookies; but i think i’ll have a try at baking my own!

  • elaine
    January 31, 2008

    now, if only we can find the recipe for the thin mints !! that would be awsome !!

  • Nicole
    January 31, 2008

    Bri – I definitely used my fingers on some of the cookies to get the caramel into place, but I kind of got into a groove with the spatula and it got easier as I went.

    Also, for anyone interested, you can find homemade thin mint cookie recipes here: http://bakingbites.com/2005/10/thin-minties/

  • Jojo
    January 31, 2008

    You are an absolute doll for posting this! Samoas are also my favorite cookie, and only getting to have them once a year is simply not enough.

    I’m definitely going to give these a try over the weekend. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  • Amy
    February 1, 2008

    Thanks for a new recipe for my file!

  • demondoll
    February 1, 2008

    Thank you! My mouth is a-watering just thinking about baking these…

  • Lorri
    February 4, 2008

    I was very excited about this recipe because I love the GS cookie. I was unprepared for how long it took to make them. They looked good but my carmel/coconut topping was very tough. I ended up taking the hardened carmel top off and sandwiching two cookie bottoms together (chocolate in the center) and they tasted like Pepperidge Farms Milanos – yummy.

  • Nikki
    February 5, 2008

    Looks like I know what I’m making for dinner tonight 🙂

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