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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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  • pastanmore.org
    January 12, 2009

    Samoas are to DIE for! I can’t wait to try to make these. It really bums me out that Girl Scouts don’t go door to door in my city anymore. I always used to look forward to that. It was almost like a holiday or something. I guess the world has become to creepy…

  • candace
    January 13, 2009

    🙁 I made these tonight and it was a total flop! I think somehow, I messed up my caramel. I made half a batch of my own and half a batch of the wherther’s wrapped caramels, and both turned out way too hard… not chewy melt-in-your mouth 🙁

    I’m really excited to try them so I might give it a go again… but I was really sad with my final product… urggh 🙁

  • Easton Ellsworth
    January 16, 2009

    Thank you soooo much Nicole! My wife’s off to grab some coconut nd caramels right now. We’re makin’ dozens of these puppies tonight!

  • Easton Ellsworth
    January 16, 2009

    Update: They were goooooood.

  • zy1125
    January 18, 2009

    I made these earlier this week. It took a lot longer than I expected, but the end product was really fantastic. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Kristen
    January 20, 2009

    You are killing me here. There is no way I CAN’T make these now. Yum!

  • doreen
    January 20, 2009

    These look marvelous! Samoas/Caramel deLites were always a favourite of mine, but as I’ve gotten older and a little bit more health-conscious, the partially-hydrogenated oil in them began to gnaw at my better judgement.

    This way, I can make these awesome cookies sans the offending ingredient, *and* I can have them all-year round! Thank you very much!

  • DCBaker
    January 29, 2009

    I was really excited about this recipe, but somewhat disappointed with the results. Dough was sticky and difficult to work with. Even after adding lots of extra flour and refrigerating the dough, I found that using a 1 1/2 inch cutter did not work. I went with 2 1/2 and it was much easier although still had to reshape many cookies. Putting in the hole, although a nice touch, was also time consuming and pointless since the caramel obscured the hole. I needed much more caramel, coconut, and chocolate than was listed here. The caramel was v. difficult to work with and my results were not nearly as nice as your photos. I had to run a spatula over the edge of the base of the cookies after dipping them so they weren’t totally coated and still provided a nice flavor balance. I ended up needing 2 oz. extra chocolate for the drizzle. Although you recommend a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, I had disastrous results with this. My ziploc bags broke twice, spilling out all my chocolate onto one cookie and ruining. I finally dug out my piping bag to finish the job. What a pain – these took me nearly 3 hours. I think you need to give a bit more guidance in your post because had I could have used some more information.

  • Stephanie
    February 1, 2009

    I was wondering if you could help me. I did everything in the directions, but I dipped them in chocolate first, then added the caramel.

    Also, the chocolate kept melting, so I had to refrigerate the cookies after dipping the bottom in the chocolate. Then when i added the caramel topping(despite several microwave visits, it was hard to get it to stick to the cookie and off my spoon), it started to melt the chocolate all over again, so I popped them in the fridge again.But the caramel/coconut topping was too hard, I thought I’d chip a tooth. Is there something I’m missing?

    Should I be waiting a long time after dipping the chocolate for the chocolate to dry before making the topping and adding it?

    Also, I used Kraft chewy caramels.

  • Nicole
    February 1, 2009

    Stephanie – Caramels vary in consistency, so some may be a bit stickier to work with than others. Patience is key and all this is totally normal.
    That aside, you really need to put on the coconut/caramel before the chocolate to avoid the problems you experienced with melting chocolate and too-hard caramel. The cookies must be served and stored at room temperature to get a good (not too hard) consistency.

  • Tashi
    February 2, 2009

    Hi there! I did a google search for girl scout cookies and happened across your site. I tried making these cookies and they are SO good! A couple of things that I did:

    1 – I didn’t add any milk to the dough because mine turned out pretty wet.

    2 – I went with the bar idea – I spread the dough out on a cookie tray and baked the whole thing sort of like a pizza crust. In retrospect, it would have been better to put it in a pan because my shortbread spread out quite a bit. I don’t think this is supposed to happen, but I’m not really sure (this was my first time making shortbread.)

    3 – I used less caramel (2 5.5oz packages of Werther’s minus a couple that mysteriously “disappeared”) and used a double boiler to melt it.

    4 – I spread the caramel/coconut mixture on the cooled shortbread and then left it to cool while I ate dinner. After dinner, I cut the shortbread w/topping into squares.

    5 – I melted 2 cups of chocolate chips in a double boiler and then dipped the squares in. The shortbread crumbled a bit but the caramel topping seemed to hold it together.

    6 – I put the cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes to set, but had to let them thaw out before I could eat them.

    Some of the shortbread fell apart while I was cutting it so I ended up with about 2-3 dozen cookies.

    Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

  • Harry
    February 10, 2009

    I just tried this recipe – followed it exactly – and had really disappointing results. 🙁 The caramel mixture did not stick to the cookie at all, and ended up rather tough, thick, and too chewy. I remember the real Samoa texture to be rather easy to bite into – but these were just – hard (the caramel part not the shortbread part). (And I used the chewy/soft caramels, not the hard ones, and I actually weighed them to make sure I had the precise amount). Any suggestions?

    I ended up having to pull off all the caramel/coconut mixture from the cookie tops, since they wouldn’t stay on anyway, and throw that part away. 🙁

  • Cookie Recipes Lover
    February 12, 2009

    Samoas are my favorite cookies… well next to sugar cookies. I hate that I can’t have them year round. So hopefully if I can get around to baking (I don’t cook at all), I can have them twice a year. Thank you much for the recipe.

  • Dereck
    February 13, 2009

    Woooow, I would like to eat it from the picture. Great recipe by the way.

  • ChrisitneMM
    February 14, 2009

    Wow, thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m going to make them and blog this, link over to your blog. My kids are going to jump up and down when I tell them you’ve recreated Samoas!

  • Kasey
    February 15, 2009

    These cookies were absolutely awesome! They looked and tasted so good! Next time, I would double the caramel/coconut and chocolate topping (not enough for all the cookies) and I would use milk chocolate b/c the semi-sweet was a little too dark for my taste. Awesome recipe! They were rather time consuming, but it was very therapeutic!

  • Dora
    February 16, 2009

    Nice recipe, but I’m kind watching my callories these days.

  • Key West
    February 21, 2009

    ThAnKs. ThEsE CoOkIeS ArE SwEeT. MaKe ThEm @ HoMe

  • jackie
    February 23, 2009

    thank you! SUCH a nice alternative. the cookie boxes are getting too expensive these days!!

  • Pamela
    February 23, 2009

    Hi, 🙂

    February 25, 2009

    OMG!! Girl you have to be kidding…. recipe for Caramel deLites… … i must be dreaming!!!! :)~ Thank you, we are going to try this soon!!!

  • P.Sherman
    March 4, 2009

    Samoas are also my absolute favorite gs cookie. But you can only get them once a year and their spendy. I will definately try this recipe but it better be as goood as the real things!!

  • gina
    March 9, 2009

    You do need to free up a few hours to make these. Also, I would suggest dipping the cookies in chocolate first. I also added condensed milk since I noticed the GS cookies used it, and that seemed to help add to the flavor of Samoa’s. The cookies were good, but still needs tweeking to get it close to the real thing.

    Thanks for posting the recipe.

  • Alex
    March 11, 2009

    I made these 2 nights ago. It is true they are a little time consuming, but so worth it! They taste yummy and very similar to somoas, but the cookie was not quite what I was hoping for. I had to add about 1/4-1/2 cup extra flour because my dough was way to sticky. Would still recommend you all try it because they are delicious!

  • Celeste
    March 12, 2009

    I had the same problem with the caramel being very hard and not sticking to the cookie. I couldn’t find Werther’s caramels, so I used another brand that did not have hydrogenated oils. What do you think–would I do better or worse making the caramel from scratch?

  • Valerie
    March 25, 2009

    After you toast the coconut would it work to put it in the blender for a second to make the coconut finer before mixing in the carmel? I’ve noticed the GS Somoa’s have very fine coconut and I think that’s why my coconut haters will eat a Somoa. Has anyone tried this?

  • wendy
    April 1, 2009

    I have made these cookies and your bar version – both are very good. I do have one question / problem … here in Texas, you can never predict the weather – and the last time I made these, it turned out to be pretty warm that day. I had dipped the cookies and let them set in the fridge then put them in an air tight container. The next day, the chocolate was stuck to the bottom of my container, and coming off the cookie bottoms. Is there something I can add to the chocolate to make them stay “set” like a candy bar at room temperature? It wasn’t THAT warm in the house…. thanks for any ideas!

  • hdtv antenna
    April 3, 2009

    Oh my bleepin’ goodness! Not once did I even think of making homemade Samoas before. These were my fave cookies, and I wanted to join the girl scouts so I could have 24/7 access to the cookie order form. Will have to try this recipe out. Yum!

  • Grace
    April 5, 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.


  • Kim
    April 5, 2009

    My friend and I attempted these last night, and…well…they didn’t quite turn out as expected.


  • Snowy
    April 9, 2009

    These were wonderful! I’ve always loved Samoas. 😀

    Though one thing I noticed when we bought them last time was that they seemed to be coated completely with caramel first, then covered with baked coconut, and finally dipped in chocolate after that. I don’t know if that would be easier or harder to do, but I guess it’s worth mentioning…?

    Well, thanks for posting this recipe either way!

  • Andrea C.
    May 7, 2009

    I was actually somewhat disappointed in these. Not that they didn’t taste good — but they just didn’t seem to be close enough to the real thing. I don’t think there was an error on my part, but they just didn’t live up to my expectations.

  • Diet Blog
    May 11, 2009

    Oh my! These look so amazing! Know I’ll be thinking about making cookies all day, and I’m supposed to be watching what I eat now! I’m okay to have a cheat meal this weekend, so I might make this!

  • Bill
    May 22, 2009

    OMG so delicious. My daughter sells girl scout cookies I can’t wait to give this a try!

  • Mary W.
    May 26, 2009

    I made them and loved them 🙂

    – I saved a bunch of time by omitting the hole in the shortbread, and instead spreading the caramel topping over the entire cookie and using the blunt end of a corn-on-the-cob holder/sticker to put an indentation in the topping, and then drizzled with chocolate.

  • Cookie Maket
    July 8, 2009

    I made these with my sister and they looked nothing like this…

  • Qyneshia
    July 16, 2009

    Thank U ,Thank U,Thank U, for this recipe because I love these Girl Scout Cookies these are my favorite cookies I love these cookies s much I dream about them in my sleep

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