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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.

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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  • hms
    December 21, 2012

    I followed the directions. I also had problems dipping the cookie into the chocolate. The cookie dough just fell apart and even separated from the caramel.

    Next time, I guess I would invert the cookies and brush the chocolate on like Beth mentioned. Just wish I had thought of that before I made them.

    I also used parchment paper but think I would use waxed paper instead next time. Even when cooled, I had a hard time removing the cookie from the parchment paper.

  • Ornella
    December 22, 2012

    The best solution I found. After I spread the cookie dough in parchment paper, I wet my hands and spread the dough so it was evenly spread. I melted the caramel with milk (worthers Carmel’s tasted best). When I took the crust out of the oven, I scooped the Carmel mixture over the cookie, and with wet hands I pressed down and was able to spread evenly over the warm crust. I used a pizza cutter. The cookie separates a little, but not too bad if its cool. I use a milk chocolate bar and chocolate chips and milk chocolate, not semi sweet to dip. They taste better. I found melting a milk chocolate bar was not as thick and clumpy.

  • Judy Bone
    February 4, 2013

    I would like to know if these can be frozen.

  • Nancy
    March 15, 2013

    How is dipping individual bars easier then dipping individual cookies? I don’t see the advantage here.

  • Julie
    March 21, 2013

    Looks so delicious! I actually found this recipe through another blog… thought you might want to know about this as they used your entire recipe and pictures and did not even mention where the recipe came from (I was able to find it via Google). http://pinrecipes.blogspot.com/2012/12/homemade-samoas-bars.html 🙁

  • Jen
    March 23, 2013

    Mine were a disaster. I could only find Kraft caramels and 12 was clearly not enough by a long shot. I added 6 more, but wasn’t enough. My base crumbled, my coconut mixture didn’t stay on the cookie base at all and dipping them was impossible. I knew better than to melt my chocolate in the microwave, but did it anyway and wasted an entire cup of chocolate chips. I’m not giving up!! I plan to try again, maybe put the coconut mixture while the base is still warm, double the amount of caramels (or find better quality ones), and change up the chocolate part too.

  • Carol
    March 23, 2013

    I spent all afternoon making these and I went exactly by the recipe. I didn’t have any problems making them but I just didn’t like them, to me they were too salty. I won’t be making them again.

  • Jaime
    March 28, 2013

    I won’t make these again until I find a better crust. The crust is dry,crumbly and very bland tasting. These didn’t taste like Samoes, at best maybe a homemade twix bar? I added extra caramel even (yummy homemade caramel), and it still wasn’t enough, in my opinion, for 3 cups of coconut. These have potential, but the crust, for sure, has to be fixed.

  • Nancy
    March 29, 2013

    After reading all the comments, I was afraid to try dipping them. I decided to put the bars in a low oven(200) for about three minutes. When I took them out, I pressed the caramel layer down and then let them cool. I also cut them smaller so they would be easier to handle. They are setting now. So far, no separation! Also, it’s 12oz. Not twelve caramels. I used a 14oz. Bag (Kraft) of caramels; should have increased the milk by a tablespoon. Hope this helps!!

  • JIndra
    March 30, 2013

    Nancy I was starting to regret planning these bars after reading the previous comments. Thank you for a good idea and I will now proceed. Hope your’s come out well because I am following in your footsteps

  • Wendy
    April 2, 2013

    Tried these and loved them. I made the cookie base the day before and only needed a minute in the microwave to melt the Carmel. I did melt the chocolate in a double boiler so I had more control over the chocolate. I think these will become my new recipe that I will always be asked to make! Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen P
    April 3, 2013

    Made these for Easter…. Huuuge hit! I found out last minute I had no flour and used pancake mix…kept poking it with a spatula to lessen the rise. Double up on the caramel and coconut…WELL worth it! I toasted the coconut at the same time i cooked the base. I too flipped the base to spread choc on the bottom. I also did 8 oz milk and 2 oz dark. Omg these were heaven. Im making them again this weekend too

  • Karen P
    April 3, 2013

    I think i will put a layer of straight caramel between the bar and then put the mixture on that.

  • Lorraine B
    April 4, 2013

    Has anyone ever tried to freeze these? If so, Do they thaw out ok or does the chocolate sweat and become gross?

  • Joni
    April 7, 2013

    Yes the crust part is crumbly , the next time I make it the crust part will be made with a pillsbury sugar cookie dough that you tool out !

  • Denise
    April 27, 2013

    I made them and they worked out great! What I did differently was I cut the bars (without any toppings first). Then I spread the chocolate on the bottoms first. Then once they cooled and the chocolate dried, then I turned them over and spread the caramel/coconut mixture on the tops. Then I drizzled the top chocolate. It worked well. 🙂

  • emma
    April 30, 2013

    look’s just like real samoas

  • Michele
    May 15, 2013

    Walmart has started selling a Great Value brand that is just like the girl scout cookie. They sell for $1.88 per package. About the same size package as the girl scouts sell.

  • wendy
    May 21, 2013

    most all my shortbread recipes don’t have eggs in them. this maybe the trouble, I make all my crust in my food processor and use cold butter. Like Ina Garten says, Till it feels like peas!! then press it into my pan.

  • mom2ekes2
    June 10, 2013

    Aftr reading the comments and before I make the Samoa recipe I decided to try a change in the recipe: Instead of baking the cookie dough as long as recommended I will bake it for about half as long and top with the caramel/coconut topping and then return to the oven. Just so the caramel/coconut mixture will not harden too much I will add at least another tablespoon of milk, then pour on the cookie dough before returning it to the oven. Should set with the two layers being baked. If it does not. oh well! They will still taste great. I am especially looking forward to using this recipe after reading a comment about the dark choc being too much. Since I love dark chocolate this sounds perfect! Thank you for the recipe.

  • bakeca Potenza
    August 19, 2013

    this looks delicious

  • Lora
    November 10, 2013

    I made these exactly as the recipe stated and had a absolutely no issues… I didn’t dip the cookies, though…. I Just drizzled on the chocolate and so far they’re a huge hit! The dough turned out Super crispy and crumbly and the caramel and Coconut was scrumptious! The only thing I might change next time is the amount of caramels I use… I had issues covering every last edge of the large cookie, so there are some blank spots, but I made up for it by covering it in chocolate… Will DEFINITELY be making these again!

  • Ashley
    December 22, 2013

    I made these for my husbands birthday and he absolutely loved them! He has asked for me to make them the last three weekends, so I’m going to make another batch for Christmas. He’s at the store getting the ingredients 🙂

    The first dough batch I made, I realised I needed to tweak the recipe. I started out following the shortbread recipe exactly, but the dough was too wet and it wouldn’t smooth into the pan. I tried cooking it, but I didnt like the consistency…

    So, I just made a simple shortbread recipe with flour, sugar and butter. I just put a good amount of flour in a bowl and crumbled together with butter and sugar until the dough looked liked bread crumbs. Then add a tiny sprinkle of water which makes the dough form together so you can roll into a ball. I then rolled it out with a rolling pin and put it on a baking tray to bake.

    The dough came out perfectly! I let it cool on a cooling rack while I toasted the coconut. Careful, because the coconut can burn quickly if not turned.

    I live in the UK so I had a hard time finding caramels that could be melted down. I found a can of caramel by carnations. It was on the same isle as the condensed milk. I just mixed that with a tiny bit of milk and the coconut and spread it on the dough base.

    I then put the whole thing in the fridge to cool/set. After 15 minutes or so, I heated 2 bars of dark chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, making sure to stir so you don’t burn the chocolate. I then cut into bars and dipped the bar into the chocolate. I put these on wax paper to set. I used white chocolate for the drizzle on top. Just dipped a fork in the chocolate and drizzled fun designs on top. I left these on the wax paper for another 20 minutes so I could easily remove them once the chocolate had set.

    Like I said, these were a huge hit! They turned out being thicker than the picture. Thicker dough, thicker layer of caramel & coconut. They were absolutely delicious!! Enjoy! 🙂

  • LaDonna
    December 25, 2013

    I made these and my family and I didn’t like them. They didn’t taste like samos.

  • Renee
    February 5, 2014

    I love these! I followed the recipe as far as ingredients, but I didn’t want to spend time dipping and topping each piece, so after the shortbread had cooled a bit, I put a layer of most of the chocolate on top of it. Then I spooned the coconut and caramel mixture on top of that and then drizzled the remaining chocolate over the top. It help hold everything together and was quick and easy!

  • Lauren
    February 9, 2014

    I made these last night as my pregnancy craving has been Samoas for weeks now. They were definitely labor intensive, even following some suggestions like flipping the shortbread and covering the whole bottom in chocolate instead of dipping individual bars. The cookies were good but thicker than they appear in the photos so if I make them again I’ll divide it up into two smaller batches as I think the taste was very similar (we did a side by side comparison) Overall, fun to try once, but probably not getting added to my repertoire.

  • Homebaker
    May 25, 2014

    I didn’t use this recipe but used it as a reference and a point for learning how to make it. What I did was use was Sherry Yard’s Pate Sucre recipe for the shortbread dough which was basically the same as the above crust recipe but used 7 oz. of confectioner’s sugar and less flour instead. I made my own creamy caramel sauce from her book (lots of sugar, some water cooked to hard crack and then added cream and cream friache) then added 3 C. of sweetened toasted coconut to that. Finally made a chocolate ganache with 4oz dark and 4 oz milk chocolate chips with some cream. I didn’t have any problems with the caramel not sticking because it’s homemade and the consistency was perfect. The cookie base was also fine and didn’t crumble but again, I think it’s because the caramel sauce holds it together like glue. Really good and tastes better than Somoas but it was labor intensive. More time consuming and work involved then making pecan sticky buns.

  • Kelsey
    February 24, 2015

    I have made these twice and I LOVE THEM!! Everything turned out great – the crust wasn’t crumbly, there was no separation, they turned out perfect! However, after they were done and cooled I did find that the caramel was very hard and difficult to bite into (although that did not stop me!). Did anyone else have this problem? The first time I made them I used individually wrapped Kraft caramels I believe (I can’t remember the brand for sure). The second time I made them though I decided to use the caramel ice cream topping (in a jar). I used the thickest one I could find and then I mixed it with flour, until it was at a good consistency, so that it wouldn’t be too runny. It turned out perfect and I will definitely do that again next time!

  • Mimi
    June 24, 2015

    Great recipe! Looks delicious. Thanks.

  • Meghan
    May 24, 2018

    So Tasty! I was skeptical after reading so many mixed reviews but I decided to try it. I had to slightly vary the recipe based on what I had on hand. I used 2 cups sweetened coconut and 1 cup unsweetened coconut, and I used heavy whipping cream instead of milk. The shortbread cookie base is crumbly but if you coat it with chocolate it helps hold it together a bit better without be such a messy treat to eat. For those of you who had rock hard caramel layer (if I’m remembering candy chemistry correctly), if you melt your caramel too long or too high it goes to the “hard crack” stage which is great if you want hard candy but not if you want chewy so just barely melt your caramels and you’ll keep it chewy.

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