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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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  • Hayley
    February 2, 2009

    These look amazing! I just drooled on my keyboard 🙂

  • Kim U
    February 2, 2009

    Oh, yum! Thanks so much for posting this!

  • Katrina
    February 2, 2009

    Yummy deliciousness! What a simple, fun way to make these.

  • eiluj
    February 2, 2009

    Thank you! I have made the samoas a couple of times and they have become my husband’s favourite. 🙂 Now I can whip up a batch in no time.

  • CaSaundra
    February 2, 2009

    I love the idea of this! I have a feeling my college floormates will adore them =) Yummmy

  • Linda
    February 2, 2009

    Oh, sure, NOW you post this one after I just did the cookies this morning and mumbled to myself that rolling out cookies and all the other parts were a little too busy for me. The bar would have been perfect! Oh, well, I know now I will prefer the bar but keep the cookie for special occasions. LOL

  • Dani
    February 2, 2009

    looking good!!!!

  • Lisa
    February 2, 2009


    You mean I can eat these at any time of year now, not just when Girl Scout cookies come out?

    It’s the end of my skinny pants, I tell you!

  • MrsPointless
    February 2, 2009

    omg those look divine.

  • Kara
    February 2, 2009

    WOW – a perfect way to simplify an otherwise perfect cookie. YUM YUM YUM

  • merlotmom
    February 2, 2009

    My daughter will love me! Thank you!

  • Elyse
    February 2, 2009

    Oh wow! Those Samoa bars look even better than their Girl Scout counterparts–and I love their Girl Scout counterparts. Your blog is just wonderful, and I always look forward to seeing your new posts! Cannot wait to make these little treasures.

  • Squash Blossom Mom
    February 2, 2009

    These look wonderful – can’t wait to try them!!

  • Becky
    February 2, 2009

    Oh good grief! I may have to pretend I didn’t see this recipe! I won’t tell my husband either! I can tell what I’ll be making these little gems this month! Thanks for posting!

  • Kate
    February 2, 2009

    Those look absolutely amazing! A weekend project – yay!

  • Dusty
    February 3, 2009

    Mmmmm…..this is my most favorite kind of girl scout cookies. Thank you for posting this!

  • Patricia Scarpin
    February 3, 2009

    These look so good, Nic. I love the layers!

  • Emma
    February 3, 2009

    Thanks so much! I was about to make your samoas the other day but they looked too time consuming. I’ll have to try these out this weekend!

  • colleen
    February 3, 2009

    Oh my, I need to make these very soon! They look fabulous!

  • Denise
    February 3, 2009

    Wow. These look good!
    I WAS holding off because the cookie recipe did seem a little time consuming … but now, wow.

  • Carol
    February 3, 2009

    OH MY GOSH! I about went over backwards in the computer chair! The picture took my breath away! These are on my to try soon list for sure!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Stephanie
    February 4, 2009

    I recently made the Samoa cookies, and they tasted quite amazing! The only problem I had in making them was that the coconut/caramel mixture had issues in sticking to the actual cookie…did anyone else have problems with this and how did you get around it? Thanks!

  • Talita
    February 4, 2009

    Wow! What a perfection! I love it!

  • Kulby
    February 4, 2009

    OMG! I just made these and they are amazing. I didn’t have caramels but I did have Hershey’s caramel topping so I just skipped the combining the melted caramels, milk, and salt step and just used about 3/4 cup of the caramel topping instead…and they still taste wonderful! I might do this next time I make them too because it definitely saves some time. I also roasted the coconut in the oven while the cookie base was baking…I was just sure to check it often because the oven was at 350 and not 300. Thanks so much for this amazing recipe!

  • youri
    February 4, 2009

    This might be a silly question but can I make these using a 9×13 pyrex baking dish? Not sure if you need to use a metal one. Thanks!

  • heather
    February 4, 2009

    these bar-homemade Samoas are GENIUS!! I can’t wait to try this. These always were my favorites!

  • The Food Hunter
    February 5, 2009

    Samoas are my favorite. Thanks

  • Miyami Tamaki
    February 5, 2009

    Wow that’s delicious

  • chef barbie
    February 6, 2009

    and are those made with real girl scouts? 😉

  • Sara
    February 7, 2009

    These were fabulous – genius idea! I actually quartered the recipe and just made 8 in a loaf pan. I added an extra caramel and a touch extra milk to the topping to make it sticky enough to stick to the base.

  • Sarah
    February 7, 2009

    Mmm.. I shouldn’t be looking at these sites when I’m hungry… time to wipe the drool off my fave.. these look SO good…

  • Brownies for Dinner
    February 8, 2009

    Yum! Samoas are my favorite girl scout cookie. And these bar cookies look delicious and un-fussy enough for me to try sometime soon. Thanks 🙂

  • Jess
    February 8, 2009

    DELICIOUS. Made them this weekend and have been enjoying daily.

  • Mandy
    February 9, 2009

    I made these today, and they were great!

    I used a pyrex pan, placed a layer of chocolate chips in the bottom of the pan, put them in the oven for a minute (while it was preheating), spread it to a thin layer, then placed the cookie base on top. It worked ok, but didn’t work great, the chocolate got a little too hot. It was still easier than dipping the cookies.

    Next time, I am going to cook the cookie base, then spread a thin layer of chocolate on top, then add the coconut-caramel mixture. I’m hoping that will help it adhere to the cookie base a little better.

  • kim
    February 10, 2009

    having made both the bar and cookie version i will say the bar version saves a lot of time. however, the cookies have a much cleaner presentation. also, the shortbread/cookie crust was very crumbly compared to the cookie. we’ll see which my fiance likes better 🙂

  • Jenna
    February 11, 2009

    I thought the cookie was a bit thick in comparison to the topping and made it seem a little off-balance to me, but I can’t deny that they were still delicious! Thanks so much for this recipe!

  • Wendy
    February 12, 2009

    Just the pictures alone make me want to get in my car RIGHT NOW and drive to the grocery store for the ingredients! Too bad it’s the middle of the night, but OH – they look delish!!!

  • Agirlhastoeat
    February 13, 2009

    I love the pictures. Those cookies look fantastic!

  • colleen
    February 13, 2009

    What kind of chocolate do you use to dip or drizzle the bars or cookie sin?? Are chocolate baking bars ok ??

  • sara
    February 13, 2009

    why not just temper the chocolate and spread it on a sheet and while the short bread is still hot out of the oven transferred it on top of the chocolate? Thats how I do mine no messy dipping involved

    collen I recommend getting a toll house melting chocolates they are in most grocers baking section and they can be microwaved

  • sir jorge
    February 16, 2009

    that is truly impressive

  • meg
    February 17, 2009

    Hi nicole! I made this and OMG!!!! Everybody loved them! It was crazy! just a few things tough: my cookie base wasn´t like wet sand but more like really thick and kinda hard to spread, eventoughit did turn out perfect after baking. also it didn´t yield so many bars as your so i ended up using only half the caramels with double the milk listed…added half the coconut as well and that addeud up to a silky smooth topping that was awwwwwwsome 🙂

  • Margie
    February 18, 2009

    I had made your other recipe for these, and there were fantastic! I can’t wait to try this in a bar cookie. Thanks!

  • Mariah
    February 22, 2009

    I am curious, did you use the sweetened or unsweetened coconut for testing purposes….and would you reccomend that one, or the other?

    Thanks so much!

  • amy
    February 22, 2009

    I made these this weekend. My children loved them. My neighbors loved them. I only wish I got some of them to tell if I liked them. 🙂

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