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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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  • Ally
    November 1, 2010

    I just made these to send to my husband who is in the military. They turned out great, and they were a big hit. Everyone recognized what cookie I was mimicking. I was amazed they tasted so much like the actual cookie. My shortbread base was a little too flakey/crumbly, but I tend to have that issue with any shortbread. I didn’t dip the base because it’s best not to ship so much chocolate, but I thought the drizzle on top was plenty. Thanks for the recipe!

  • CrystalG
    December 11, 2010

    Tried these today and had the same problem as some others, the cookie part fell completely apart. Oh well, toasted coconut mixed with caramel and dipped in chocholate sounds like a cool new candy bar! I am certain that they will get eaten anyway. Not the prettiest things on earth, however.

    I will try again soon and see if I can figure out what went wrong.

  • Damien A
    December 22, 2010

    For people who have trouble with the cookie base falling apart… try making it without the egg next time. The cookie part is the same recipe (minus the egg) I use to make the base of delicious lemon bars, so I didn’t use the egg with this and had no problems.

  • Jessica
    February 6, 2011

    These were great – everyone loved them! After reading the comments about the crumbly crust I followed one reviewer’s suggestion of omitting the egg; worked like a charm. Dipping was still pretty messy so I wound up using a knife to spread chocolate on the bottom.

    Next time I will try spreading a layer of chocolate chips on top of the cookie base right when it comes out of the oven so it can melt. Then flip over onto wax paper (so chocolate is on bottom) and continue recipe. I also thought the cookie base was a little too thick so I will use a jellyroll pan instead of a 9 x 13.

    Excellent cookies – thank you so much for the recipe. You are very talented!

  • Maria Trader
    February 8, 2011

    I saw this posted on pinterest and I just have to say thank you from my taste buds for posting this recipe and also curse you from my thighs for posting this recipe.

  • Christina @ Sweet Peas Kitchen
    February 18, 2011

    I made these last night and blogged about them today-they are incredible!! Samoas are my absolute favorite girl scout cookies ever..thanks for an awesome recipe! 🙂

  • ShaRhonda
    February 18, 2011

    Thank you for sharing this. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Of course in moderation. LOL! Glad I found your blog!

  • cindy cabrera
    February 19, 2011

    i made these last night and omitted the egg great base but then when i added the carmel with the coconut it didnt stick to the cookie base? why? everything look good but the carmel didnt stick???

  • emma
    February 24, 2011

    i made these last night without reading the user comments first and i wish i did! the shortbread description of “crumbly, like wet sand” wasn’t what happened in my mixer.. lol. omitting the egg would’ve been a perfect fix – my batter was wet and creamy, not crumbly at all, but still spread in the pan. my mom suggested adding some brown sugar to crumble it up – do not do this! it’s far too sweet, and if you use parchment in your pan, the parchment will fuse to the sugar in the dough! i actually had to peel off some parchment paper from my cookies after slicing them up with the coconut on top. they still turned out amazingly delicious and i covered up my mistakes by dipping the bottoms of the cookies into the chocolate – you can’t even tell what a mess i went through to make these! i’m going to try the thin mints next 🙂

  • fiona
    February 26, 2011

    just made these. they looked really pretty but were wayyy too sweet:[ it might be because of the caramels though, since i made my own caramels last night for these. the waiting and dipping were a real hassle so i probably won’t be making these again. thank you for the recipe though ^_^

  • Laurie
    March 4, 2011

    Made these bars for a work event, and they were delicious! I loved the combo of flavors, and it sounds like my coworkers did, too. The shortbread, though, was WAY too thick for my taste. I think thinner (and crispier?) would be better, so I’d cut it in half next time I made these (I did follow the recipe exactly).

    I was able to find good quality caramels and dark chocolate at my local Aldi’s for a really low price. Using very dark chocolate complimented the caramel’s sweetness really well.

    I cut some time off by baking the coconut in the oven with the shortbread. I stirred it every five minutes, then turned it down to 300* when the shortbread came out. I put the coconut tray on the rack below the shortbread, and this seemed to keep it from getting overly brown.’

    Great recipe; I’ll definitely try these again!

  • CJ
    March 18, 2011

    I made these this afternoon and the family LOVED them!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Norwegian Phoenix
    May 23, 2011

    These just look so amazing! I may be making these in the next few days. Yum! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Michelle
    June 18, 2011

    Thank you for this recipe!! I just made it for our Father’s Day dessert. I found them a bit time consuming, but not difficult. I skipped the egg in the crust, but otherwise did it exactly as written. Deeeeelicious! 🙂

  • Marisa
    June 30, 2011

    I just met you, but I already love you. You said “samoas” and “shortcut” in the same sentence. Like music to my ears. Can’t wait to make these!

  • Jessie
    July 5, 2011

    A friend of mine made these for the 4th of July yesterday and just sent me the recipe. They are insanely good! I couldn’t stop eating them and can’t wait to make them myself!

  • Sue
    August 13, 2011

    Great recipe! In the interest of time, I cheated big time by not dipping the cut bars in the chocolate. I just dumped chocolate chips on top of the shortbread base, let it melt and then spread out the chocolate. I followed it up with the caramel-coconut mixture and drizzled with melted chocolate. It’s a little backward, but tasty just the same. I now understand what you meant by “good quality caramels”. The popular store brand is fine, but I will search for something else next time. And there will be a next time. Thanks for posting!

  • yo yo
    September 15, 2011

    where do you get quality carmels? do you think its better to use dark or semi sweet chips?

  • Carol
    October 15, 2011

    Just made these! I left out the egg and the shortbread turned out decent- still crumbled a lot when I cut the bars. The coconut topping was really thick- I would use 2 cups of coconut next time. Otherwise- really good!!!

  • Sylvia Estey
    December 13, 2011

    Wish I had read comments, mine were almost “brittle” when trying to cut apart. Very disappointed. Had to walk away from them I was so upset. Thank heavens I am planning ahead for an Open House on Sunday and have time to make something else.

  • Susan Bratton
    December 15, 2011

    The bars were almost a disaster. I did not read the comments until I had already put the crust in the oven. The bars were too difficult to cut so I decided to break them apart by hand. Then I had to add the topping to each piece, one at a time. The topping had to be reheated many times because as it cooled it would not stick to the crust. For the chocolate, I used Duncan Hines Amazing Glaces. The cookies tasted great, but I ended up with irregular shapes and sizes.

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