There are a few short weeks in February when Colin and I debate about how many boxes of Girl Scout cookies is a reasonable amount to buy. Sadly, no matter how many boxes that ends up being, they never seem to last long enough. Hence why I’m writing about Girl Scout cookies in July. But, we don’t just argue about how many boxes to buy. We also disagree on which cookie is the best. My favorite has always been Thin Mints. Colin’s favorite are Samoas (or, where I sold Girl Scout cookies, Caramel Delights). I have not always liked Samoas. Actually, I remember avoiding them when I was younger. Most of that dislike came from my dislike of coconut. Now, coconut is a flavor that I am slowly starting to love. I don’t know if it’s because we live on a tropical island, or if it’s becoming more of a food trend, but it seems like everything comes in coconut flavor here. And, slowly but surely, I find myself ordering the coconut option more and more.
When Girl Scout cookie season came around this year, of course we bought a box of Thin Mints and Samoas. But this year, unlike previous years, I really liked the Samoas. Unfortunately, they still had that processed cookie taste to me (not to mention that Colin ate the whole box) so I knew the next, logical thing would be to make a homemade version. (I admit, maybe it’s just me that thinks that way, but you all are benefiting now!) I remembered seeing a recipe for homemade Samoas on one of my favorite blogs from a few years ago and figured I would give it a try. If the packaged Girl Scout version is good, the homemade version has to be better, right?
Turns out, I was right. These bars are incredible. The shortbread base is thick, buttery and dipped in bittersweet chocolate. That is topped with a caramel and toasted coconut mixture and finished with chocolate drizzle. The caramel, toasted coconut topping is so delicious, you could make it on its own and eat it with a spoon (or sneak a spoonful out of the bowl, I won’t tell).
With this recipe around, we will not need to wait until Girl Scout cookie season to have Samoas again. In fact, Girl Scouts everywhere should be afraid, or at least find something else to sell this year besides cookies, because I don’t think we’ll be buying Samoas ever again.
Samoa Cookie Bars
Servings: 30 bars
For the shortbread:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided
For the topping:
17 oz soft caramels (if store bought, about 1 1/2 bags)
Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix on low speed just until combined.
Add in the milk and vanilla and blend in briefly.
Transfer the dough mixture to the prepared pan and press down into an even layer.
Bake about 20-24 minutes, or until the shortbread is just set and light golden brown.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Make the chocolate layer (see note):
Add 6 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate to a small bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
To make the chocolate layer the base:
Spread the chocolate in a thin layer onto a piece of parchment over an area measuring around 9 x 13 inches. Remove the shortbread from the baking pan and place on top of the melted chocolate to coat the bottom completely. Using the parchment as a sling, gently return the slab of shortbread to the pan.
To make the chocolate layer the middle layer:
Spread the chocolate in a thin layer over the shortbread, using an offset spatula to ensure even thickness.
Make the topping:
In a medium bowl, combine the caramels and the milk.
Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is fully melted and smooth. This takes a lot longer than you might think. Just keep heating and stirring and it will eventually come together.
Stir in the salt, coconut extract and toasted coconut.
Transfer the mixture to the pan with the shortbread and spread or press into an even layer.
Melt the remaining chopped chocolate and drizzle over the top of the bars.
Let set and cool completely before slicing and serving.
1. Although the chocolate layer on the bottom is more traditional (last picture), I found that it was difficult to transfer the shortbread onto the melted chocolate and mine broke in a few places. It was easy to fix, and seamlessly fit back together once chilled, but I found it was a lot of work for not much of a flavor difference. Putting the chocolate layer in the middle (top two pictures) was much quicker, even though the shortbread seemed to crumble more when eating, and gave the coconut mixture something to adhere to. Both methods are listed in the instructions. Feel free to make them whichever way you prefer!
2. I increased the original recipe to fit into a 9 x 13 inch pan for a higher yield. For a smaller yield, a half recipe can be made in an 8 x 8 inch pan or two-thirds of the recipe in a 9 x 9 inch pan. Baking time for the shortbread may decrease slightly.