Samoa Bars are reminiscent of the popular Girl Scout Cookie. Crisp, buttery shortbread, smothered with a thin layer of dreamy salted coconut caramel, then topped with rich dark chocolate and toasted coconut.
The annual Girl Scout cookie season is something that my family and I look forward to every year. Being that I live in a house full of males, I rely on the kindness of little strangers that come to my doorstep to fulfill our Girl Scout cookie needs. Come January each year, I practically leap to answer the doorbell every time it rings, hoping that a cute little Brownie or Girl Scout will be on the other side, cookie order form in hand. Then we wait in anticipation for weeks until the cookies are delivered.
If you’re anything like me, those little boxes of cookies don’t last but a few days after arrival. The Samoas are always the first to go. Those crunchy, caramel and coconut wonders are my family’s favorite Girl Scout cookie. With only fifteen cookies per box and six people in my family, an open box is an empty box. It’s tragic, really. We get all amped up for the cookies to arrive, only to have the box of our favorites meet its demise in one fell swoop. Thus begins the waiting for next year’s cookie season.
Right about the time that Girl Scout cookies were being delivered this year, I was working on a distinctly different caramel recipe. It uses coconut milk rather than heavy cream. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to experiment with such quirky ideas, but compelled I am. Suffice it to say that once an idea strikes, I have no choice other than to follow through with it, lest I lose sleep at night pondering the possibilities. After a few trial runs, I refined a salted coconut caramel recipe that resulted in something I think is pretty fantastic. Now the only real question left was what to do with it? Pouring salted coconut caramel over ice cream or a warm brownie is an obvious, though tasty solution.
I was nearly settled on the obvious route when another idea struck me – Samoa Bars!
My shortbread cookie recipe is perfect, so why not slather it with the salted coconut caramel and chocolate? I couldn’t think of one thing that could be bad about that arrangement. Besides, if I could master Samoa Bars, we’d no longer be forced to endure the agonizing wait until the next Girl Scout cookie season.
That’s the sort of thing that keeps me up at night, Friends. I’m not a patient person when it comes to cookies.
Samoa Bars were on! Although this recipe is comprised of three distinct layering components, the steps are straight forward enough that the bar cookies come together fairly easy. The salted coconut caramel can be made a few days ahead of time, enabling the cookies to be assembled in less time on baking day. Simply press the shortbread dough into a foil lined baking pan, bake it until the edges are golden, score it, and let it cool.
Once the shortbread has completely cooled, spread the caramel over top, drizzle with melted chocolate, and sprinkle toasted coconut over all. Give the cookie layers a little time to get acquainted while the chocolate sets, and then they’re ready to be cut into bars for serving.
Homemade Samoa Bars are a sweet way to satisfy a Girl Scout cookie craving any time of year.
What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie, Friends?
Reminiscent of the popular Girl Scout Cookie, Samoa Bars are crisp, buttery shortbread, smothered in a layer of dreamy salted coconut caramel, and then topped with rich dark chocolate and toasted coconut.
45 minPrep Time
1 hr, 20 Cook Time
2 hr, 5 Total Time
- 1 ½ C. unsalted butter (3 sticks)
- 1 C. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 ¼ C. all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 ¾ C. light coconut milk (such as A Taste of Thai Lite)
- ½ C. honey
- 1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs. salted butter
- ¼ C. unsweetened coconut flakes, minced
- 1 C. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- 2 Tbs. unsweetened coconut, minced and lightly toasted
- Bring the coconut milk, honey, and pink salt to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, whisking frequently to combine. Lower the heat to medium, and continue boiling the caramel until it is reduced by half, whisking every 5 minutes to keep it from scalding or bubbling over. (Between 30 to 40 minutes.) Don’t skimp on the reduction time or the caramel will not set to a spreadable consistency. Once reduced by half, the caramel should be medium brown in color. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salted butter until the butter has melted and incorporated into the caramel. Fold in ¼ cup of the minced coconut. Remove the caramel from the heat and transfer it to a small glass bowl. Allow the caramel to cool completely in the refrigerator before using.
- The salted coconut caramel may be prepared up to two days in advance, if desired.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with aluminum foil, and then spray the foil well with baking spray; set the prepared pan aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl on low speed, until it appears fluffy and lighter in color. Add the vanilla extract and salt, stirring to fully incorporate. Add the flour to the creamed butter mixture in 2-3 batches, stirring well in between to combine. Dump the shortbread dough into the prepared baking pan. Use damp fingers to press the shortbread into an even layer in the pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until the edges are very lightly browned and center is set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Allow the shortbread to cool for 4 minutes. After cooling slightly, score the shortbread into serving pieces by pressing a bench scraper or sharp knife three-fourths of the way through it. Use a wooden skewer to press a few holes in each piece in which the caramel will settle. Let the shortbread cool completely before proceeding.
- Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl for about 1-2 minutes on half power. Stir rapidly until the melted chocolate is completely smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate to a small sandwich (or piping) bag. Twist the top of the bag to force the chocolate toward one corner of the sandwich bag.
- Lightly toast the coconut in a small skillet set over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden brown.
- Once the shortbread has completely cooled, use the foil overhang to lift it out of the baking pan, and place it onto a large cutting board. Carefully peel the foil away from the edges of the shortbread.
- Spread the salted coconut caramel evenly over the shortbread. Snip a tiny end off of the bag of melted chocolate, generously drizzling ¾ of it over the caramel layer. Sprinkle toasted coconut over the melted chocolate. Drizzle the remaining chocolate over the bars. Let stand until the chocolate is firmly set.
- Once the chocolate has set, cut the cookies into bars by using a sharp knife or bench scraper to press through the scored lines. Samoa Bars may be stored in a single layer in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. Be sure to give the bars time to come to room temperature before serving.
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