Homemade Samoas Cookies

As we past possibly the 4th cookie stand we’ve seen so far this year last Friday evening on the way to the grocery store, Kyle asked me why Girl Scouts don’t sell cookies door-to-door anymore.  We get bombarded at work with order forms, stalked into and out of the grocery store, K-Mart, the bank, the post office, etc. by Brownies selling cookies, yet it’s been years since we’ve had a Girl Scout come to our house to hawk her wares.  What happened here?

Homemade Samoas Cookies

In a matter of that one quick conversation, Kyle got me all worked up.  I walked my ass off for years trying to sell enough boxes to garner new patches for my sash (that I’d have to sew on myself, of course).  My mom worked at home and dad in construction or as a truck driver on the road for much of my childhood so my cookie order form never sat in a break room waiting to get filled.  So I walked and walked and walked.  And I’m sure when I was little, my mom walked with me, but I know that by the time I was 9 or 10, I was either out selling with my little brother or with friends from my troop.  When did this cultural rite of passage for girls go by the wayside, leaving the parents do the “hard work” of shaming their co-workers (yeah right) to buy their kid’s cookies or by setting up a stand to shame us shoppers (who, by the way, never carry cash!)?

Homemade Samoas Cookies

Alright, either way, I still do love me some Girl Scout cookies.  The summers I was a counselor at my local GS camp were the best.  Seriously guys – you think Willy Wonka had it good?  Think about the stockpile of cookies at a Girl Scout camp!!  A never.ending.supply.  And samoas have definitely been a favorite of mine for years.  These homemade samoas are very similar except that I got lazy and didn’t punch out an extra whole in the center of the butter cookies, thereby leaving extra real estate to be covered by caramel-coated toasted coconut.  It wasn’t a horrible problem to have.  They are dream cookies for coconut lovers like me, if not a little time-consuming and slightly frustrating to make (the caramel firms up pretty quickly)…but totally and completely worth the time anyway.  Now to go dig out that sash…


Homemade Samoas Cookies
source: adapted from Just a Taste, butter cookies adapted from this recipe

For the cookies:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the caramel coconut topping:

  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 15 oz caramels, unwrapped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For dipping and drizzling:

  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped


  1. To make the cookies: Sift together flour and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. Put butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar; mix until smooth. Mix in half of the egg and the vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into 2-inch rounds.  Using a spatula, transfer rounds to baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 1 inch apart.
  3. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are barely golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks using a spatula to let cool completely.
  4. To make the caramel coconut topping:  Spread the coconut out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet (use 2 sheets if one is overloaded).  In the 350 degree preheated oven, toast the coconut for 10-12 minutes, tossing halfway through as the pieces on the edges start to brown.  Once the coconut is uniformly browned, transfer it to large bowl and let it cool – it will crisp as it cools.  Heat the caramels in a small saucepan over low heat with the cream and salt until the caramel is melted, stirring to combine the ingredients.  Pour the 3/4 of the caramel over the coconut and stir everything together with a silicone spatula.  Pour the remaining 1/4 of the caramel into a small bowl.
  5. Spread a thin layer of the reserved caramel onto the top of a cookie then dollop 1 tablespoon of the caramel coconut mixture on top of the caramel layer, spreading it out to the edges of the cookie.  The bottom layer of caramel will help the caramel-coconut to adhere to the cookie.  Repeat with remaining cookies, setting them back on the parchment-lined baking sheets.  If the caramel topping hardens in the bowl, heat briefly in the microwave to soften.  Allow the caramel topping to set for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  6. Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl in the microwave for 30 second increments, until melted and smooth.  Dip the bottom of each cookie in the chocolate and place them back on the baking sheets to harden.  Once all the cookies have been dipped, drizzle the remaining chocolate over the cookies.  Store at room temperature.  Cookies can be heated for 10 seconds in the microwave if the caramel becomes difficult to bite into.

Yields: about 3 dozen (2-inch) cookies



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Leave a Comment

  • March 22, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    These look great, I can’t wait to try them! Thank you.. I was a girl scout, and then a leader. Times have changed so much, yet they need to make money to keep the troops going, but the amount each troop earns from each box is pennies! Now more than ever, going door to door is a safety issue I am sure, safety in numbers at the stores etc. Both parents working and can’t go around with the kids etc. So many factors. I gave up being a leader for the amount of work on me to sell them, haul them etc and earn not much for my troop became not worth it for my time. Miss it though, and wish fundraising could be done in a different manner.

  • March 22, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    OMG I love samoa’s and these homemade ones look perfect!!

    I had to walk door to door as a GS too and I’m shocked that it’s not really as big of a thing anymore? I mean, my friends and I used to also have a stand set up outside like…Walmart…and my parents would take order forms to work, but I also always walked around the neighborhood and got my sell on. It’s like…totally a part of the experience.

    • Susan
      March 22, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      Right on Kayle!! I totally agree with the door-to-door approach (with a parent or other GS’s along). It makes kids to talk to adults (for a change) and it’s all about the experience. Love those GS cookies!! Thanks Tara for your favorite GS cookie (Samoas) recipe!

  • March 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    I’m so right there with you on having walked to countless houses hawking the cookies and being pretty annoyed that now they just sit in stores, malls, etc. to do the same thing. But, I agree with the person who said it’s probably a safety issue. Sad it has come to that.

    I made homemade samoas a few years ago but the recipe I tried had some issues so I’ll definitely be revisiting it soon with this version!

  • Chrissa
    March 22, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Times have changed, it’s not exactly safe to walk door to door for any type of fundraising these days. That being said, I’ve had a few and a bunch of my coworkers have had a few girl scouts knock on their doors this year.

    These look great!

    • March 22, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      But was it more dangerous 20 years ago or are we just more vigilant (or perhaps overprotective?) today?

      • Chrissa
        March 25, 2013 at 9:05 AM

        In terms of going door to door, I don’t think it’s being overprotective to prevent children from doing it. 10 years ago my parents wouldn’t even let me go door to door for fundraisers and I had a lot more free reign than a lot of kids I knew. I think we’re much more aware of the dangers these days because we hear about it more now. But sending people door to door or even opening a door of a house for someone are things that I think it’s wise to use caution doing. I’m not always the most safety conscious when I’m out and about; I think about that when I bound into my car when it’s been sitting in a dark parking lot at night without a second thought, but if I’m alone in the house and someone knocks on the door, I’m not going to open it, even if I can see a kid standing outside!

  • March 22, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    I need to make these ASAP! Yum!

  • March 22, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Your photos are exceptional! The Samoas look wonderfully fabulous. If they taste as good as they look, they must be out-of-this-world delicious! Sure wish I had one right now…