Saturday, March 29, 2008

Homemade Girl Scout Cookies

About a month ago, I found a great recipe for homemade Samoas (aka Caramel De-Lites, the best Girl Scout cookie ever) on Baking Bites. I filed it away as one to make eventually, then promptly forgot about it and went up to the Bay Area to visit my family. On that visit, my mom presented me with a box of these cookies to bring back to Jason, because they are his favorite. Never one to avoid jumping to conclusions, I decided that fate wanted me to make these cookies. To add to the serendipity, I made caramels this week for the candy website, and had about two pounds of amazingly soft, creamy caramels left over. Usually we give the extra candy away (or throw it out) but fortunately, I had the perfect use for the extra caramels this time.

So how did they turn out? They're fantastic! A rich, crisp butter cookie topped with chewy caramel and toasted coconut, dunked in chocolate and drizzled with more semi-sweet chocolate. But can they match up to the original? I'll let this picture do the talking...original Girl Scout cookie on the right, *cough*muchimproved*cough* homemade version on the left.

Here is the recipe I used, adapted from Nic at Baking Bites. I would say my biggest suggestion would be to NOT put holes in the cookies. Yes, it makes them look like the originals, but it's a big pain to cut the holes and then spread the coconut-caramel frosting over the top and maintain the hole. Unless you're wedded to the idea of making identical cookies, save your time and sanity and just make plain circles. Also, as you can see, my cookie is quite a bit larger. My cutter was a bit too large and the dough spread more than I thought it would, so I have jumbo Girl Scout cookies. That's not a bad thing, but they are pretty substantial, so I'll try and make them smaller next time. I also tweaked the original recipe a bit, so this recipe reflects my changes.

2 sticks room temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 2 tbsp milk (I used 1 tbsp)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. When light and fluffy, add the salt and vanilla extract. Turn off the mixer and add the flour and baking powder, then turn it on to low speed and mix until the flour is incorporated. Add 1 tbsp of milk and mix. If the dough is still too dry, add an additional spoonful of milk. It should come together but not be sticky.

Roll the dough (working in two or three batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. (My cutter was about 2 inches and the cookies turned out quite large). If you like, use a smaller cutter or a knife to cut out a center hole--I recommend omitting this step for convenience. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 cups coconut, toasted golden brown*
1 pound soft caramels, homemade or store-bought (like Werther's chewy caramels)
1/4 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp milk or cream
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

*To toast coconut, place it in an even layer on a cookie sheet and bake it for about 20 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes until it achieves a beautiful dark golden brown color. Allow it to cool before you use it.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk or cream and salt. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. If it is still very stiff, add another spoonful or two of milk or cream. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Place a heaping spoonful of the caramel mixture on top of each cookie. Spray your hands with cooking spray and mold it into a flat, even layer that covers the whole top of the cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and caramel.

Microwave the chips in a bowl until melted, stirring every 45 seconds to prevent overheating. If the chocolate is quite stiff once melted, add a spoonful or two of vegetable oil or shortening to thin it out and make it easy to dip the cookies. Dip the base of each cookie in the chocolate, covering the base completely, and place on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper. Repeat with remaining cookies. Place the extra chocolate in a Ziploc bag and snip off a tiny bit of one corner. Squeeze the chocolate out through the hole, drizzling stripes over the cookies. Refrigerate the cookies until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
I got about 3 dozen cookies out of this recipe.

We give it two chocolate-covered thumbs up!


  1. I'm so in love! Thanks for sharing these with us. I don't think Chris is going to get any! It's ruined Girl Scout Samoas completely. These really are SO much better!

  2. I'm at school, between student meetings, checking blogs, and totally craving one of these cookies. I hope there's still one (to two, maybe three?) left when I get home...

  3. HOW SINFUL! Next will you make the thin mint cookies?

  4. Yeah, I hate supporting children's associations too.

  5. So they are very good, though I have a few observations:

    1) Be prepared to destroy your kitchen making these, worth it though.

    2) I didn't need to cook the coconut nearly as long as suggested.

    3) Definitely best to avoid the holes in the middle, too much trouble.

    4) You really don't need to do the spraying of your hands thing to put on the caramel, it just feels slimy and doesn't help much.

    5) Though these are certainly some of the best cookies I've ever had they don't really taste like Samoas at all. They have chocolate and coconut and cookie, but as far as taste goes they aren't the same. I buy two cases of Samoas (12 boxes per case) every year, so I know a thing or two about these cookies.

    Other then that they are great and worth the trouble.

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