I know what you’re thinking.
Liz, this is a seasonal blog, and, giiiiiirl, Girl Scout Cookie Season is over.
And you’re exactly right…though could you blame me for having a bit of seasonal confusion when today, the first day of spring, “feels like 5 degrees” according to weather.com? Ahem.
But back to the cookies. Girl Scout Cookie Season is over, and in fact, we’re eleven months out from endless boxes of Samoas, Thin Mints, and Tagalongs….eleven months. So what’s a girl to do when it’s, let’s say…May, and she needs a Samoa?
Recipes like this one have been floating around the Interwebs for years. I’ve pinned numerous variations because I am somewhat of a coconut junkie, like my mother before me, and I am in love with coconut-laden treats like Samoa and her more available cousin Almond Joy.
But it was the realization that I only have one box of Samoas stashed in my freezer…one box to get me through eleven more months…that motivated me to finally try to make these cookies at home. I read through multiple copycat recipes, and finally settled on this one from the blog Just a Taste.
And now I’m not sure I can go back.
(Warning – I hope to never make another foodie-pretentious statement like this again):
After doing a taste test comparison of the Girl Scouts’ Samoas and my own, I felt like I could almost taste the corn syrup in theirs…and I didn’t like it.
Now before you go on and call me out on what sounds like hipster nonsense, let me explain. The homemade Samoas were just as they should be, with that crispy shortbread cookie crunch all buddied up to a gooey caramel coconut layer…but I felt like I could taste the nuttiness of the toasted coconut more, and there was just an extra taste of saltiness in the homemade variety that balanced out all of that sweetness in a way that makes you want to eternally alternate bites of these cookies withs sips of coffee.
Plus, I made them to be twice the size of your average boxed Samoa so that I could pride myself on eating just one (in the morning). You know this works for you too.
I will say this, however, in the boxed Samoa’s defense: these homemade Samoas are H-I-G-H high maintenance. There are steps like chilling and thinly rolling out sticky dough. The cookies kept wanting to spontaneously burn in the oven even though I watched them like a hawk (which is why I upped their size a little). You have to toast coconut which also likes to burn on you in the instant you aren’t looking…say, when you blink after not having looked away for 7 straight minutes. On top of that, there’s all that sticky caramel that you’re spreading..with your fingers. So yeah, these are sort of “desperate times call for desperate measures” cookies.
In other words, you really have to want these cookies. But I know and you know that you’ve been there…mid-May…Girl Scout Cookie-less. There will be desperate days to come, but now the long Girl Scout Cookie Season wait is over.
(recipe from Just a Taste
(yields 24 large cookies)
This copycat Girl Scout Samoas recipe tastes better than the real thing. I changed just a few things from the original recipe. I used salted buter and kept the 1/2 tsp. salt in the cookie part of the recipe which helped that salty-sweet combo really came through. I made these larger than the original, and I also altered several of the cooking instructions from the original recipe. See my notes at the end of the recipe instructions to help these cookies turn out just right!
For the cookies:
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the coconut topping:
3 c. shredded sweetened coconut
15 oz. store-bought caramels
3 tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz. (1 1/3 c.) dark chocolate
Make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In three increments, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter, mixing between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add the milk and vanilla extract, blending until combined and the dough begins to come together in large pieces.
Use your hands to divide the dough in half, pressing each half into two compact disks. Wrap the disks securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate them until firm, about 1 hour.
Once the dough has chilled, roll each disk out onto a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8-inch thick (tip: sprinkle flour on top of the dough too as you roll to keep rolling pin from sticking). [If the dough is too firm to roll out after being refrigerated, let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling and cutting out the cookies.]
Cut out as many cookies as possible with an outer circle 3" across and an inner circle of 1" across(*1) Place the cut-out cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.
Bake the cookies for 7-10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half-way through, until the cookies are pale golden brown(*2). Transfer the cookies to a wire wrack to cool completely. Once cool, place on a wax paper for the topping step.
Make the coconut topping:
Spread the coconut flakes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the coconut for about 5-10 minutes in a 350ºF oven until toasted, stirring EVERY MINUTE to ensure even browning and so that it does not burn (*3). Remove the toasted coconut from the oven and set it aside.
Melt the caramels, milk and salt in a double-boiler (*4) by placing the caramels in a medium saucepot (or bowl) set over a large saucepot of simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramels are fully melted. Move the entire double boiler set up over to your workspace and place on a trivet (this keeps the caramel melty).
Using about a 1/4 cup of caramel mixture, carefully spread the caramel mixture atop the cooled cookies, using a spoon/butter knife (*5). Then, mix your toasted coconut into the remaining caramel mixture and let it cool just slightly (it will be easier to work with). Then press this mixture on to each cookie.
If the caramel-coconut mixture thickens too much at any point while pressing it onto the cookies, return the double boiler to a burner and warm it until it's spreadable again. Let the cookies cool for 30 minutes.
Melt the dark chocolate in 30-second bursts in the microwave, stirring between bursts until fully melted. Dip the bottoms of the cookies in the chocolate and place them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Use a spouted measuring cup to drizzle the tops with chocolate. Let the cookies sit until the chocolate hardens fully (*6).
Store cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator, separated by layers of wax paper. Take out a few minutes before eating to let them soften slightly.
1. For cutting out the cookies: you can use a doughnut cutter or just search around your kitchen with a ruler, like I did, until you find something circular that's approximately the right size. I used a cleaned spice jar for the inner circle and a small bowl for the outer.
2. Don't overbake the cookies! You're aiming for pale golden on the top. When in doubt, underbake. I started watching them after rotating the pan at 4 minutes. I usually didn't get past 7 minutes...and then they'd suddenly be over done. So keep a close eye on them!
3. Watch the coconut as it toasts. Do not multitask. It will burn on you.
4. Don't have a double boiler? Me neither. Find a rimmed heat-proof bowl that nests inside of one of your pots without touching the bottom of the pot.
5. Don't skip spreading the caramel-only step. This acts as a glue when you press on the caramel-coconut mixture.
6. You can speed up the final cooling process by placing these in the freezer for about 10 minutes.