I’ve recently added this new blog to my Google Reader. I was browsing through older recipes on the site when I discovered that Nicole had many recipes for homemade girl scout cookies. I love samoas so I decided immediately to give these a shot. The site contains recipes for both cookies and bars but I went with the bars since it eliminated the step of rolling out the dough and cutting out individual cookies.

These were fairly easy to make though there are several steps in the process. I had a few issues, though. The shortbread base was quite crumbly for me. As I cut the cooled and topped bars, the base was crumbling everywhere. That resulted in the bars looking sort of messy. Also, I found it difficult to dip the bars in the chocolate. It was very messy and the shortbread continued to crumble even in the chocolate. As a result, I wound up with a fairly thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of the bars. I think next time I would try to spread a layer of chocolate on top of the cookie base before adding the coconut/caramel on top. Despite these issues, the bars were really good! They have all of the flavors of the samoa cookies and, in my opinion, it’s a perfect combination of flavors!

Homemade Samoas Bars
from BakingBites.com

Cookie Base
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. (I needed to refrigerate my dough for a bit because it was so soft and sticky that it made it impossible to work with.)

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

Topping
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 300 F. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a pizza cutter.

Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. (Alternatively, you could melt the chocolate in a double boiler. I did it that way, which kept the chocolate warm and made it easier to dip all of the bars.) Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies.