Sometimes, I just can’t bear to keep a recipe from you for one more second. This is one of those times. I just enjoyed one of these for dessert and it feels wrong that you don’t know about them yet. I don’t even know how much Girl Scout cookies go for now but I’m certain that they are way more than the $2.50 they cost when I was hustling them. (Insert depressingly accurate statement about how I suddenly feel super old.) While we still happily support the Girl Scouts whenever we are approached to buy cookies, we almost never end up eating them. The boxes get shoved farther and farther back in the pantry, resorted to only in the most dire of dessert emergencies. My overall experience of them is nostalgic but I always end up feeling a bit disappointed by the actual taste. Like, did I really just waste calories on that? This might make me crazy, I know. I am what I am, and I’m cool with it.

Samoas were always my absolute favorite of the cookies. I loved them dearly. I’ve made homemade versions of the cookies in the past and, while they are wonderful, I prefer a simplified version that still has that amazing flavor combo I love so much without rolling, cutting, dipping, etc. I decided to experiment with a bar version of this beloved cookie. I ended up taking various elements from the samoa cupcakes I made not too very long ago, and adapting to bar cookie form. In case you were wondering, this is the perfect reason to make a batch of homemade vanilla bean caramels. They definitely take the flavor to the next level. These bars turned out even better than I could have hoped for and now I’m just going to stop talking so you can make them ASAP.

  • Yield about 20 servings


For the shortbread base: 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping: 

  • 11½ oz. soft caramels (store bought or homemade)
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. milk
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • ½ tsp. coconut extract
  • 2¼ cups sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix on low speed just until combined. Add in the milk and vanilla and blend in briefly. Transfer the dough mixture to the prepared pan and press down into an even layer. Bake about 20-24 minutes, or until the shortbread is just set and light golden brown. Transfer to a  wire rack and let cool completely.

  • 02

    Add the chocolate for the cookie base to a small bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Spread the chocolate in a thin layer onto a piece of parchment over an area measuring around 9 x 9 inches. Remove the shortbread from the baking pan and place on top of the melted chocolate to coat the bottom completely. Using the parchment as a sling, gently return the slab of shortbread to the pan.

  • 03

    In a medium bowl, combine the caramels and the milk. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is fully melted and smooth. Stir in the salt, coconut extract and toasted coconut. Transfer the mixture to the pan with the shortbread and spread or press into an even layer. Melt the remaining chopped chocolate and drizzle over the top of the bars. Let set and cool completely before slicing and serving.