These Samoa bars are made completely from scratch (including the caramel!) and are a little healthier with 100% whole grains but can also be made with all-purpose flour!
Basically every Samoa recipe I’ve come across, whether cookies or bars, uses store bought caramels that you melt down with milk and other ingredients. I don’t get the point. And I don’t even mean from a health standpoint (although, yeah, I try to avoid processed food like that). My issue is that those things take forever to unwrap! We don’t have the same caramels over here in Germany so I actually used to bring them over with me but then I realized that was pretty dumb when I could just make caramel from scratch.
So for these Samoa bars, I made the super simple caramel I used in my mini caramel pecan tarts. I’d tried so many caramel recipes before that one, failed at them all, but I’ve made this one numerous times now without issue. If you’re afraid of making caramel like I am, then this is the recipe for you! You just mix everything together and let it simmer. The caramel isn’t in any way healthy, I’m afraid. It’s pretty much all cream, sugar, and butter. It’s a shame that I don’t like that date-based caramel stuff!
The crust is kind of like a shortbread cookie and I used whole spelt flour, making these Samoa bars 100% whole grain. My first choice of flour would have been white whole wheat, but I’m saving my single remaining bag for an emergency. I’m not sure what kind of situation would require a bag of white whole wheat, but you never know.
Texturally, traditional whole would would work but I think whole spelt has a much milder taste, which I prefer. When you eat the whole spelt crust without any topping or chocolate, you can tell it’s whole grain, which I’m not wild about. So if you have white whole wheat, use that! But even with spelt, once you add the coconut caramel topping and chocolate, I really doubt anyone could tell that you used whole grains.
I almost always use natural sweeteners in my recipes but I really wanted these to taste as close to the real Girl Scout Samoa cookies as possible. If you want to use raw sugar, I’m guessing it’d work but I haven’t tried it! And coconut sugar may work but I’m not sure.
For my grain-free friends, check out Carolyn’s grain-free Samoa bars. They’re low-carb and also have homemade caramel sauce! And stick around because I have a grain-free Samoa inspired recipe coming up next month. :) If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to bake from scratch, try these oatmeal magic cookie bars.
Totally from Scratch Samoa Bars (100% whole grain)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 16-20 bars
- 3/4 cup (169 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup (67 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups (219 grams) white whole wheat flour, whole spelt flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (120 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut (sweetened is fine if you like things on the sweet side)
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) packed dark brown sugar
- 2/3 cup (158 milliliters) whipping cream
- 7 tablespoons (98 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 7 pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (128 grams) + 1/4 cup (43 grams) semi-sweet chopped chocolate or chocolate chips1
For the cookie base:
For the coconut caramel topping:
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line an 8"x8" (20cmx20cm) pan with parchment paper.
- Prepare the crust. Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined and light and fluffy. Add the remaining cookie base ingredients and beat until well combined. It will be very dry and crumbly. Pat this onto the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges have just started to brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely while you prepare the coconut caramel.
- Place the coconut on a rimmed pan and with the oven still at 350 °F (175 °C), toast the coconut for 5-10 minutes, stirring after every few minutes. Keep a close eye on it as it turns from perfectly browned to burned in moments. Once lightly browned, remove from the oven.
- in a heavy bottom saucepan (not a non-stick pan!) over medium heat, mix together the caramel ingredients. Keep stirring until no chunks of butter remain and then simmer for 8 minutes. Do not stir during this time. If necessary, tilt the pan in order to redistribute the mixture. Remove the pan from the heat. The caramel will be quite thin at this point. Let cool for 20-30 minutes or until considerably thickened and you can just barely pour it. Stir in the toasted coconut and stir until combined.
- Spread this evenly over the cooled cookie base and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the caramel topping is firm. This refrigeration step may or may not be necessary. Cut into squares.
- Melt 3/4 cup (128 grams) chocolate in a small bowl that's large enough to dip the bars in. Dip each square in the melted chocolate and place on a piece of parchment paper. Once all the bars have been dipped, melt the remaining 1/4 cup (43 grams) chocolate and pipe over the top of the bars.
- Once the chocolate has set (it should only take about 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator or a few hours at room temperature), place the bars in a container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- Some crumbs of the cookie base got mixed in with the chocolate during the dipping, which I think would make piping the chocolate on top more difficult. If you prefer, you can just melt the full cup of chocolate all at once and drizzle the chocolate on top with a fork.
Caramel adapted from Chocolate Nut and Caramel Shortbread Tart
35 comments on “Totally from Scratch Samoa Bars” — Add one!
I am totally one of those people who unwrap the caramels…haha. It’s mostly because I have the worst luck with making caramel. You know how sometime you have a recipe nemesis? Mine is caramel…lol. However, you seem to have knocked this out of the park and I love that it’s 100% homemade and 100% whole grain. Delicious!
Mine is, too! But seriously, you can’t mess up this recipe! :)
Samoas have always been my favorite GS cookie. Love the fact that I can now make them myself thanks to your recipe. Pinning and making them ASAP.
Thanks so much! I hope you’ll love them as much as we did. And so sorry I just now found this comment in the spam folder. :(
Wishing I never saw your post, lol! I love the Samoas flavor SO much that I have not bought a box in YEARS b/c I will eat them all! I just may have to give these a whirl!
Haha. Good for you for not giving in! You could totally make these, though, to bring to a party or something. :D
These samoa bars look fantastic! Samoas are my favorite cookie, and these look so much better because they don’t have those additives, yum!
I am totally afraid of making caramel at home! I have had lots of failures! These bars look so good it makes me want to try again!
I had one hundred thousand failures before this one. I hope you’ll give it a try!
Hey, a little bit healthier is better than no healthier – so I’m totally down with using whole grains for these. I like that you used spelt (I just wish it wasn’t so pricey). These sound fantastic!
It stinks how expensive whole spelt is in the US! Such a bummer.
That’s so funny you used to bring those wrapped caramels to Germany. I think when you live away from home, you crave simple things you can’t find: like wrapped caramels! But, so true! All that unwrapping…so much easier (and tastier!!)to make this fabulous caramel for these bars!!
It’s so dumb when I look back on it but I definitely agree with you. :)
Samoas from scratch? Say what? These look amazing. I’m completely drooling.
Haha. That’s always a good sign! :)
I am obsessed with these! I always consider it my personal mission to find a from-scratch version of everything, but I’d never thought Samoas!
Yes! You should totally try them! :)
Oh my goodness Erin! You have done it again! My kids were begging just a few days ago for GS Samoas (I buy ONE box a year! lol) Cannot wait to get this recipe in the oven. Thank you!!
I am SO sorry I didn’t see your comment until now! I hope that you got a chance to try the bars and that you and your family enjoyed them as much as we did. :) Sorry again!
I love that you made these über healthy
These look like the real deal! I sure wish I could reach out and grab one(6)!
Haha. I wish I could, too, but I’m all out! ;)
I really love the 3 layers I can see in these bars. That shortbread looks perfect as does the homemade caramel sauce. I agree and avoid all processed store bought things like caramel. Love that you made this recipe beautifully but still simple enough!
Thanks so much, Brenda! Now if I could just make a GF version. :)
Samoas are the best!! I love this bar form – it’s like way more cookie per serving. And totally cool since there’s whole grains in them, right? ;)
But of course! ;)
These sound SO delicious, but they’re a little overshadowed by how hard I’m laughing at the fact you’re saving flour for an emergency! Let me know if you ever need rations sent over :-p
That’s sweet of you, thank you! :D
We don’t have these cookies in Australia but I do love caramel: especially home made. I normally make a double batch because I find myself licking the pot!! I think I’ll have to make these to get the cookie taste I’ve missed out on.
I hope you do give these a try! They’re pretty unique and special, I think. :)
Hear hear. I think the whole point of homemade versions of packaged baked goods is to avoid all the additives and stuff, so I so appreciate that you went to such lengths to make sure this was all natural and homemade, even down to the caramel! I’ve been jonesing so hard for samoas. I’m going to try replacing the whole wheat flour with oat or millet flour to make it GF. Fingers crossed!
I would love to hear how you make out gf also.
I totally agree. I’m so excited that you want to try it and I hope your GF version works! I’m guessing it’ll turn out crumbly, though. :( Good luck!