Wednesday, February 27, 2013

samoa cookie bars

As promised... samoa bars!

But first, I thought I'd share a day in the life of group messages between my mom, Steph, Hannah, and me:

my mother, the home remodeler, on puppies.
hannah, the pilot, on how she feels about school.
evidently, the "flying nun" is an old tv show.
And that's only one day, mind you.

I am not sure how we would survived prior to this whole group messaging feature on our phones:   our previous days spent apart must've been very dull indeed.

Our days together, of course, are just as entertaining, as I frequently write about after we all "get together" over the weekends (except for Steph because she lives down in Nashville).

This past weekend, we got together and I made these Samoa cookie bars.  I took two recipes I've been eyeing for a while--one about Samoa bars and the other just for regular Samoa cookies--and I hybridized them a little bit (and bumped up the salt and vanilla for that matter; I like salty-sweet things).

These turned out so well!  So well, in fact, that several of them disappeared before I even got the chance to let the chocolate harden in the freezer...

I went with the bar version of the cookie because I have zero patience for cutting out, scooping, or otherwise decorating cookies.  Also, I did not have a circular cookie cutter.  Still, given the choice, I'd always rather make a big dish of something and share it amongst a crowd than make individual servings and have to do the same thing ten times in a row.

Anyway, regardless of my preferences, I don't think you will miss the circle style of the cookies one bit because these are excellent.  And not too difficult, either! : )

Adapted from Just A Taste and Crepes of Wrath

for the cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for coconut topping
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 {14-ounce} bag store-bought caramels, unwrapped (I used Kraft brand)
3 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
for the chocolate drizzle
about 18 ounces milk chocolate (Alternatively, use chocolate of choice:  traditionally, Samoas use dark chocolate.  I used about one-and-a-half bags of Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips, though, because I prefer milk chocolate.)


  1. Prepare a glass 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish by lining it with aluminium foil and then greasing the aluminium foil.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Mix in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract.
  4. Mix in the flour, alternating with the milk.
  5. When a sticky dough has formed, spread it into your prepared 9-by-13 pan.  To make this easy, I used an offset spatula and sprayed it with nonstick cooking spray.  You could use this trick with a knife, too.
  6. Bake the cookie at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until the cookie looks golden brown around the edges and looks "set" in the middle.
  7. Turn down the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.  Spread the sweetened coconut on a rimmed baking dish lined with parchment paper or a silpat, and bake the coconut for about 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes.  Be especially vigilant at the end, as it is easy to burn the coconut!
  8. Let the cookie cool complete, then remove from the pan.  Leave the cookie on the aluminium foil.
  9. Prepare the coconut-caramel topping by melting the caramels over low heat with the milk and Kosher salt in a medium sized saucepan.  When the caramel-milk mixture is smooth, mix in the toasted coconut.
  10. Spread the coconut-caramel topping over the shortbread cookie that is still on the aluminium foil.  Again, you can make this easier by using an offset spatula sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  11. When the coconut-caramel mixture has cooled, chop the cookie into large sized bars.
  12. For the final step, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (see package of chocolate for microwave melting instructions.  Normally, you can just heat it in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until melted).
  13. When the chocolate is melted, take each bar and dip the bottom in the chocolate.  After dipping them, set them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.  Next, drizzle the chocolate over the top of each bar.  You can drizzle the chocolate over it using a spoon or fork (this is what I did, but it won't look as neat and tidy as the other option), or you can fill a giant plastic bag with the melted chocolate, cut a tiny hole in it, and then drizzle the chocolate nice and neatly over the cookies (I didn't even have any plastic bags in the house...).
  14. When you've dipped and drizzled each bar, set the tray in the freezer to shock the chocolate into hardening.  Let the chocolate harden in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.  When the chocolate has hardened, you can remove the bars from the freezer and store them at room temperature in an airtight container.


  1. Dr. Gina...I am going to make these this evening and will provide a report of my results. Now I need to "whisk away" to the store. :-)

    1. oh i'm so excited you're making them! they're so good! let me know how they go! i miss working with you! hope that sister of mine isn't giving you too much trouble... ; )