The Girl Scout Cookie Challenge

I dreamed up this challenge for myself the day I ordered a box of Samoas from a lady at work (no, not a girl scout, a lady). I used to not like them much – I preferred the Peanut Butter Patties (Tagalongs depending on where you are from) but as I’ve gotten older I have grown to love the coconut cookies and I bake with coconut more often.
The Challenge was to try and recreate the Samoa (based on a recipe I found online) and then do a side by side taste test to see how mine compared. I asked a few people to contribute their comments after taking the challenge. Here are the results:

Cookie test SAM-0309

I’m not a big cookie fan, but when I find a cookie I like I will eat it in large quantities. So is the case with the samoa – maybe it has something to do with it’s unavailability most of the year – but I love them and will eat an entire box over the course of a couple hours. So this cookie taste test is very important to me and I congratulate Christina on undertaking such a complex and delicious dessert.

Samoa: coconut explosion, crunchy cookie, sweet chocolate not too overpowering – mostly taste caramel and coconut.

C-amoa: Delicious rich dark chocolate is the first taste, a buttery crumbly cookie center and a thicker, softer bed of caramel and coconut on top. Christina’s cookie is totally delicious but doesn’t not have the coconut explosion of the Samoa. The third C-amoa I tried has proven that this cookie has also grown on me and I want to eat large quantities – something I didn’t think at first. To make the C-amoa taste more like the Samoa, I would use semi-sweet choco, and less of it – more coconut extract in the cookie and in the caramel. Caramel mixture could be thinned and the cookie could be crunchier. However, this C-amoa is it’s own cookie and doesn’t need to become a Samoa to taste good or be addictive.


i tested your cookie first and first noticed the different chocolaty taste when you then explained it was dark chocolate. it made me realize it was a less processed cookie then the ever so sweet girl scout cookie. so i’m thinking im not a fan of dark chocolate because seriously chocolate isnt really chocolate without all the sugary goodness but i thoroughly enjoyed the not so sweet factor of your overall cookie. the minute i ate the girl scout cookie, my stomach did a little summersault because it was even sweeter compared to what i remembered especially after eating your less sweet cookie. i feel like i could eat more servings of your cookie in one sitting versus me being sick to my stomach after eating just one girl scout version. i think i like the chewy consistency of the GSC and your cookie was more flaky/cookie like and less of a caramel gooeyness. but i like your cookie appearance versus the GSC, there’s too much coconut-ty flakes on the GSC version and i liked your melted bottom. hmm and i think that’s my first impressions.
now my tummy feels all sicky poo from eating that second cookie, the GSC cookie is really too sweet. i have a request for a semi sweet chocolate version of your cookie =). not so dark. =P

So here’s the comparison. The original is crunchier and the coconut taste is much stronger. All I can really taste is “caramely” coconut and the crunchy texture, and it all hits me at once.Yours is softer and I can taste more of the cookie itself, less of the coconut and caramel. The experience is gradual – I taste the cookie dough first, then the chocolate, and then there are distant coconut and caramel flavors, but they are not very strong. These two are somewhat different cookies. Personally – and I am probably cutting myself off your supply of yumminess as I say this – I like the original girl scouts cookie…

Some thoughts about making the cookies….
Starting with a sugar cookie base I cut out O shapes and baked until barely golden. After they cooled, I mixed caramel with toasted coconut, spread it on the tops, and let it set. Then I melted some dark chocolate and dipped the bottoms of each cookie into the chocolate and piped the rest of the chocolate in strips on top. This whole process (including waiting time) took about 4 hours, which is a really long time to make 3 1/2 dozen cookies.
They turned out really pretty, and although they don’t taste much like the Girl Scout Samoa, I think they are tasty cookies. In order to make them taste more similar, they need to be more coconut-y which I could solve by adding coconut extract to the cookie dough instead of vanilla and adding a little to the toasted coconut-caramel mixture. Also, based on the reviews the cookie is a little too buttery – so I would reduce the amount of butter and make them a bit crispier. I would also advise making your own caramel sauce. I cheated and used the store bought caramel squares (because they have been taking up space in my baking cabinet for too long). And finally using a mixture of dark and semi-sweet chocolate.

I also believe strongly that the processed food ingredients help give the Samoa a weirdly distinct flavor. Maybe it is the TBHQ or the hydrogenated palm kernel oil that make these cookies unique and irreproducible — or maybe it’s because I don’t have an army of girl scouts working for me…. Except for the corn syrup I know resides in those caramel squares, my cookies are a little more whole, maybe even healthy if you use the term loosely, and I may give them another try in the near future. Until then, I will (with the help of my husband) will finish off the rest of the Samoas with a little guilt.

Just in case you were wondering about the extra processed flavoring ingredients…(directly from the Little Brownie Bakers website)

INGREDIENTS: Sugar, vegetable oil (palm, partially hydrogenated palm kernel, soybean and/or
cottonseed with TBHQ to preserve freshness), enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron,
thiamin mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid), corn syrup, coconut, sweetened condensed milk (condensed milk, sugar), sorbitol, contains two percent or less of cocoa, glycerin, invert sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, cornstarch, salt, caramelized sugar, dextrose, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, carrageenan, leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate).

Also, since this recipe is not from any published source I decided to share it here so you can take the Challenge yourself . I’d love to hear your results!


Homemade Samoas

1 cup butter, soft (recommend using less butter)

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or coconut extract)

up to 2 tbsp milk (or coconut milk if you have it)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.Roll the dough out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Alternatively, use scant tablespoons of dough and press into an even layer in a mini donut pan to form the rounds.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set. If using a mini donut pan, bake for only about 10 minutes, until edges are light gold.Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

12-oz good-quality chewy caramels (or about 1 1/2 – 2 cups home made caramel)

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp milk (coconut milk would be better)

8 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (a mixture of dark and semi-sweet chips would be great)

Preheat oven to 300. 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.

Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

2 thoughts on “The Girl Scout Cookie Challenge

  1. Thanks Jen! I would really recommend attempting to change it around a little – especially substituting coconut extract for vanilla. I’m also not sure how it would work – but using coconut milk in the cookie and caramel would be great!

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