DIY Girl Scout Caramel deLites
Chances are high that, at one point or another, you’ve posted up in front of a supermarket or gone door to door slinging Girl Scout cookies. Chances are even higher that you’ve bought armfuls of boxes from the neighborhood Brownie to hoard in your pantry — or your freezer, if you’re doing it right — in the hopes that they’ll last all year.
Spoiler alert: they won’t. But, when you do run out, there’s always this spot-on copycat recipe for Caramel deLites (a.k.a. Samoas, depending on which bakery your local troop gets its cookies from).
You don’t need much in the way of baking chops for this recipe; the steps are pretty simple. What you do need is a good podcast, a couple cups of coffee, and an adventurous spirit — it’s a long, relaxing baking project perfect for those Saturday afternoons when you need to turn your brain off. This recipe takes about three hours from start to finish, but you can also split the work between two days by making the cookie dough and caramel ahead of time. Whichever route you take, it’s well worth the time commitment: the resulting DIY deLites taste just like the real thing or (dare we say it?) even better.
As you may know, there are three components to a Caramel deLite: shortbread, toasted coconut caramel, and dark chocolate. When developing this recipe, we wanted a shortbread that would come together quickly and be easy to roll out and cut into little donut shapes. And, we also wanted a shortbread that tasted wonderful all on its own — this one definitely does. It’s super buttery and practically melts in your mouth. (In fact, we definitely recommend sneaking one before you wrap up the project. Baker’s rights!)
For the coconut caramel, we started with the recipe for our salted caramel sauce, stirred in toasted coconut and a little coconut extract, and then poured it onto a baking sheet to chill before cutting it into donuts. One tip: You’ll want to spread the caramel nice and thin across the baking sheet. Not only does it ensure a perfect caramel-to-cookie ratio, but it also serves a practical purpose. The toasted coconut will rise to the top, and the excess caramel will sink to the bottom, creating a sticky underlayer that easily adheres to the shortbread cookies. Neat, huh?
By the time you dunk and drizzle the cookie in dark chocolate, it has everything you love about the real deal. There’s the toasty crunch of the coconut, the gooey pull of the caramel, the gentle snap of the shortbread — and the smooth bitterness of the dark chocolate, which tames the overall sweetness of the cookie. If you want to throw caution to the wind and eat the whole lot of ‘em at once, we say go for it. But we also recommend crumbling them over some vanilla ice cream or dunking them in a shot of espresso. However you decide to indulge, you’ll have earned it — right along with your DIY cookie-making badge.
Our tip: Don’t toss the scraps after cutting the shortbread and coconut caramel into donuts. The shortbread scraps can be re-rolled and made into more cookies, the caramel leftovers can be melted down and drizzled over ice cream … or you could just eat them, because yum!
For the shortbread cookie dough:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp kosher salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
1 egg white, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the coconut caramel:
3 cups loosely packed, sweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ cups salted caramel, warm
¼ tsp coconut extract
For the chocolate coating:
18 oz semisweet chocolate chips
To make the shortbread cookie dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg white and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface and, using your hands, gently form the dough into a square.
Place a second sheet of parchment paper on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to ¼” thick. Transfer the dough, with the parchment, to a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
To make the coconut caramel: Preheat the oven to 325° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the coconut in an even layer on the sheet and bake until golden brown, tossing halfway through, about 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer the coconut to a large bowl to cool. Reserve the parchment paper and baking sheet.
Make the salted caramel and stir in the coconut extract when you remove the pan from the heat.
Immediately pour the caramel over the toasted coconut and stir until evenly mixed.
Transfer the coconut caramel to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, spread the caramel in an even layer, about ⅛” thick. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.
To make the caramel deLites: When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the dough from the freezer and transfer it, along with the parchment, to a flat surface. Remove the top layer of parchment and place it back on the baking sheet.
Cut out the cookies using a 2” round cookie cutter. Using a small knife or a round pastry tip, cut a hole in the middle of each cookie so they look like little donuts. Transfer the cookie rings to the baking sheet.
Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Let them cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Remove the coconut caramel from the refrigerator and transfer it, along with the parchment, to a flat surface. Place a new sheet of parchment paper on the baking sheet.
Using the same cookie cutter and pastry tip, cut the coconut caramel into little donuts. Place the coconut caramel rings on top of the shortbread, pressing gently to adhere.
To coat the caramel deLites in chocolate: Temper the chocolate and immediately transfer it to a piping bag or gallon ziplock bag. Cut off the tip of the bag to create a ¼” hole.
Working quickly, turn a cookie over in your hand and swirl a generous amount of chocolate on the bottom. Place the cookie on the baking sheet, pressing down so the chocolate coats the bottom of the cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
Drizzle the remaining chocolate back and forth across the sheet of cookies to create lines on top of the coconut caramel.
Transfer the cookies to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set, then serve. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days or wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months.