Copycat Samoa Girl Scout Cookies (Vegan, Paleo)
Move over Girl Scouts, there’s a new SAMOA in town. A clean paleo/vegan version, and it tastes pretty dang legit.
Who loves Girl Scout Cookies? Ok, basically everyone. My two favorite when I was a Girl Scout were Samoas and Thin Mints. Having a sensitivity to gluten, and now sugar — and everything else, I was determined last year to make my own when I had to pass up the annual office order. Plus, no offense to the Girl Scouts but those cookies are full of fillers, GMO ingredients, sugar, wax, and ingredients that just destroy your gut. Why eat those when you can make a clean version that taste identical to the original?! I still buy them though and give them away, just to support and donate to their troops.
Well, aren't these now called Caramel DeLites? I'm a 90s kid so they're still Samoas to me.
But I always make my own, and these bites of heaven are gluten free, paleo and dairy free. You would never believe it! When I first made them years ago, they became one of my most popular recipes. They taste so authentic and are a fun cookie building project. You can also make them in steps and refrigerate (ie: make the caramel in advance) if you don't want to make them in one day. I have had people tell me they’ve made them for their kids and they didn’t even know the difference! I've also made Thin Mints, I'll be sharing that recipe during Girl Scout Season as well.
If you love Girl Scout cookies but are on a restricted diet, or just love them but want a healthier, cleaner version, these gluten free Samoa cookies are the best gluten free dessert, paleo dessert, and safe on a low fodmap diet!
What is a Samoa Cookie?
A shortbread cookie base in the shape of a ring, dipped in dark chocolate. Layered on top is a coconut covered in caramel, drizzled with more dark chocolate. If you love caramel, coconut and chocolate, you will LOVE these cookies.
These Copycat Samoa Cookies are vegan, paleo, FODMAP friendly AND taste just like a real Samoa Cookie!
I'm not joking, they taste so similar to the real thing without all the refined sugars and junky ingredients! They are naturally vegan (no egg subs needed), paleo, refined sugar free and FODMAP friendly! I try not to use honey or other higher FODMAP ingredients in my baking because I'm very sensitive to it.
Are Paleo Samoa Cookies easy to make?
These cookies are made in steps. First the caramel sauce. You let that simmer while you make the cookie base and melt the chocolate. When the cookies are cut and cooled, you dip the bottoms in chocolate. When the caramel has finished cooking, the coconut shreds get mixed in to make the second layer. That is spooned on top and finally drizzled with extra chocolate. They are easy to make but require a few steps. But they are SO worth it.
Tips for making the caramel layer:
I suggest simmering the coconut milk and coconut sugar for 40 minutes. It's low maintenance, you can let it simmer while you prep the cookies, only stirring every few minutes. You can ultimately remove it from the stove sooner, but if it's too liquidy it may not hold the best shape in the cookie. If that's the case, mix in extra coconut shreds to absorb some more of the liquid. Or keep the caramel mixture in the fridge to set before spooning on top the cookies. If it's still a bit loose, these can be stored in the fridge or freezer and will keep their shape and still taste amazing! I've made these several times, as had others and the caramel mix has always worked out perfectly.
What baking tools do I need for the Paleo Samoa Cookies?
Ring-shaped cookie cutter OR get creative and use a drinking glass for the outer rim and a bottle cap to cut out the middles
How to store the Vegan Samoa Cookies :
The vegan Samoa cookies store best in the fridge, especially if the caramel layer is a bit soft. Store on a vented dish or an airtight container, with parchment or wax paper separating them so they don't stick together. They also store in the freezer for up to 6 months. I personally like to eat them right out the freezer!
What you’ll need for these Vegan Samoa Cookies:
Almond Flour: The main flour for these cookies. It’s the most neutral baking flour and my paleo flour of choice.
Coconut Flour: This absorbs the moisture of the almond flour
Coconut Oil: A healthy fat helps add to a crunch to the cookie
Maple Syrup or Coconut Nectar: You have to use a liquid sweetener here, I recommend these two. Coconut nectar has a lower glycemic index.
Vanilla Extract: Adds a nice flavor to the cookie and to the caramel sauce
Sea Salt: Balances out sweetness in recipes
Coconut Milk: The milk base to the homemade paleo caramel sauce Coconut Sugar: The sugar in the paleo caramel sauce. As you've noticed by now, it's my go to for baking and cooking. It does not spike your blood sugar levels or feed Candida and other pathogens the way other sugars would!
Shredded Coconut: The hero of this cookie! I recommended shredded over flaked
Dark Chocolate Chips/Bar: The bottom dip of your cookie and the drizzle on top. AKA the icing on the cake.
Paleo Shortbread Cookies:
1 3/4 cups almond flour
4 tbsp coconut flour
1/3 cup coconut oil melted & cooled
4 tbsp maple syrup or coconut nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt
Caramel Coconut Layer:
1 can full fat coconut milk, I use 365 Whole Foods Brand
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1 1/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp coconut oil
1 cup melted dark choc chips/bar
Make the caramel:
You'll want to start making the caramel first so it will simmer while you make and dip the cookies. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut milk and the coconut sugar. Once it becomes a boil, turn down to a lower heat so it’s simmering and bubbling. Keep an eye on it, it will boil up and over quickly! Stir every 5 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides. It’ll take about 30-40 minutes to caramelize: turn a darker golden brown, become thicker, coat the back of a spoon, and leave spoon trails when stirred.
Once it becomes a caramel sauce, take the pan off heat and mix in vanilla and salt. Set aside for later.
Make the Cookie Base:
While the caramel is simmering, preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, add together the cookie ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt. Mix with your hands, or stand mixer, until a dough forms. Form a ball with the dough.
Let this dough ball sit for 2-3 mins. The coconut flour will absorb some moisture. If it still feels too sticky to roll out, put it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Now roll dough out on a flat surface (between parchment paper is best) to about 1/4” thick.
Cut out the ring shapes. You can use cookie cutters like these, but I've used a drinking glass as my cutter and water bottle cap to cut the insides out. The outer circle should be about 2"or so. You want to make little rings. Roll and repeat until all dough is used. Transfer circles to the baking sheet.
Bake 10-12 min until edges are just brown. Let cool completely.
Once cooled, melt the chocolate chips or chocolate bar together with the coconut oil in a small shallow bowl. Dip ONLY the bottoms of cookies, shake off excess chocolate. Lay back on the lined baking sheet. Put in fridge for 10 minutes to set.
Finish coconut caramel mixture and assemble:
Add shredded coconut flakes to a small frying pan and stir until brown, about 5 minutes on medium heat. Be sure to constantly stir, they burn fast. Then transfer the toasted flakes to a bowl so they don't continue to cook.
When the caramel is ready, stir in the shredded coconut flakes. These will absorb the caramel and make a gooey mix. It should be thick and not runny. If you feel it will be too runny to hold shape on top of the cookie, add more coconut flakes to the mixture, or place in fridge to cool completely.
Using a spoon, add a layer of coconut caramel mixture on top of each cookie ring. It’s about 1 tbsp per cookie ring, but they should look like little donuts when you are finished.
Drizzle rest of chocolate over each cookie. Put cookies back in the fridge to firm up for about 10 minutes.
Store the cookies in fridge or freezer, especially if the caramel layer is a bit soft. Store on a vented dish or an airtight container, with parchment or wax paper separating them so they don't stick together. They also store in the freezer for up to 6 months. I personally like to eat them right out the freezer! Get ready to be addicted!
Some coconut milks may need more time to caramelize than others. I use 365 Whole Foods brand and my caramel sets up perfectly at 35-40 minutes. If the caramel seems too thin, keep simmering on a low boil until thickened.
I recommend using shredded coconut over coconut flakes. This will give your cookies a better coconut flavor, and more authentic to the real thing. And they won't be as chunky.
If you feel you don't want to multitask and make the caramel at the same time as you're making the cookies, make the cookies first and start the caramel after. I just like to do it all at once baking show style!
Slowly build your caramel layer over each cookie. It can take a bit of time but I’d start with 1 tbsp of caramel mixture and add more as needed.
You can substitute the coconut sugar in the caramel mixture for maple syrup.
Let me know in the comments below if you make these Girl Scout Samoa Cookies! I guarantee you’ll want SA-MOA!