Samoa Girl Scout Cookies: Dairy-Free & Vegan!

Posted by on March 15, 2011 | 54 Comments

You asked, and I am here to deliver. Truth be told, I was really hoping there would be more votes for the Tagalongs or Peanut Butter Patties. But when I posted my Dairy-Free Thin Mint recipe, and asked what other Girl Scout cookies you would like to see a recipe for, the response for Samoas (or Caramel deLites) was overwhelming.

So do they taste like authentic Samoa cookies? Um, well, I couldn’t tell you … I’ve never actually had a Girl Scout Caramel deLite cookie. But, I can tell you that they taste really darn good.

Since I’d never tried a Samoa, I needed a recipe model to work from. However, I was surprised how few recipes I found for this cookie, and how so many of them weren’t true to form. I found bar versions that didn’t even have a chocolate base (how could I deny you of an extra chocolate layer?), I found recipes that were void of the shortbread base (true, I would have been happy without the shortbread, but I know how you all love it), and in Vegan Cookies, she skips the caramel topping altogether (a bit sacrilegious don’t you think?).

I did my best to stay loyal to the original cookie, but of course had to change up the recipe a bit to make it dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan. Okay, okay, I skipped the hole in the middle too. I mean, that’s a little nit-picky don’t you think? And you get more per cookie with my simple round version. If you must, use a straw or some other small circular instrument and painstakingly remove a hole from the center of the fragile shortbread dough. But when you start cursing like a sailor, just remember my voice telling you “I told you so” in a really annoying way.

Oh, and a final quick note. Something compelled me to move these cookies from the counter to the fridge for storage and I was glad I did. They will keep fine on the counter, but are awesome chilled. The shortbread cookie gets a nice light crisp and the chocolate stays firm and cool. Don’t worry, the caramel topping is still soft and shouldn’t threaten to dislodge any teeth.



Dairy-Free Samoa-ish Cookies (a.k.a. Caramel deLites)

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and I suppose you could make it Gluten-Free by using your favorite GF flour blend in place of the plain flour.

Shortbread Cookies (Adapted from Baking Bites)

  • 1/2 Cup Dairy-Free Margarine (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free)
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk Alternative (I just used a little of the coconut milk that I had opened for the caramel topping, but use whichever plain or vanilla milk alternative that you like)
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 to 1-1/4 Cups Flour
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt

In a mixing bowl, beat together the margarine, milk alternative, sugar, and vanilla, until creamy. Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder, and the salt, and mix until well combined. Add in up to 1/4 cup of additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Roll or pat the dough out on a floured surface until it is 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Using a 1-1/4-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut the cookies out and move to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. I actually (gently) cut the cookie dough right on my silicon baking mat, since the cookie dough can be hard to move.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they just begin to brown around the edges. Let cool while you prepare the caramel topping.

Caramel-Coconut Topping (Adapted from the Dulce de Coco recipe in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook)

  • 1 Cup Regular Canned Coconut Milk (I use the full-fat version, not light)
  • 2/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 Cups Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (or use sweetened coconut if you prefer a more sugary treat)

Combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer or low boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Keep an eye to be sure it doesn’t threaten to boil over. Uncover and continue to let it slowly boil / simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should become somewhat thick, like a caramel sauce … but keep in mind, it will thicken more as it cools and when you add all of that coconut!

Remove the caramel mixture from the heat, and stir in the vanilla, followed by the coconut. I used all of the coconut, which made it very thick, and almost dough-like to handle.

Samoa Assembly

  • 1 Cup Dairy-Free, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips(I used Dream Chocolate Chips – these do contain soy lecithin, use Enjoy Life brand if lecithin is a problem for you)
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil (optional)

Top each shortbread cookie with the caramel-coconut mixture. I use it all up, making a fairly thick layer of topping. My topping was thick, so I wet my hands (to prevent sticking) and pressed it down to evenly cover the tops of the shortbread.

Melt the chocolate chips with the coconut oil, if using. I place them in a bowl and put them in the microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir vigorously until smooth. You may need more or less time in the microwave … just make sure you do not overheat the chocolate … it burns easily.

Dip the shortbread bases in the chocolate. You can either coat just the bottoms, or submerge up to the caramel layer. I tried both (each pictured above). Place them chocolate side down on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to firm up. Then, somehow drizzle the tops of the cookies (over the caramel layer) with chocolate. I’ve read that you can do this with a fork … but that didn’t work for me. For the pretties results, piping the chocolate on would work best. I just sort of drizzled it on.

Let the cookies sit in a cool area so that the chocolate can set up. Usually this will happen at room temperature, but my husband had our heat set on “melt chocolate” that day (15 degrees outside, well over 70 degrees inside), so I placed them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

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I submitted this recipe / post to Allergy Friendly Friday by Cybele Pascal


Filed Under: Alisa's Recipes

Comments (54)


  1. Nowheymama says:

    Fun! These are Scott’s favorite.

  2. Evan Thomas says:

    These look delicious! The real things are amazing but I bet these are even better.

  3. These used to be one of my favorites! The tagalongs being the best! Oh and the peanut butter sandwich ones…oh good grief, I loved them all. These look perfect!

    • alisa says:

      I definitely need to try making the tagalongs! I forgot to mention too, like GF, these are even better when stored in the fridge (I think) – the cookie gets light and crispy! I’ll add that now …

  4. Katie says:

    I have no words. I’ve been trying to think of something witty, but all I can do is stare at the cookies.

    I’d make these, but honestly, I’m too lazy. And I wholeheartedly agree with the lack of a hole. I wonder if you could just roll the dough into a log and slice it? I HATE rolling out dough. That’s me being lazy, right there.

    • alisa says:

      Honestly, I always forget about the roll and slice method and have thus never done it. I will have to try it, but am sure it would work for these no problem.

  5. Michelle says:

    Must try these soon, too! Still have yet to make your Thin Mint recipe too, Alisa! (I was a Thin Mint Junkie back when I could tolerate a bit of dairy, when younger).

  6. Those look incredible, Alisa!!! I am soooo impressed with you, my dear. 🙂 Bet these would be easy to make gluten free, too. 😉


  7. I definitely don’t want any teeth dislodged. =)

    These actually look pretty close to the originals and I agree, I don’t care about the hole in the middle. I’m with Shirley, these will be easy to make gluten-free. I must say, Samoas were my favorite Girl Scout cookies EVER. Haven’t had one for a decade. This recipe of yours is on my list to tweak and try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Wow you have been busy. Those were hubby’s favs. I hope one of these gf gals gets busy and shares the gf way for this non baker. I would totally make these for him. I might even try one myself! Yum

  9. This look like a terrific version of samoas, they are our favorites!

  10. Kiersten says:

    I’m willing to bet that those are a million times better than the real ones

  11. Hannah says:

    I may never have had a girl scout cookie, but man oh man. These look incredible.

  12. Samoa shmoa…those are Caramel DeLites baby!! Seriously, is my age showing? 😀

    Those really do look amazing Alisa and I agree with Shirley, they would be easy peasy to make gluten-free, yummy!

  13. So.Many.Emotions. I love you. I hate you. I NEED THESE. And I love you again. I’m making these as soon as I can… tackling the gluten free-ness recipe! These look amazing.

  14. Alta says:

    These are my favorite. I could make them gluten-free pretty easily, methinks. Which is dangerous. Dangerous indeed.

  15. Lexie says:

    Wowzie! These are gorgeous!

  16. Shannon says:

    aah, i totally tried to make these last weekend (or was that two weekends ago now?)! but my shortbread was too thick and caramel-coconut too thin. must. try. these. asap. 🙂

  17. Wow, Alisa, Wow. I am So excited you re-created one of my favorites! I avoid these because they have high fructose corn syrup amongst other nasty things for your body. You’re a rock star!! Bookmarking!

  18. Cayti Burch says:

    It’s ten o’clock at night, here, and I have to be at work early to do inspections, and I’m seriously wondering if I really need to get 6 hours of sleep tonight…..I could make these and totally be okay on 4….and I think I have everything in the pantry too…..wait, nope, I’m going to have to stop and get the choco chips on the way home tomorrow and do whatever it takes to make these asap! :oD (There’s not a key with a big enough grin for how happy this makes me!!!) Thank you!!!!

    • alisa says:

      How can you be out of chocolate chips!?! Okay, that’s a concern for another day … just get baking! 🙂

      Hope you got some good sleep … more than 6 hours!

  19. I’m willing to bet that these are the most amazing cookies I would ever put in my mouth. They look even more amazing than the original… and I used to LOVE the original!

  20. You are unbelievable! While my hubby has always been the avid Thin Mint fan, these have ALWAYS been my weakness. I am so going to make these for the weekend. And I love the vegan caramel.
    And yay! So glad you get that cookies with chocolate are just plain better when they are cold!!

    • alisa says:

      Seriously, how can people not understand this? Chocolate should be chilled to get the full flavor experience. Ooey gooey chocolate just tastes different and melts in rather than asserting itself. But I could dedicate a whole post to the benefit of chilled chocolate and cookies 🙂

  21. Maggie says:

    You’re just mean Alisa! I am craving chocolate and these babies are TOTALLY calling my name. Oh my goodness. Caramel, chocolate, shortbread, what more do I need?

  22. Iris says:

    Those look so beautiful! I am instantly in love with them!

  23. THese look better than the traditional! Kudos, Alisa! Can’t wait to try them.

  24. ps, thanks for sharing the link @ Allergy Friendly Friday!


  25. Stephanie says:

    UM, hello… YUM! These look heavenly!

  26. Kim Lutz says:


    You did it again! I’m looking forward to the crummy weather coming our way so that I have a great excuse to bake these up!

  27. hsw says:

    These are gorgeous! We are still avoiding coconut but I do miss it, the photos make me almost able to taste these in my memory. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, I found you via Allergy Friendly Friday.

    • alisa says:

      Oh, what a bummer! I do love coconut – not a food I would want to cut out. Hmm, now I’m wondering what would sub well for coconut.

      • Joe K says:

        How about a frosted shredded wheat cereal? maybe chop it up and add to the caramel? Just a thought, I feel like the shredded wheat will provide the texture, look, and slight crunch. Also if there is not problem with nuts, some finely chopped almonds would be pretty tasty.

  28. melissa smith says:

    I’m going to make these tonight with Cybele Pascal’s GF flour mix and a touch of xanthum gum. Hope it all works out! They look incredible.

  29. […] healthy Girl Scout cookies. My favorite kind. Compliments of amazing […]

  30. IN LOVE! I must make these at once. This would be awesome to bring to a cookie exchange this Christmas!

    Thanks for sharing!

  31. […] Anyway, I did a little research and found a completely Vegan recipe for a Samoa Caramel deLite from Alisa Cooks!  I’m hitting the grocery store tomorrow afternoon and testing this recipe […]

  32. Rachelle says:

    Did you bake the shortbread at 350? Am I missing that in your recipe somewhere? They look delicious- can’t wait to try them!!!

  33. Joe K says:

    What a great one Alisa! Once you get a sort of assembly line going they don’t take too long to make. I think next time I will double or triple the recipe and make a bunch, people eat them like crazy.

    I also tried rolling the dough slightly thinner and cutting a wider cookie with the hole cut out of the center and they looked like perfect copies, but putting the coconut topping on becomes a huge task when you do this, not really worth it in my opinion.

  34. Shelly says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing this recipe! I am addicted to baked goods, but cannot eat dairy, eggs, or nuts because of my son’s allergies.

    I just made these today for Easter and they are almost gone already! My whole family LOVES them. I had to cook them way longer because I am at a higher altitude, but everything else was perfect.

    I hope you don’t mind I pinned this recipe and shared you site on my blog.

    Thanks again!

    • alisa says:

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe Shelly – and great to know that they work at high altitude! I always find cookies fussy when baking in the mountains.

      I’m honored! No problems at all 🙂

  35. Nikita says:

    Thank you! =) Finally a vegan recipe my big sister approves of. Nothing quite like the bonding over baked goods.

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