Yield: 8″ pan samoa cookie bars a.k.a carmelitas // Total Time: 1 hr. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
Soft and chewy coconut oatmeal cookie bars stuffed with dark chocolate and homemade caramel sauce!
Homemade Samoa Cookie Bars
Is there even another top contender for the best flavor combination? I mean, samoa cookies have it all figured out (and they’re the best girl scout cookie!) Chocolate, caramel, and coconut are all a perfect match for each other. Whenever I make these I like to make a double batch and store the excess in the freezer, they’re SO good. But let me tell you exactly what these are. It starts with a super soft oatmeal cookie dough that gets some toasted coconut added in. We partially bake most of that cookie dough in a square pan, then load it with a generous amount of dark chocolate and homemade salted caramel sauce. Top that off with chunks of the remaining coconut oatmeal cookie dough and bake. What you’re left with is pure dessert perfection! Another name for these delicious bars are carmelitas.
What are carmelitas?
Carmelitas are a more common way to describe these bars, but I’ve also found that not many people have heard of them! Carmelitas are essentially two layers of oatmeal cookie dough that are filled with a very very generous amount of caramel sauce and chocolate. I mean…it’s dessert perfection if you ask me. If you’ve ever had a dream bar from Potbelly, these are essentially what those are.
weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. I do provide cup measurements but please note that I test all my recipes in grams and can not guarantee that your bake will turn out like mine. This kitchen scale is super cheap and a great starter scale!
use Room temperature ingredients
It’s almost always important to use ingredients that are at room temperature so that they all incorporate nicely with one another. In this case, all you’ll need is one egg at room temperature – which you can do pretty fast by just running it under hot water for one minute.
Line your pan with parchment paper
The caramel likes to ooze out of the bars which can make them difficult to release from the pan. Using parchment to line your pan gives you the ability to pick the bars up out of the pan so you don’t have to worry about cutting them in the pan.
Let the carmelitas chill
Annoying, I know! But very necessary. You’re going to need to set the carmelitas to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, up to overnight. If you try to cut the carmelitas before they have fully cooled and set, you’re going to have caramel and chocolate everywhere. I know that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but, I still recommend waiting for the best results.
Ingredients and substitutions
All purpose flour: for structure and chewiness. I haven’t tried it but a 1:1 swap gluten free flour should work perfectly here.
Rolled oats: I recommend rolled oats for the best texture.
Baking soda & baking powder: for helping the dough rise.
Salt: to balance and bring out the sweetness of the carmelitas. Never skip on the salt!
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing and giving the carmelitas a classic buttery taste. You can substitute in salted butter, just be sure to remove the extra salt from the dough.
Light brown sugar & granulated sugar: a mixture of both helps to both give moisture and flavor, while locking in moisture and keeping the dough soft as well.
Egg: for adding moisture and binding the dough together.
Vanilla: for flavoring.
Dark chocolate chips: for the filling. I recommend using dark chocolate as it provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the caramel and the dough. Feel free to use semi sweet or milk chocolate in it’s place if you prefer something a bit sweeter.
Salted caramel sauce: you can use store-bought caramel sauce and add a pinch of salt to it, or you can make my delicious and easy 15 minute salted caramel sauce!
Sweetened coconut flakes: the star that takes delicious chocolate and caramel into samoa flavor!
How to make carmelitas
Prep work: make the salted caramel sauce and toast the coconut
You certainly can use store-bought caramel sauce – but you can also make my easy 15 minute salted caramel sauce. You’ll also want to toast the coconut for some extra flavor goodness in the dough.
Whisk the wet ingredients
Whisk together your melted butter and both sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla.
Add in the dry ingredients
Add in all your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats, and toasted coconut). Use a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together just until no flour streaks remain.
Bake the bars in layers
Pat ~3/4 of the cookie dough down into a lined 8″ square pan and bake until the edges turn golden brown (15-20 min.) Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate in an even layer on top of the dough, followed by the caramel. Break off pieces of cookie dough from the remaining dough and scatter them on top of the caramel. You won’t have enough to cover the top but that’s fine! It gives the top a nice look with caramel peeking through when they’re done baking. Bake until the cookie dough turns golden brown (~20 min.)
Chill the bars
Annoying, but unfortunately necessary! If you cut into these bars too soon you will have a hot melted caramel mess on your hands. Let the bars chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge before slicing, then enjoy!
Samoa cookie bars q&a
How to make salted caramel sauce
I recommend making my super easy and delicious 15 minute salted caramel sauce. You can even make it up to one week in advance and store it in the fridge! If you are looking for something more quick, you can use a thick store-bought caramel sauce and add salt to taste.
Can these carmelitas be made ahead of time?
Definitely! Honestly, these only get better with time. Feel free to make these the night before and store them in the fridge until ready to serve.
How to store carmelitas
Because these bars are filled with caramel, I do recommend storing them in the fridge for the best food safety practices. They are delicious straight from the fridge but you can also let them come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes if you would like. They will also freeze very well if you are looking for longer-term storage. Just lay them flat on a tray in the freezer, and once they have completely frozen, store them all together in an airtight container.
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale
A note on oven temperature
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.
Tools and ingredients
You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!
Did you make these samoa cookie bars
If you made these samoa cookie bars I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Samoa Cookie Bars
- 60 g sweetened coconut flakes (¾ c.)
- 113 g unsalted butter (½ c.)
- 100 g light brown sugar (½ c.)
- 50 g granulated sugar (¼ c.)
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 130 g all purpose flour (1 c. + 1 tbsp.)
- 80 g rolled oats (1 c.)
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 170 g dark chocolate chips (1 c.)
- 225 g salted caramel sauce (1 c.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Grease and line an 8×8 baking dish with butter and parchment paper.
- In a small saute pan set over medium heat, stir the coconut ocasionally until it turns golden in color. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, melt the butter. Then, whisk in both sugars.
- Whisk in the egg and vanilla until very well combined.
- Add in the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and toasted coconut. Fold the mixture together with a rubber spatula just until no flour streaks remain.
- Pat ~3/4 of the dough down into an even layer in the prepared baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough to the best of your ability (they will be impossible to move once placed since they will start melting – that's okay!)
- Drizzle the caramel in an even layer over the chocolate chips.
- Use your hands to tear off small pieces of cookie dough and distribute them on top of the caramel. It will not completely cover the top – this is okay!
- Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the dough begins to turn golden brown.
- Let the carmelitas chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before slicing. Serve and enjoy!
Leave a Reply