How to Make Girl Scout Cookies Year Round

Sarah Rockwood, Staff Writer

Young girls in brown sashes jumping up and down in front of Safeway. Tables are stacked with colorful boxes on every corner.  There is a frenzy frenzy of ravenous high school students trying to get their hands on another box.  Finishing off the entire box when you told yourself just one more.  The season of Girl Scout Cookies has finally returned.

It’s a joyous time for everyone: the few months of the year when those classic, delicious cookies are available everywhere.  Who can resist the sweet smile of an innocent little girl or the box of delectable, heavenly cookies in her hand?  But are Girl Scout cookies all they’re cracked up to be?

As a Girl Scout myself, I should probably be praising the deliciousness of Thin Mints and convincing you to buy some (from me, of course).  But the customers aren’t the only ones upset by the skyrocketing prices and shrinking servings.  Each year, it seems like you’re getting less and less for your dollar, and you are. Are the cookies getting any better?  To top it all off, one look at the nutritions facts is enough to give your doctor a scare.

But you can still have all the tastiness of a Samoas without the obscene prices or diabetic ingredients.  All it takes is a little extra effort. Next time you’re craving that creamy Tag-along or sensational Thin Mints, try one of these do-it-yourself recipes.  Not only will you end up with more (guiltless) cookies for half the price, but you can put your own spin on it and have an enjoyable time baking them with your friends (or on your own, of course, for the cookies).

Homemade Samoas

Cookie Ingredients 

1 cup butter, soft

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

up to 2 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt followed by the vanilla and milk as needed to make dough come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Roll the dough out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a knife to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Topping Ingredients

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

12-oz good-quality chewy caramels

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp milk

8 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300.

Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet.  Set aside.

Place caramels in a large bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high in a microwave for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Using a spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel if it gets too firm.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.  Let dry.

Makes about 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

Homemade Thin Mint Cookies

Adapted from In Katrina’s Kitchen

Cookie Ingredients

1 1/4 cups butter, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup dutch processes cocoa or dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups flour

1 pound good quality melting chocolate – I used half milk and half semi-sweet chocolate, all dark chocolate would be great too!

Pure Peppermint extract

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla and mix together. Add half of the flour and mix. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time until you get a pretty dry dough. You don’t want the dough to be sticky; crumbly is okay.  Divide the dough into 3 balls and pat them together to form a disk. Cover the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Roll your dough from one disk out between two pieces of parchment paper until ¼-⅛  inch thick. Use a 2 inch circle cutter to cut out the cookies. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Chop up your chocolate. Put it in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it for 1 minute. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds. Do this until your chocolate is smooth and melted. When your chocolate is melted, stir in your peppermint extract to taste – it should be right around 1 teaspoon of extract.

Drop a cookie in the melted chocolate and make sure all of it gets covered in the chocolate. Fish the cookie out with a fork. Place the chocolate-coated cookie on a piece of parchment or waxed paper until set, or put in the fridge or freezer.

Homemade Tagalongs Cookies

Cookie Ingredients

1 cup butter, soft

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

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. The dough should come together into a soft ball.

Take a tablespoon full of dough and flatten it into a disc about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes, until bottoms and the edges are lightly browned and cookies are set.

Immediately after removing cookies from the oven, use your thumb or a small spoon to make a depression in the center of each cookie. Set aside to cool.

Filling Ingredients

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (natural or regular)

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar*

generous pinch salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

about 8-oz semisweet chocolate

In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, salt and vanilla. When the mixture has come together, heat it in the microwave until very soft. Working carefully with the hot filling, transfer it to a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the tip cut off) and pipe a generous dome of the filling into each cookie’s “thumbprint”.

Chill cookies with filling for 20-30 minutes, or until the peanut butter is firm.

Melt the chocolate in a small, heat-resistant bowl.  Dip chilled cookies into chocolate, let excess drip off, and place on a sheet of parchment paper to let the cookies set up. Makes about 3-dozen.