Samoa Bars (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


One thing I have come to realize as a food blogger is that nothing I do is ever completely original. Every time I think I’ve come up with an idea that no one has ever thought of before, I find that I am wrong. Last fall, I had the idea to make an ice cream based on the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, but before I even had a chance to execute the idea, I saw someone else post it on Foodgawker. Then there were my gingerbread biscotti, which I thought for certain was brilliant and original, but a quick google search disabused me of this notion. And now, these Samoa Bars. I’d seen plenty of homemade Samoa cookies and was wandering the house one day when I thought how great the flavours would be in a bar. And a far sight easier to put together, too. Such a great idea, in fact, that lots of other people had thought of it too! It’s also very possible that I had already seen them on another site but forgotten that I’d seen them, so it only seemed like it was an original thought, when really it was the power of suggestion.

Where I lack in completely original ideas, I suppose I make up for it by taking those ideas and making them low carb and/or gluten free. But even there, I have to confess that I plagiarize. Except that I am only plagiarizing myself, which is a little more socially acceptable! Most parts of this recipe are actually pilfered from other recipes I’ve made, but they’ve never been put together quite in this combination. The crust is similar to my Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Bars, the chocolate in the middle and on top is a paired down version of my Homemade Chocolate Chips, and the filling is the caramel sauce from my Sticky Toffee Puddings, with some toasted coconut mixed in.

It was really the caramel sauce that put the idea in my head in the first place. It was so, SO good and I’ve been dreaming of working with it again every since I made it the first time. I got to wondering what it would be like if I put in coconut oil in place of the butter, but I needed a recipe to use it on. The coconut oil lead to thinking about coconut-based treats, which must have been what lead to the thought of Samoas. But the idea of cutting out circular cookies with another hole in the middle seemed like a lot of work and I wasn’t sure I could get a good cookie base with low carb ingredients. Spreading the whole thing in a pan seemed much easier. And then I remembered that the bottoms of Samoas are dipped in chocolate, which wasn’t going to work in bar format…but why not spread the chocolate in the middle? Hey, it may not look exactly like a Samoa, but all the elements are there and it all tastes the same going down, right?

The Results: I am really proud of these! They taste fantastic and all of the elements came together perfectly. I wasn’t sure they would, actually. After I’d baked the crust, I thought it was too soft, more cakey than shortbread and I was saying to my husband that I’d change that and cut back on the amount of crust too, to make it thinner. But once it was all put together, with the chocolate drizzled on top, I changed my mind. I think they were perfect as is. The crust was crisper than I thought it would be, once it cooled, and it was a perfect foil for the rich, coconut caramel topping and the chocolate.

So if you’ve been missing Girl Scout Cookies on your low carb diet, try these. You won’t regret it!

Samoa Bars:

1 1/2 cups almond flour
6 tbsp butter, chilled
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
15 drops stevia extract

Chocolate Filling/Drizzle:
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp powdered erythritol
2.5 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
18 drops stevia extact

Caramel/Coconut Filling:
1 1/2 cups finely shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup granulated erythritol
2 tsp molasses
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp dark rum (optional)

For the crust, preheat the oven to 350F. Combine almond flour, butter, erythritol, xanthan gum and stevia in a food processer. Pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of an 8-inch square pan and bake 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Set aside and let cool.

For the chocolate, melt butter together with powdered erythritol and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously until smooth. Add cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla and stevia extract. (If you find your chocolate seizing, add a little more butter or vegetable oil and stir until smooth).

Spread about 2/3 of chocolate mixture over the cooled crust, reserving remaining chocolate for drizzle.

Toast coconut over medium heat in a medium skillet until golden brown, stirring frequently.

For the caramel sauce, combine erythritol and molasses together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until erythritol has dissolved and mixture bubbles, about 5 to 7 minutes (note – the molasses makes the mixture dark from the beginning so do not go by colour to tell if caramel is done. Make sure it bubbles before continuing to the next step). Remove from heat and stir in the cream, coconut oil and rum. Stir until smooth. Return to heat and boil one minute. Stir in toasted coconut.

Spread coconut mixture over chocolate-covered crust. Let cool completely (about 1 hour), then cut into squares. Gently reheat remaining chocolate mixture and drizzle over cut bars.

Serves 16. Each bar has a total of 7.8 g of carbs and 4.6 g of fiber (there is a surprising amount of fiber in both chocolate and coconut!). Total NET CARBS = 3.2 g.

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  1. Birgit Kerr says

    Ohhh, they look/sound delicious!I have to try those soon – very soon! :) Thanks for the recipe!

    And I totally know what you mean about "originality." There have been countless time when I thought I had come up with something totally new only to find that others had done it 5 different ways before me already. However, I've resigned myself to that fact and post the recipes anyway, as all of them will be slightly different and will suit different people, so it's all good :)

  2. Krissy says

    I'm thrilled you posted your "unoriginal" recipe. I would have never thought to do this and they are my favorite cookies! Drooling over here. Well done.

  3. Karen says

    I hate it when you think of something and then see it on a blog days later…I always feel like it will look like I'm "copying"…ha.
    Each and every element of these bars sounds so tempting…I can imagine they combine to make a wonderful treat!

  4. RavieNomNoms says

    I feel the same way. I made those salted caramel brownies not too long ago and then all of a sudden I see salted caramels, and then salted brownies. Haha, I hear ya lady. No matter what you do it always seems you thought of it last. But your blog is very original, don't forget that. Even if you might have a similar recipe to someone else. I find your blog one of the most unique.

    These bars are great! Somoas are my favorite girl scout cookie. They used to be called caramel delights when I was a girl scout hehe

  5. Jen at The Three Little Piglets says

    One of my chef instructors is always say we are all copycats because there is nothing new under the sun! Look delicious to me!

  6. Jennifer says

    Lovely, Carolyn – as always. You also know how to set the stage for beautiful photos. My son says you could be a professional food photographer! I have an idea and will contact you soon. :)

  7. Lizzy says

    Oh, you have made many, many people happy today with this recipe! My favorite GS cookie…and you've miraculously made them low carb and gluten free and DELICIOUS!!! Buzzed and stumbled these winners.

  8. Curt says

    I know exactly how you feel when creating a new recipe. Or so you thought!

    I feel so naive when I realize it's been done numerous times, but I hadn't heard of it yet.

    Like when I thought I was on to something special by putting coffee in a spice rub. 2 days later I saw Bobby Flay doing it.

    Back on subject; these bars look delicious!

  9. Hester aka The Chef Doc says

    Yup, Samoas are my favorite GS cookies when the season comes around. Or, I guess they're called Caramel Delights now. Either way, your bars look scrumptious! Send some my way, please :-)

  10. Lynn says

    I know your frustration, many of my wonderful ideas have already been thought of too.
    But you definitely made these bars your own. They look amazing!

  11. Brewed Coffee says

    Yes, I guess that when it comes to recipes, with so much of them around, we find it hard to come up with very original ones, those never before seen….but I suppose the difference will be evident once we taste the food :-) The originality there is very distinguishable.

    I like the new blog layout…nicely done! :-)

  12. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. says

    I think if you can put on a gluten-free twist on things like this, then that is original! But, really, I feel the same way about a lot of what I post. At the same time though, just because I've heard of it, doesn't mean others have too! So, keep doing your thang!! Btw, Samoas are my favorite GS cookie so I love these!

  13. Anne@frommysweetheart says

    Carolyn….isn't that always the way! You think you come up with the most brilliant revelation only to find it's been done before! But you certainly made these your own! They are just beautiful! Caramel and coconut…it just doesn't get any better than that!

  14. Kari says

    I actually quite like that nothing is ever 100% original…it adds to the fun of the endless combinations of ingredients, the slight tweaks to a recipe that change the end result, and the fact that you can just have fun with food combinations.

    What's more, when your creations turn out the way they do, I think there's no need to worry about where the original ideas came from. They're good enough to speak for themselves :)

  15. Peggy says

    I love your version! I've made a version of samoa bars, myself and I know how delicious they are! I didn't do the layer of chocolate though, so I'm definitely going to work that in next time =)

  16. Boulder Locavore says

    This look insanely good! Your photos are so alluring too. Love knowing you've already dealt with the gluten free modifications so I don't need to! Thank you.

  17. Emily @ A Cambridge Story says

    What a GREAT idea. I made Samoas scones ones – but these are much prettier. Could I sub AP flour for the almond flour?

  18. Renee Thomas says

    Ooohhh! I just love your blog! These are my favorite GS cookie and I can't wait to try these. You fuel my imagination to create and try to make all my favorites into low carb creations. You are my muse…Brava!

  19. Brooks at Cakewalker says

    Carolyn, Low-carb? I'm in! This is a terrific, approachable recipe and I thank you for sharing it. Spike the flavor while keeping the guilt in check!

  20. Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} says

    Ha! I know what you mean. I have an idea and google it- kapow! 200 people have already made that. Then I google something no matches…hmm I question myself if it is a good idea after all! lol

  21. Emily @ Life on Food says

    Who cares if it is not original. A good thing is a good thing. I love the girl scout cookies. Yours are beautiful. I don't think I have seen any before with the layers like yours! Lovely!

  22. Chef Dennis says

    Carolyn, those bars look heavenly, and I can't believe how easily you transform baked goods into gluten free low carb taste sensations. These are a wow for sure!

  23. scratch-made wife says

    I always avoided the samoas and stuck to the peanut butter patties … and then I fell in love with coconut. And now I seriously want one of these bars! They look soooo good. Your photos are great – and I'm sure the recipe is, too. :)

  24. Ann says

    These look delicious – I run across the same thing…I think I've made something new – and someone beat me to the punch!

  25. Simona says

    your bar loks delicious i have to make them as soon as possible 'ill try to find in Italy allthe ingredient in ROme see you soon simmy

  26. kita says

    I think it all just means that old saying 'great minds think alike'. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself! 😀 These bars look awesome – chewy and delicious!

  27. Wilde in the Kitchen says

    I know! I always think that I'm being super creative, only to find out that I'm not :) These bars look delicious anyways, I love Samoas!

  28. thelittleloaf says

    It's so hard to come up with a truly original recipe…but looks like you've definitely made these your own. They look absolutely delicious and love that they are low carb and low sugar – definitely a keeper!

  29. Jill @ MadAboutMacarons says

    Yet another fabulous recipe winner, Carolyn. You always manage to give them your magic touch by making them low carb and full of imagination. Fabulous!

  30. Celia says

    These bars look delicious – but I really love your thoughts on originality. It's one reason I stick to the old books – easier to rework a classic than reinvent the wheel!

  31. Terra says

    I love that we can take a fun recipe idea, and still make it our own. That is the fun part of being a food Blogger:-) You do a beautiful job making recipes your own:-) Samoas cookies are my favorite, I love your gluten free version;-) Hugs, Terra

  32. Catherine H. says

    I was very excited ti see this post–what a fantastic idea! I LOVE Samoas, but it's been years. So I made them tonight (they're cooling as I type), and I ran into a snag bear the end. I wonder if you could be a little more specific in your directions regarding the caramel. I realized too late that the molasses darkens the erythritol, so that it's impossible to say whether the erythritol is itself getting too dark or not. I ended up taking it off the stove before it bubbled, although probably after it had cooked five minutes. After I stirred in the cream etc. it was still quite liquidy, almost water-like in texture. Is it supposed to be liquid, or more viscous like real caramel? I stirred in the coconut and proceeded with the recipe. It is now cooling and acquiring the typical grainy texture of erythritol-based concoctions. Is that how yours turned out or did you miraculously achieve true caramel texture?

    P.S. I am the Catherine who asked about replacing soy flour in your zucchini muffin recipe, and I did see your comment, thanks! I'll let you know how those turn out soon, because now I have two huge zucchini hanging out in my fridge.

  33. Carolyn says

    Hi Catherine,
    Excellent point about the caramel, I will amend the instructions. Yes, you definitely need to wait until it bubbles and it can take a bit of time to do so, otherwise it won't be the right texture. It will still harden up some in the end, as all erythritol concoctions do, but once you've added in the coconut and spread it over the bars, it stays soft enough for biting into. It never gets that chewiness that comes with sugar caramel…sadly, erythritol just doesn't work that way! But it is definitely good on these bars.

  34. Nichol says

    These look and sound delicious. I may have to make them for my brother who found out not too long ago he has celiacs disease. Thanks:)

  35. Audra says

    I know exactly what you mean! I actually made some Samoa bars when I first started blogging and I totally thought I would have been the first. Regardless- yours look gorgeous and your pictures, as always, are stunning! Great post.

  36. Nikki says

    OMG I made these the other night and they were soooo good. I made some with chocolate and some with raspberry jam because my hubby is allergic to chocolate–both were fabulous! Thanks Carolyn for yet another amazing low carb dessert!

  37. Catherine H. says

    Sadly, these did not work out for me. Some of it may have been my fault–I did not cook the caramel long enough because I was nervous about it burning–but I think mistaken expectations may also have set me up for a fall. Samoas are my BFF among girl scout cookies, so I was keenly aware of every difference in texture and taste. The shortbread base was not at all crunchy or cookie-ish, but soft (very like the peanut-butter caramel bars) and too thick. The combination of erythritol-sweetended chocolate and erythritol-filled caramel was too much for my mouth, and I eventually received a burning sensation. This is a phenomenon that only some people seem to experience when eating erythritol–other people who tried the same dessert didn't know what I was talking about. (I wonder if it's a genetic thing, like smelling asparagus in one's urine . . .? To avoid this feeling, I often substitute xylitol, which does not seem to affect me that way.) I wanted to like these, but I just couldn't.

  38. Anonymous says

    I made these two days ago and they are amazing. I refrigerated them last night and they are even better when chilled. Bravo – this is my new favorite low-carb "sweets" recipe!

  39. Heather says

    These look delicious and I would love to try them, but do you have any suggestions for substituting for molasses? Thank you for such fabulous recipes!

  40. Heather says

    OMG, these look delicious and I would love to try them, but do you have any suggestions for substituting for molasses? Thank you for such fabulous recipes!

  41. Carol B. says

    Omg Carolyn these are amazing – made them tonight and flavor and texture are spot on! The only difference between these and the originals is I could stop after 2 small pieces because they didn’t set me off on a huge sugar binge :)

  42. says

    Do you happen to know how to substitute sugar for erythritol or vice versa? I don’t eat it, and I don’t know enough about it to know how much of something else to start with. I thought I’d ask you first, ’cause maybe your package says “substitute ____ erythritol for 1 c. sugar” or some such. :)

  43. Brooke says

    Hi there! These look Amazing!! Instead of making the chocolate, could I just buy sugar free chocolate to use? It would save me some time and money! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  44. Kay says

    Great recipe!
    My first try was … well, improvable, the crust was very hard. Maybe I got the cup -> metric conversion wrong or it was in the oven too long.

    My question is: Do you have some conversion for your Stevia extract like “1 drop = 1 tsp sugar”? Then I could convert it to my Stevia tablets.


    • Carolyn says

      Not really, but I can say that 1/4 tsp (and this would be about 1/4 tsp) is equal to about 1/4 cup sugar. Does that help?

  45. Rae says

    My daughter and I made these last night. She really wanted to make them and I was against it bc I thought it would be too complicated. They were not complicated at all, and they are awesome. Thank you for your wonderful recipes. Although you can avoid buying processed goodies, and not give them to your kids…it’s hard not to look like the bad guy. Your recipes, so far the brownie bark, skillet cookie, samoa bars and vanilla coconut cupcakes have really made my life easier and have shown my girl that you can eat healthy treats that don’t taste, “gross”. : -)

    • Carolyn says

      Oh good, I am so glad they weren’t hard to make. Trust me, I know all about trying to keep kids off the sugar-y storebought stuff. Sometimes I am successful, but sometimes…not.

  46. Common Sense says

    Finally got around to making these today – just wonderful! My eldest adult son, who sneers at my “low carb stuff”, liked them too.

    They do take a bit more time than other treats since there are 3 layers. Not difficult, just time consuming compared to say, the cookie skillet. But well worth it!

  47. Mindy says

    Additional NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION: 1 bar (makes 16) 263 calories, 2.1g protein, 20.7g fat
    Worked out the math but haven’t made them yet. So excited to try this recipe!!

    • Carolyn says

      I can’t say for sure but people have said they’ve had good luck with a lot of my caramel recipes doing that. So I say it’s certainly worth a try.


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