My entire adult life I’ve been strictly a Thin Mints or Peanut Butter Sandwich (aka Do-Si-Dos depending on where you live) kinda girl. I’m like that. I find something I like and I stick with it. My whole life I thought I didn’t like coconut, so I never bothered trying the Samoa Girl Scout cookie. Big mistake! Huge! Last year a co-worker brought a bunch of Girl Scout cookies to work and I decided to try the Samoa and I’m so glad I did because it was awesome. I decided to combine the flavors of the cookie – caramel, chocolate and coconut – into a cheesecake, one of my very favorite desserts.
Traditional cheesecake recipes require quite a bit of work with the baking, water bath, chilling, etc and I wanted to keep this really simple, so I went with the no-bake method. You can absolutely do this with a traditional cheesecake though if that’s what you prefer.
*If you can’t find the chocolate wafer cookies you can substitute Oreo’s (scrape the cream out of the middle) or chocolate graham crackers.
*The cookies can be crushed in a food processor but I like the baggie/rolling pin method. Less to clean up!
*Be sure to let the cream cheese sit on the counter for at 30-60 minutes. If you don’t have that much time you can soften it in the microwave. Place cut-up cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 15 to 20 seconds.
*Keep a very close eye on the coconut while it’s in the oven. It burns really easily if you’re not careful. I always use the timer on my phone for things like this. Otherwise it’s out of sight, out of mind!
- 1 9-oz package chocolate wafer cookies
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 large lemons)
- 1½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 packed cup brown sugar
- ½ cup half-and-half
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
- ⅓ cup jarred dark chocolate sauce (I used Smucker's Simple Delight Dark Chocolate Topping)
- Place cookies into a large sealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to crush cookies until fine crumbs form. Pour crushed cookies into a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until combined.
- Press cookies into the bottom of a 9-in springform pan pressing them flat with the bottom of a glass.
- Place the crust in the freezer and chill at least 15 minutes.
- To make the filling, place softened cream cheese in a large bowl. Using a hand held electric mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth. Slowly pour in the milk, lemon juice and vanilla and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Mix the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Add the vanilla and cook another minute or two, until the mixture gets even thicker. Turn off the heat and let the caramel sit in the pan until it cools slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Remove crust from the freezer. Pour the caramel sauce over the crust swirling the pan to make sure the caramel covers the entire crust. Place crust back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or until the caramel sets.
- NOTE: if the caramel sauce cools too much it will be hard to spread over the crust. Rewarm the sauce over medium-low heat, if needed, before pouring into the crust.
- Remove the crust from the freezer. Pour the cream cheese filling into the crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 2½ to 3 hours.
- While the cheesecake chills, preheat the oven the 350 degrees. Spread coconut in a single, even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 5-6 minutes or until the coconut begins to turn golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven and stir the coconut. Bake another 3-4 minutes, keeping a close eye on the coconut so it doesn't burn. Set aside to cool.
- Remove the chilled cheesecake from the fridge. Unclasp the sides of the pan, and carefully remove the springform rim.
- Top the cheesecake with the toasted coconut, pressing it gently to help it adhere to the top of the cake.
- Warm the dark chocolate sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the sauce and use a spoon to drizzle the sauce all over the top of the cheesecake.
**The recipe for the caramel sauce has been adapted ever so slightly from Ree Drummond’s Easy Caramel Sauce.