Chocolate Coconut Caramel Cake (Girl Scout Cookie Cake)

Chocolate Coconut Caramel Cake – layers of chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, shortbread cookie crumbs, shortbread cookie frosting, and a toasted coconut caramel filling.

Chocolate Coconut Caramel Cake (Girl Scout Cookie Cake)

If there’s one cake you absolutely need to try, this is the one! In fact, Ryan gave it the number one spot on his cake list (and he’s one of my toughest critics, so that should tell ya something right there).

Like many of you, the Coconut Caramel Girl Scout cookie is my favorite of the bunch. I look forward to it every March! And I’ve been wanting to make a cake inspired by this cookie since I did my Mint Chocolate Chip and Cookie Cake last year (another favorite Girl Scout Cookie).

Samoa Girl Scout Cookie Cake: delicious dark chocolate cake, caramel coconut filling, shortbread crumbs and shortbread buttercream #cakebycourtney #samoa #girlscoutcookiecake

Inspiration

When I start thinking about new cakes, my first goal is always to make a cake that tastes great! I hope to put together flavor and texture combinations that will WOW you. Since there’s so much going on in the cookie itself, it was important to be to capture all those same flavors and textures in the cake. In my mind, I broke down the cookie into the four parts – chocolate, shortbread, coconut and caramel. I then thought about how best to build the cake with so many flavor and texture elements. In my opinion, building the cake like a Milk Bar cake was the only way to go.

Samoa Girl Scout Cookie Cake: delicious dark chocolate cake, caramel coconut filling, shortbread crumbs and shortbread buttercream #cakebycourtney #samoa #girlscoutcookiecake

The Milk Bar style of cake is unique because you stack it inside acetate paper, and there’s no outer coat of frosting. The acetate helps support the cake and all the different layers of filling and frosting. After you stack the cake, you then refrigerate or freeze it to set and stabilize. When you’re ready to serve, you just remove the acetate paper and have this beautiful, naked cake look.

Samoa Girl Scout Cookie Cake: delicious dark chocolate cake, caramel coconut filling, shortbread crumbs and shortbread buttercream #cakebycourtney #samoa #girlscoutcookiecake

Flavors and Textures

One of the reasons I love this cake so much is because of all the flavors and textures going on. You have bittersweet chocolate cake and chocolate ganache, salty and buttery shortbread cookie crumbs, silky shortbread frosting, and then a crunchy and chewy toasted coconut caramel filling. It’s the best of everything, if you ask me. Just make sure to get all the flavors and textures in every bite. Your mouth will thank you!

One thing to note is that this cake cuts best when chilled a little bit. See my notes in the assembly section of the recipe about how to store and serve the cake.

Samoa Girl Scout Cookie Cake: delicious dark chocolate cake, caramel coconut filling, shortbread crumbs and shortbread buttercream #cakebycourtney #samoa #girlscoutcookiecake

Step-by-Step Tutorial

samoa girl scout cookie cake. www.cakebycourtney.com

Chocolate Coconut Caramel Cake

5 from 32 votes
Layers of chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, shortbread cookie crumbs, shortbread cookie frosting, and toasted caramel coconut filling.

Ingredients
 

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • 1 1/4 cups (150 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (35 g) dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (55 g) vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.1 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (118 g) hot water

FOR THE GANACHE

  • 1 cup (170 g) dark or semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (115.5 g) heavy whipping cream

FOR THE SHORTBREAD CRUMBS

  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (169.5 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour

FOR THE SHORTBREAD BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 1/4 cups (150 g) shortbread cookie crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
  • 6 tablespoons (84.75 g) butter, slightly chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups (187.5 g) powdered sugar

FOR THE COCONUT FILLING

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (118 g) water
  • 2 teaspoons (14 g) corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup (154 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • 14 oz. bag of sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions
 

FOR THE CAKE

  • Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F. Spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment and spray again. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix for about 30 seconds.
  • In a separate bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and whisk for a few seconds.
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Once all the wet ingredients are added, continue to mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 15 to 30 seconds. Don’t over beat this batter.
  • Pour the batter into a quarter sheet baking pan. Bake the cake for 16-18 minutes.

FOR THE SHORTBREAD BUTTERCREAM

  • Combine the shortbread cookie crumbs, milk, and salt in a blender. Turn the speed to medium-high and puree until smooth and homogenous. This should take about 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your blender (I use a Magic Bullet). If the mixture does not catch on your blender blade, turn the blender off, take a small teaspoon, and scrape down the sides of the canister, remembering to scrape under the blade, then try again.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and powdered sugar, and beat together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and mix for another 20 seconds.
  • On low speed, add the contents of the blender to the butter and powdered sugar. After 1 minute, crank the speed up to medium-high and let the mixture beat for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If the mixture is not a uniform, very pale, barely tan in color, give the bowl another scrape-down and another minute of high-speed paddling.
  • Use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

FOR THE GANACHE

  • In a microwave safe bowl, heat the cream for about 1 minute. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for about 5 minutes. Mix the chocolate and cream until smooth and shiny. If needed, microwave the mixture for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Let cool slight before adding to the cake.

FOR THE SHORTBREAD CRUMBS

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir in the flour. If the mixture is too crumbly, you can add another tablespoon of butter.
  • Sprinkle the shortbread cookie dough crumbs evenly over the baking sheet. 
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden brown on top. Cool completely before using. 

FOR THE COCONUT FILLING

  • Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan.
  • Bring the water and sugar mixture to boil over medium heat, but DO NOT STIR. (Stirring encourages crystallization). Let the mixture cook until it caramelizes into a golden brown color. It happens quickly, so keep an eye on it.
  • Remove the caramelized sugar syrup from the heat and slowly mix in the cream. Pour in just a tiny bit at a time, especially at the beginning, and mix to combine. You can start adding more and more as you go along.
  • Mix in salt and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  • Set the caramel sauce to the side and let cool while you toast the coconut.
  • Set your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and pour all of the coconut evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake the coconut for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and toss, and then toast for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown all over. Let cool completely.
  • Combine the caramel and the coconut. You’ll use about ⅓ of the mixture for each layer of the cake.

ASSEMBLY

  • For the cake, put a piece of parchment or a silpat on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These two full circles will be your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scraps” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
  • You can see pictures from the Milk Bar website HERE or check my Instagram and YouTube for videos.
  • For the first layer, clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment. Line the cake ring with one strip of acetate.
  • Place the cake scraps together inside the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.
  • Use the back of a spoon to spread one-third of the chocolate ganache in an even layer over the cake. 
  • Sprinkle about ⅓ of the shortbread cookie crumbs evenly over the ganache. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.
  • Use a piping bag to pipe about 1 cup of the shortbread cookie frosting into the shortbread cookie crumbs.
  • Sprinkle ⅓ of the toasted coconut caramel filling over the frosting. 
  • For the second layer, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake.
  • Set a cake round on top of the coconut filling, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of your 2 cake rounds is jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top).
  • For the third layer, nestle the remaining cake round into the coconut filling, cover the top of the cake with the remaining ganache, shortbread cookies, shortbread frosting and coconut filling. 
  • Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks (make sure to wrap in plastic wrap). 
  • At least 5 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. gently peel off the acetate, and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours (wrapped well in plastic, the cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days).

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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Comments

  1. I started making this cake tonight… holy cow my house smells AMAZING! I cannot wait to assemble it tomorrow. It will be perfect for my hubby’s b-day.

  2. Quick question, (THIS LOOKS AMAZING!! BTW) When you make the recipe for the shortbread cookie crumbs, is it enough for the cookie crumb layer as well as the 1 1/4 C needed for the frosting?

  3. I’m feeding a lot of people, so I wanted to do an 8-inch cake. Can I use 8 inch pans for this? and should I one and a half everything?

  4. In the process of making this, can’t wait to try it!

    One question: In the directions for the “Shortbread Cookie Frosting” it says to “combine the butter and powdered sugar and cream” but there doesn’t seem to be “cream” in the ingredient list.

    Thanks!

  5. How much cream is supposed to be in the frosting? It is the the directions but not the ingredients.

    1. When it says “cream” in the instructions, it means cream as in beat the butter and sugar together.

  6. I’m curious… do you ever do any of your Milk Bar inspired cakes in regular cake pans? I’d like to make a bigger cake so I’m considering just using my pans instead of a cake ring and going for more if a semi-naked look.

    1. I haven’t personally, but I know many people have. They just end up frosting the entire cake because the edges don’t like up like they do with the cake ring.

  7. Courtney, I loved this cake! I made only one tiny change – I used hot coffee instead of hot water for the cake other than that I followed your recipe and it did not disappoint! The plastic folder worked perfectly too by the way! It’s a lot of steps but worth it…absolute delicious & impressive looking to boot! 😊

  8. This is the third cake of yours I’ve made and my favorite so far! But they’re all so good!! Your site is officially my go to now. Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. My daughter was wanting a trifle for her birthday, and I was really wanting to try this recipe, so I combined my thoughts with yours, and man was it good!
    Here’s how I layered the trifle:
    -chocolate cake, broken in small pieces
    -a layer of salted caramel mouse
    -a layer of your shortbread cookie crumbs
    -a layer of your coconut caramel mixture
    -your chocolate ganache
    -repeat layers

    The caramel mousse was so good with all of the other elements, and didn’t make the cookie bits get soggy like a pudding might! I would also think the caramel mousse would be great as a cake filling!

    1. You can. Just use a half sheet pan and an 8-inch cake ring. I would double all of the filling ingredients as well.

  10. This cake is so yummy! The instructions where great. I have made this 2 times and I am having a hard time cutting it because the coconut layer is hard to cut through. I have made sure the cake is deforested and at room temperature. Any suggestions?

  11. 5 stars
    Hey Courtney! This cake is sooo goood! Do you think this could be made as a 7 inch cake? I’ve made it before as directed (4 inch), but it was too yummy we ran out in like 5 seconds lol and now my family has requested I make a bigger one haha

  12. Is the corn syrup measurement correct in the coconut filling? I don’t think that 2 teaspoons corn syrup is 41 grams…probably 2 tablespoons. Trying to decide which to go with… thank you!

  13. 5 stars
    Holy Girl Scout Cookie Cake Batman!!
    Oh.My.Word. This was absolutely fantastic! You are a cake genius!
    Shortbread cookie frosting? Um, yes…it tastes EXACTLY like shortbread cookies! I had such doubts about that…especially after reading the directions, but it was fantastic!
    The showstopper waves truly the coconut caramel!
    Just all in all a total hit! I can’t wait to choose my next cake!
    Thank you for such fabulous, creative recipes that WORK!!
    Cannot wait for the cookbook!

  14. 4 stars
    I followed the recipe verbatim and I feel like the ratios for the toasted coconut filling aren’t quite right. When I combined the sauce with the coconut, I felt like I barely had enough sauce to coat the coconut. I was expecting it to be a gooey type mixture, or is it supposed to be more like just caramel coated coconut? I can’t quite tell by the photo .When I mixed it up there was no left over caramel filling, it coated every piece of coconut.

      1. 5 stars
        Awesome thank you, I also wanted to use a store bought caramel instead, how much would I need to mix with the coconut? This cake looks sooo good.

  15. I searched the recipe and seem to have missed what size ring to use for cutting. Please let me know what that is. Thank you

  16. 5 stars
    This was the perfect blend of sweet and salty with lovely textures and flavors. I’m not a fan of sweet on sweet on sweet cakes, so this was perfect. One of my favorites that I’ve ever made and I make a lot of cakes! Courtney’s flavor and component combos are amazing! And I love her new cake cookbook!

  17. 2 question: I don’t have a cake ring so I was wondering if I can just bake it in a 6” pan and for the shortbread buttercream am I suppose to use the same crumbs that’s being layered onto the cake?

  18. Courtney-this looks like a winner! I am going to make this cake for sure. I am confused by the acetane instructions. I have never used it in cake making. How exactly do you use it? What size do I purchase? And do you have any brand preference for cake rings? Thank you!

    1. You want to get strips of acetate paper that are 3-4″ tall. You’ll cut the length to fit the 6-inch cake round. And I don’t have a preference on cake ring brand.

  19. For the caramel, is it 125 g of sugar or 1 cup? Normally a cup of granulated sugar would be 200 g. Thanks!

  20. 5 stars
    14oz of coconut is over 4 cups. Is this correct? In your picture the coconut is hardly seen. Mine looks like a whole layer.

  21. This cake is amazing and delicious- also gorgeous!

    Two things:
    1. It took me about three hours to make;
    2. My coconut burnt in 5.5 minutes at 425 – totally black- billows of black smoke (maybe not billows, but it was visible);
    3. I went without coconut because I didn’t have any more on hand. Cake was still amazing!
    4. I might make 1.5 recipe for frosting- I ran a little short at the end.

    Thank you for a great cake recipe!

    PS – I don’t bake much, so maybe others could have made the cake faster, but it’s pretty labor it’s pretty labor intensive. I clean as I go, so that may take longer, too.

  22. The cake is good with all the layers. I liked it overall. Next time I will cut the salt content in the coconut layer for me it was a bit too much. I would start with 1 tsp and add salt to you taste. I likevyo taste the contrast of the salt with the other flavors but 2 tsp was too much for me

  23. 5 stars
    If I made the coconut filling ahead of time, like a day early, what would be the best way to store it? on the counter? in the fridge ? I’m worried it will be rock hard if I store it in the fridge overnight.

  24. I’m looking forward to making this cake for the weekend. I just had one question: the directions say to put a cake round between each layer, but in the photo of a slice the cake is cut through all the layers. Am I supposed to put cardboard cake rounds in the cake or no? I’ve never made a cake like this before so I’m not sure what to do. Thank you!

  25. When you’re baking, what type/brand of vegetable oil are you using? Trying to find high quality for baking

  26. 5 stars
    My 18 year old daughter made this for my 9 year olds birthday and it was amazing! We shared some of the leftovers with the missionaries and they were in awe of how good it was. They said it was in their top 3 favorite desserts they’ve eaten on their mission.