For some reason, everyone starts drooling anytime Thin Mints are mentioned. It’s like some kind of holy dish people only get to indulge in once a year. I’ve always thought, “They’re good, but aren’t they just processed cookies?” I’ve seen the back of the box before, and in my opinion, if there’s ingredients that are more than thirteen letters long – that’s definitely a sign that it isn’t good for you.
I buy one box from my neighbor’s daughter every year (at $4 a pop, which according to my friend, is a steal), but I would probably buy more if they were organic, all-natural, or homemade. I hate to burst the Girl Scout cookie bubble, but they’re made by Interbake Foods, LLC. There’s nothing really that cute about it.
I have to admit, I’m also a little bitter about my own personal Girl Scout experience. My mother enrolled me into Girl Scouts one summer just to try it out, and it turned out to be a traumatic experience. I was the last in line while we were hiking in a single file line through the woods one day, when the third to last girl stepped on a wasp hive. All three of us, being at the end of the line, ran as fast as we could in the opposite direction down the trail, frantically batting away the wasps. I ended up with the most stings – 26 to be exact – countless oatmeal baths, and a vow to never, ever be a Girl Scout.
So anyway, here’s to me being a Girl Scout, 15 years later. I don’t have any badges to prove it, but these cookies are damn good.
Makes 48 to 60 cookies | From Pearvana
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and extracts and beat until smooth. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Mix until just combined. Place dough in the fridge for about 10 minutes — this will make it easier to shape into logs.
Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Turn one portion onto a piece of waxed paper and roll into a log about 10 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. (Or bigger, if you want bigger cookies.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up 24 hours. Repeat with remaining dough. (You can also freeze the dough for a month, then slice and bake directly from the freezer.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the dough into 1/4- to 1/3-inch rounds. Place on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are firm around the edges but soft on top, about 13 to 15 minutes (or a little longer for frozen dough). Let cool.
Melt the chocolate and vegetable oil in double boiler, or in the microwave. Line two baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Use a small offset spatula to spread a layer of the chocolate glaze over the top of each cookie. Place the cookies in the fridge for 15 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm. Store at room temp in an airtight container.
Suggested listening: Paula’s Folk Station on Pandora
These are the ingredients that I used. Magazines and cookbooks usually aren’t allowed to show branded products but the great thing about blogging is that I can – and I like to, too because this is the way real people cook. Real people don’t go browsing the farmers markets every weekend in France
for the freshest produce, or buy ingredients in special little jars from Whole Foods. Nope. Real people buy Safeway branded dairy, and Costco vanilla (but may I mention that it is 100% natural).
I’m still new at baking, and this is my first time using unsweetened cocoa powder. It is amazing. The powder is very fine, almost fluffy. It adds an incredibly rich taste to desserts and it smells amazing just mixing it into batter.
And here is the cookie log! After refrigerating the soft batter for ten minutes or so, it was easy to form it into logs. I usually avoid making “freezer cookies” (cookies formed into a log shape, freezed, then sliced for baking) because it involves a lot of butter…what you see here contains one entire stick of butter! Like most freezer cookies, the recipe calls for two whole sticks of butter. The only reason I let myself make them is becuase thin mints are just so good…but no more freezer cookies after this one, unless I learn how to make them low fat. Anyway…
After slicing the cookies thin, I pressed each down with my fingers to ensure they are super-thin. They rise a little bit after baking, and with the thick chocolate coat, they should be about the right size. Each cookie log made about 25 cookies, so I ended up having three cookie sheets full.
Melting chocolate chips in a “double boiler”. Of course I don’t have one of those, so I used a large bowl on top of a pot of hot water on the stove. I kept the heat medium high to melt the chocolate, then I turned it down to low so I could keep it smooth while dipping. It worked beautifully. It might be ok to do this part in the microwave, but I’ve never had luck with it.
The chocolate is ready for cookie-dipping! (or fondue. maybe next time.) As much as I didn’t want to put in vegetable oil, I did as the recipe told and it made the chocolate smoother and much easier to work with. I also found that my uncoated cookies weren’t minty enough, I added a few drops more of the peppermint extract into the coating for extra flavor.
It took several tries to get this coating on correctly. I used a bagel knife/cake froster/pie cutter tool I found to do this. I discovered that pushing the cookie to the sides of the bowl help get the excess chocolate off – easier and more attractive than spreading it on the cookie.
The finished Thin Mints. It was definitely a process, but very worthwhile. It was a hit at the office today – they were gone the second time I went back into the kitchen. I even saw four of them on my co-worker’s desk. I’m definitely making them again.
Update: March 22, 2009
This post has been getting A LOT of views. That’s great. Thanks to everyone who has checked it out, and good luck to making your own Thin Mints! Show the Girl Scouts what you’ve got.