I'm up in Jackson Hole, Wy again, this time for the entire month of August (an ideal month to skedaddle from the Las Vegas heat.) Eric and I drove up with the dogs on Saturday, a drive that makes you realize just how big the state of Utah is. On the positive side, I got a whopping 42 out of 50 states crossed off for my license plate game--including Alaska--a personal record.
After a few days of running around town, doing errands and stocking up the fridge, I have finally settled into a routine. Each morning, following my coffee and the Jackson Hole Daily, our local free paper, I head out to conquer The King.
I've mentioned before that my daily workout at home takes place on the treadmill, walking at a steep incline. Up in J.H., where there are as many trails as there are moose, it makes no sense to do that sort of workout during the summer (unless it is hailing--even then, I still might hit the trail.) So, my daily workout here is hiking up Snow King.
Here's the thing: Those 2-1/2 miles go directly up.....and up.....and up......the entire way. Switchback after switchback after switchback of rising terrain comes at you relentlessly, with a mere 200 paces of relatively flat land allowing you to catch your breath just before the final hill.
If I didn't love hiking so much I might have a hard time talking myself into facing The King each morning. But I know that once I reach the top, I will be happy that I did. The views of the entire town of Jackson, the Tetons and the Snake River are absolutely spectacular--worth every huff and puff and occasional stumble over loose gravel. Here's just one of the views -- not too shabby, huh?
After my morning hike, I get to work on my recipes, writing assignments and blogging. Some of my best recipe ideas are even developed on the trail since I am usually famished by the time I reach the bottom and all I can think about is food. This sandwich cookie is one such recipe.
I was originally going to make this recipe into chocolate mint whoopie pies, filled with generous thick layers of mint buttercream and ganache. I do love a whoopie pie, but I always wish they were a tad bit smaller. Sometimes I just want a "little something" to satisfy my sweet tooth, and if I want more then I can have another little something. So I decided to shrink my idea into bite-sized Chocolate Mint Grasshopper Sandwich Cookies--soft chocolate cookies, mint buttercream and rich bittersweet chocolate ganache.
Because they are small, these cookies would be perfect for a dessert table, served with coffee or as an accompaniment to ice cream. One is also a great reward for a tough morning workout. Just sayin.......
These cookies were inspired by a restaurant dessert at a place called Peter Christian's Tavern in New Hampshire, which we used to visit when I was growing up. Their recipe was called Grasshopper Brownie Chip Pie, a brownie base with a creamy mint filling studded with chocolate chips. Here is my version--in a portable, bite-sized sandwich cookie form!
- 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp (90 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
- 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) espresso powder
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (250 mL) whole milk
- 2 cups (500 mL) sifted confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) creme de menthe liqueur (see note)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) heavy cream
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) heavy cream
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) bittersweet chocolate chips
- Creme de menthe or peppermint extract (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375F/190C, placing racks in upper and lower thirds positions, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk and vanilla, beating until well blended.
- On low speed, add the flour mixture to the bowl in three additions, alternating with the milk, beating until blended after each addition.
- Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, drop batter by the tablespoon (15 mL) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing apart. Bake until cookies are puffed and set but still soft, rotating positions of baking sheets halfway through the baking process, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool cookies completely on baking sheets.
- For the mint buttercream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the confectioner's sugar, butter and salt until well combined. Add the creme de menthe, and beat until blended.
- Add the cream to the bowl and beat the mixture on medium speed until the buttercream is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more.
- For the ganache: Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the chocolate, reduce the heat to low and whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth. Add an additional splash of creme de menthe or a 1/2 tsp (2 mL) peppermint extract if you want your cookies to have an extra minty flavor! Allow the ganache to cool and thicken for about 15 minutes.
- Spread a thin layer of ganache onto the flat side of half of the cookies and set the cookies on a wire rack, flat-sides up
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the mint buttercream. Pipe a layer of mint buttercream onto the flat sides of the remaining cookies in a round swirl.
- Sandwich together the mint buttercream and ganache cookie halves, pressing to adhere. Serve room temperature or chilled (as I prefer!)
If you don't want to use liqueur in this recipe, substitute 1/2 to 1 tsp (2-5 mL) peppermint extract, depending on how minty you want your cookies to be. These cookies are best eaten within a day or two of preparation. Store in air-tight containers at room temperature or chilled.