It's almost that time of year again. No, I'm not referring to that wonderful day when we move our clocks forward one hour, allowing us to eat our dinners while it is still light outside in exchange for 60 minutes of sleep (just go to bed earlier that night.) I'm not even talking about the NCAA basketball tournament, which in my house takes precedence over anything else that is occurring at the same time, especially if an ACC team is playing (they're always playing.)
The time of year to which I refer is almost as important to my husband as watching his Duke Blue Devils make their 3-pointers. Yes, it's Girl Scout Cookie time once again. What do they run now, about $12 per box? O.K., maybe not that much, but they do seem to be priced a bit higher every year. When I was both a Brownie and a Girl Scout, I'm pretty sure that the cookies were at the most a few dollars. But then again, we also used to sell them door-to-door around our neighborhood as opposed to setting up a card table outside of the local Albertson's. Because many of my fellow troop members lived in my development, timing was of the essence. I needed to get out there selling immediately, because I just couldn't let Amy and Holly hit all of the cookie-loving neighbors up first. I had my eye on that stuffed owl (yes, a stuffed owl--don't recall what that had to do with the Girl Scouts), but to get it, I needed to sell at least 100 boxes (it seemed like a fair exchange at the time.)
Not only have the prices and the methods for selling Girl Scout changed, but the cookies themselves have evolved. After a quick glance of the "Meet the Cookies" site, I noticed that they are now peddling "Reduced Fat Daisy Go-Rounds", "Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip", and the new "Dulce de Leche." That last one sounds good, but the other two....not so sure. If you're going to enjoy a cookie, then enjoy a real cookie -- just not the whole box. Thank goodness the most popular old-standby flavors are still alive and well: Samoas/Caramel DeLites, Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties, Trefoils/Shortbread, and the rock star of the lot, the Thin Mint (Eric's all-time favorite, especially stored in the freezer.)
The Thin Mint cookie was the inspiration for this recipe. I didn't want to try to recreate the Thin Mint itself, potentially irritating die-hard fans in the process, but rather give it a more sophisticated make-over, complete with an uber-rich spiked chocolate cream filling. Like the Thin Mints, I think that these cookies are best served chilled, along with a glass of milk. Here are my extra tips for making these minty decadent delights:
- If you don't want to use Creme de Menthe or liqueur in your cookies, then you can replace it with peppermint extract. I suggest about a 1/2-teaspoon for the dough and 3/4 to 1 teaspoon for the filling. You can also add a few drops to the coating for an extra hint of mint!
- The cookie dough can be prepared 1 day in advance and chilled, tightly wrapped in plastic. The filling can be be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator, tightly covered.
- Instead of making these cookies chocolate mint, you can play around with the flavoring. For chocolate mocha, try using Kahlua and extra espresso powder. Chocolate coconut, chocolate hazelnut, and chocolate orange with Grand Marnier are all options.
- If you don't have a 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter, try finding something in your kitchen to use as a substitute, such as the top of a glass, a small bowl, or a measuring cup. You can also make the cookies larger/smaller depending on what you have on hand. Just adjust the baking time accordingly.
Mint Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 24 sandwiches
For the cookies
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
2 tablespoons Creme de Menthe liqueur
For the filling
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon heavy cream
3 tablespoons Creme de Menthe
Additional peppermint extract (optional)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
For the coating
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt into a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Mix in the vanilla and the Creme de Menthe. On low speed, add the flour mixture to the bowl in 3 additions, mixing until well combined. Scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it into 4 pieces. Form each piece into a disk, wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
While cookies chill, prepare the filling: Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 1 minutes. Whisk the micture until the chocolate has melted and it is smooth. Whisk in the Creme de Menthe. Taste the filling; if it is not "minty" enough, then add some peppermint extract, a few drops at a time. Cool the mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes. In the bowl od an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and the confectioner's sugar on medium-low until well combined. Mix in the cooled chocolate mixture. Transfer the filling to a bowl, cover, and chill until it is firm but spreadable, about 20 minutes.
Bake the cookies: Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds positions. Working with one disk at a time, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/4-inch round cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, re-rolling scraps as necessary. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, until they are set but soft, rotating positions of the baking sheets halfway through the baking process. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
Assemble the cookie: Spoon 2-3 teaspoons of the filling onto the flat side of one of the cookies. Top with another cookie, flat side-down, and press lightly to adhere. Place the sandwich on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining cookies and filling.
Prepare the coating: In a small saucepan, heat the chocolate and the butter over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Drizzle the chocolate mixture over the tops of the cookies using a decorative zig-zag motion. Chill the cookies until they are set, 15 minutes.