Homemade Thin Mints
I am writing to you from the sluggish, self-wallowing position of a lowly college student that must go back to school. I realize that almost all other students have been back in classes for a good week or two by now and that I am very fortunate to have had a little more than a full month for Christmas break, but still, it doesn’t ease that looming weight of what will soon be my bag filled with textbooks and essays. These cookies are my parting farewell from my home, the land of always-excuses-to-eat-cookies and never-ending-fully-stocked-pantry.
I made these as part of a routine I got while lazing around at home this past month. After waking up, feeding the dog, and watching the Martha Stewart Show, I’d head off to the gym which, upon coming home, I would of course need to counteract by making something addicting and unhealthy. I think a crumbly soft and crunchy chocolate shortbread cookie coated with glossy chocolate fits the bill, no?
These cookies come from Heidi Swanson’s first book, Super Natural Cooking. They are not really healthy (as you may have already obviously concluded), but they are indeed super natural and there is certainly something to be said for that. I think they taste strikingly like the original Girl Scout thin mint cookies but my mom says they’re better. I would have to say that they’re more addicting than the originals, not sure if I’ve decided that’s a good or bad thing yet though.
The only downside to them is that you have to store them in the fridge or freezer and they don’t last long at room temperature before they start getting messy and sticky. It’s almost a good thing they’re that way though, because it ensures that you eat them when they’re best: straight from the fridge, crisp and cold. They’re a treat. A treat to savor, if only for a day or two, before I enter that dreaded routine of work and sustaining myself off nourishing but inconsistent meals. Hello again, school.
Homemade Thin Mints
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking
Makes quite a lot, about 2 or 3 dozen
Make sure you pick up peppermint oil, NOT extract at the store. Peppermint extract is something like four times less flavorful than oil, so if you do end up using peppermint extract, you may have to add a few more teaspoons to get the same level of flavor.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cocoa powder
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or all-purpose flour
1 pound (16 ounces) good semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint oil, more as needed
Using a stand or hand-held mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and cream some more, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go to get it all incorporated. Add in the vanilla, cocoa powder, egg white and salt and continue creaming until the batter is smooth and creamy with the consistency of thick chocolate frosting. Add the flour and mix until the batter is no longer dusty looking. It’s okay if it’s still a bit crumbly (it will all come together), but try not to overwork the dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, gather into a ball and bring together in a smooth mass. The dough should be soft and a little crumbly. Place dough in plastic wrap, flatten to a one inch thickness, and put the dough in the freezer for about twenty minutes to harden up.
While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees and center a rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once chilled, remove dough and roll out until somewhere around a 1/6 inch thickness–but make sure to not make the dough too thin. The dough will be hard, but work with it to get to the correct thickness. It also softens up very easily, so you might have to stick it back in the freezer if it gets too sticky. Stamp out the cookies with a cookie cutter about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for nine to ten minutes, until the cookies look hardened and are fragrant. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.
While the cookies are cooling, make the chocolate coating. Melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler until glossy and smooth. It may seem thick at first, but give it time and it will smooth out and lighten. It might help to add a tablespoon or two of oil if the chocolate seems extra thick–the consistency of chocolate varies depending on the brand. Once melted and smooth, whisk in the peppermint oil. Drop in one cookie at a time, and using a fork, turn to coat with chocolate. When removing the cookie from the chocolate with a fork, tap the fork against the bowl to smooth out the top, and then place the coated cookies in the fridge or freezer to set. Keep the cookies in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat.
Can you blame me for being a little reluctant to give up these lazy, cozy nights and sunsets for a heavy douse of reality?
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