Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Cookie for All Seasons

Everyone has their share of family legends. Mine is no exception. A curious number of our family stories involve food.

Take the one about my dad and the Girl Scout cookies.

In the early 1980's, when my sister and I were very young, our parents purchased my father's childhood home in Texas. In my heart, it is my childhood home, too, although my family moved to the brighter lights of Dallas before I was nine. My sister and I would unearth little plastic Army Men figures in the backyard, forgotten there by our father and his siblings in the early 1950's. We played hide and seek under huge oaks in the acre of land surrounding the house, and jumped in big leaf piles in the fall.

One spring day, a pair of Girl Scouts walked up our long gravel driveway under the tall oaks and knocked on our front door. The customer of their dreams answered. An individual who knows a good cookie when he sees one, and has an unrestrained sweet tooth.

My dad.

He filled out an order form and the Girl Scouts walked down our gravel driveway, smiling. A few weeks passed and the Girl Scouts returned, pulling a red Radio Flyer wagon that was stacked with boxes of Thin Mints, Jubilees, and Shortbreads. They knocked on our front door.

My mother answered.

I'm not sure what words were exchanged between my parents later on, but I do know that we were flush with Girl Scout cookies through August.

The next year, the Girl Scouts returned. They walked up our long gravel driveway with their order form and knocked on our front door.

My mother answered.

These Girl Scouts were no dummies. Seeing my mom, they slid each other a long, entrepreneurial look before speaking.

"Mrs. Ross, is Mr. Ross home?"

Chocolate Mint Cookies
Adapted from this recipe from Bon Appetit

When Girl Scout cookies are in season, naturally, I purchase a fair number of boxes (I am very much my father's daughter in this regard). Since cookie season comes but once a year, however, I had to try out this recipe for those other eleven "off" months. It's not a Thin Mint, but it's got that peppermint-y, chocolate-y lusciousness that I love.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Beat the butter in large bowl until smooth, then beat in the peppermint extract and the vanilla extract. Beat in the sugar in 3 additions. Add the egg and beat until blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat just until blended (the dough will be sticky).

Divide the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Form each piece of dough into a 2-inch-diameter log. Wrap the dough log with plastic and place in the freezer for 30 minutes until well chilled.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the cookie dough logs; roll briefly on work surface to form smooth round logs. Cut the logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place the rounds on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.

Bake the cookies until tops and edges are dry to touch, about 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool.

Meanwhile, add the chopped chocolate to a double boiler. Stir the chocolate until it is melted and smooth. Remove the chocolate from the heat and cool until slightly thickened but still pourable, about 2 minutes. Dip a spatula into the melted chocolate, then drizzle over the cookies.

Refrigerate cookies on baking sheets until chocolate is set, about 10 minutes.

Makes: about 3 dozen small cookies


Krysta said...

I love, love, love thin mints, well actually all girl scout cookies except for those low fat ones! I can eat a whole box in one sitting.

Sarah said...

As could I! I believe that having a good Girl Scout cookie connection is as necessary as electricity!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Great story! That's how it is at our house too. All the neighborhood kids know that my husband is a big softie.

Love the cookies! They would go over big here, although my personal faves are the Samoas.

muddywaters said...

I love the story. It's amazing how food conjures up these memories. Great foods, like great family snapshots, have the ability to transport us back in time. This entry is a testament to that power. Food is more than food.

I hope I'm as successful at capturing some of my family's food memories.