Legal Quandary

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Thin(ish) Mints

I have been a cooking and baking fool lately.

As I mentioned, Mr. Q's sister was here on Spring Break last week. Although I have given up on trying to clean the house for visitors, I somehow still feel compelled to cook for them. A small sampling of what we've been eating in the Quandary house…

Wednesday - Homemade Chicken Alphabet soup (quite possibly my best batch ever)
Thursday - Pork Tenderloin Medallions w/ homemade Spaetzle (German Egg Noodles) and asparagus
Friday - Brunch: Crepes filled with Strawberries and Raspberries and Vanilla Cream. Dinner: Salsa Bean Soup (also homemade, but frozen)
Saturday - French Onion soup. Made from scratch that morning. Popular restaurant adaptations to the contrary, French Onion Soup is NOT just a salty beef broth with some onions thrown in. I serve it with homemade croutons - and topped with lots of Jarlsberg cheese. Paired with a super fantabulous salad topped with a variety of vegetables and glazed walnuts.
Sunday - I was lazy about the main course, but made crepes again for dessert.

Sunday was also baking day. EC is in a play this coming Friday and Saturday. Stupid law school gets in the way of me volunteering for anything else, so I said I'd bring treats to be sold at intermission. (Does anyone else remember the days when everyone would just bring stuff to share and it wasn't all about trying to make money off the kids???)

I made about 4 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies and another 6 dozen oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the play. The frozen and pre-formed dough is now safely stored away in the freezer waiting to be baked up fresh on the day of each performance.

I also experimented with some homemade Thin Mints. I love Thin Mints. I hate that they're 1) only available for a limited time every year, 2) chock full of trans fat, and 3) on the expensive side. And yes, I know that Keebler Grasshopper cookies are an acceptable substitute. But see point 2 above. Plus, I wanted to see if I could make them myself - so I found myself a recipe on the internet and gave it a shot.

The verdict? Not bad. I modified the recipe slightly in that I used regular grocery store ingredients instead of the all natural, organic stuff. So regular powdered sugar, Hershey's cocoa, regular unsalted butter, and Nestle Toll House chocolate chips. I had to venture to Whole Foods for the Peppermint Extract, but there was just no way I was going to use $8/box Droste cocoa in experimental cookies. I did use the whole wheat pastry flour - I happened to have it in the house - but substituted about half of it with all purpose flour and will probably ditch the whole wheat in future attempts. It's just too gritty.

Rolling the dough out thin while it was warm and then freezing it seemed to work well - instead of the opposite way she suggested. The bonus to this I could get the dough pretty thin (though too thin isn't good either - the cookies will crumble during the dipping process), and then the cut cookies are easier to handle when they're semi-solid. It worked so well that I'll probably adopt this method for regular sugar cookies too.

Dipping the cookies was probably the hardest - and definitely the messiest part. I'm going to have to experiment with either a different (read - more expensive) type of chocolate or with a way to keep it warmer throughout the dipping process. Other than adding a few teaspoons of shortening, I don't know how else to make it thinner, but so it will still set when cool. (But see point 2 again.) After playing with it for awhile, I came up with a technique where I scraped most of the chocolate off the top and bottom, and then bounced the cookies on a fork so most of the chocolate ran off the sides. Even so, some of the cookies were a little funky looking.

End result - pretty good, but I'll continue to tweak. I thought they were much better after they'd had a day or two in the freezer to cure. (They looked better once they were off the baking sheet too.) Mr. Q said he had a hard time not eating the whole tray of them when he was "cleaning up" the broken ones.
So the Girl Scouts' sales are safe. For now.

I know it's totally unorthodox, but Alton Brown suggests wrapping your bowl of melted chocolate in a heating pad. (I think he puts the heating pad in a bowl, then covers it with a tea towel, and then puts his chocolate bowl on top.) You can set it on "low" to keep it warm without it getting too hot, and just stir it every now and then to keep the heat uniform.

But boy those Thin Mints sound AWESOME.
concerning PJs (this is daughter) i think you should allow it if the school does. you do make a good point though. but there is an age difference between you and your daughter that (in my opinion) makes it acceptable. by the way those cookie thingys look tasty! i wish i baked!
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