Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homemade Thin Mints

I saw some photos of homemade thin mints over at Lisa Is Cooking, and have been meaning to make them since. Problem is, Lisa has a great policy and refuses to publish already-published-recipes unless she actually changes them enough to justify it. Kudos, to Lisa, for making sure she's being legal. (By the way, I feel confident that I am posting recipes within legal bounds). But, that made it harder for me. I didn't have a great way of tracking down the recipe she used! So I put it off.

Then on Friday, it was my neighbor's ten-year-old daughter's birthday. We're good friends, so I wanted to make sure we did something for her. But what do you do for a ten-year-old? Really. Then, as I brainstormed all kinds of fun treats she would appreciate, it hit me. The other day, she had been BEGGING her mom for some thin mints. Her mom said no...so I figured it would be a perfect treat to make her some thin mints! (Consequently, I forgot until I was in the midst of dipping them, that my friend had told her no not because they didn't have any, but because she didn't want to open them. They are like Pringles, after all--betcha can't eat just one!)


Thus began my quest. I found a recipe, thanks to the comments section at Lisa's, on 101cookbooks.com. I altered this recipe very little, really by just not using organic ingredients or fancy flour. And they worked out well. They tasted delicious, and were just a little bit too delicate. But the texture while you ate them was perfect...the delicacy just made them difficult to dip. I wonder if using some shortening would help; Heidi alludes to avoiding shortening in her post, and I suspect it's more in the name of using more natural ingredients than in producing a better product, which is fine; everyone has different priorities.

Consequently, when we delivered them, my friend had taken her daughter out to dinner, so we hung out with her husband and their other three children for a little while until they got back. Her husband snuck a cookie while we waited (we told the other girls we had to wait for the birthday girl) and he thought they were amazing.


Homemade Thin Mints
Adapted from 101cookbooks.com
Printable Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for rolling out
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 pound chocolate, for dipping. Heidi recommended good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, I used Trader Joe's Pound Plus Milk Chocolate, and in the future I will use plain-old chocolate almond bark.
peppermint extract (you'll need to taste as you go; all extracts are different strengths, making it difficult to list an amount, and you may prefer your chocolate more or less minty)

Cream the butter until it's light and fluffy, then add the powdered sugar. Cream until it is light and fluffy (start it slow so you don't get a face full of powder). Add the vanilla and mix. Add the cocoa and salt (and again, starting slowly), mix until it's incorporated. At this point, it should resemble THICK chocolate frosting. (Think: a can of store-bought frosting that has been in the refrigerator.). Add the flour and mix just until it's mixed in. Do not overmix. Turn out onto a piece of saran wrap and mush together. It's okay if it's dry and clumpy. Mash it together into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap the saran wrap around it and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.

Turn the dough out onto a clean workspace dusted with powdered sugar. Dust a rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thick. They won't rise much in the oven, so the thickness you roll is the thickness you get. Cut out with a cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, or slice into squares with a pizza cutter. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.

When the cookies have cooled thoroughly (it will make them easier to dip!), melt the chocolate slowly in a double boiler. If you are using coating chocolate or almond bark, don't worry about it, and follow the directions on the package, which probably say to melt in the microwave at 50% power. When the chocolate is melted, stir in the peppermint extract and taste. Add it gradually!

Allow the chocolate to cool. This will help it dry better on the cookies. Once it is a comfortable temperature (about body temperature) dip the cookies carefully. I used two forks. Try to get as little chocolate on them as possible, but do not bang the forks on the side of the bowl too hard; I had many cookies break this way! Let the covered cookies dry on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

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