If I had to name one shining bright spot in the dreary, face-numbing, negative temperature marathon that is January it would be the fact that the Girl Scouts start to come around selling cookies (okay, that and watching "The Bachelor." But don’t tell).
The only trouble is, that's when the real wait begins. Those cookies aren’t arriving until March and I am left with visions of Thin Mints and Samoas dancing around in my head, giving me yet another reason to believe that the second half of winter exists solely to mock me.
So what better way to pass the time and hide from the cold than to figure out how to make them on my own?
Considering the arrival of my few precious boxes each spring normally brings out my most squirrel-like tendencies—hiding them in the freezer, parcelling them out so that they last as long as possible, getting inordinately territorial when anyone goes near them—it might benefit everyone involved if they were a little more accessible.
Very much like Oreos, the best part about Thin Mints is their perfectly engineered capacity to soak up milk. They are made to be dunked, and I knew that was exactly what I was looking for in my homemade version.
I played around with my favorite shortbread recipe until it was mega chocolatey and pepperminty, with the exact crisp and slightly crumbly texture that I remember from years of Girl Scout cookie eating research.
Then, they get dipped in chocolate, which is where the real magic happens. Often, the chocolate on Thin Mints tends to be a little waxy and not all that flavorful. By making them at home, you can use as dark or high-quality chocolate as you want, making them a slightly more grown-up version of the classic. Plus, you can control the amount of peppermint—which, in my case, is no control at all. Just add the whole bottle, please and thank you.
For the cookies:
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract (or more/less depending on your taste)
Preheat the oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the peppermint extract, mixing to combine. In two additions, add the flour-cocoa mixture to the butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Beat until just combined and still slightly crumbly. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten slightly, and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill for 30 minutes.
After the dough has chilled, roll it out on a well-floured surface to 1/4-inch thick.
Cut the dough using a small round cutter (if you want to go true Thin Mint, go for one with fluted edges). Gather scraps and reroll, adding more flour if necessary. You should get about two dozen small cookies.
Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes.
Allow them to cool completely on pans. They will seem very crumbly when you pull them out of the oven but will firm up as they cool.
After cookies have cooled, melt chocolate in a double boiler (or in the microwave, or under a hair-dryer!) until smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract, to taste.
Using a fork, dip cookies in chocolate, coating both sides and allowing excess to drip off.
Place on a wire baking rack to dry and then store in an airtight container for up to one week.
What's your favorite Girl Scout cookie? Let us know in the comments below!