Over the years, Girl Scout Cookies have become an iconic American food — right up there with apple pie, blueberry cobbler and doughnuts.
From the moment the Scouts start taking cookie orders on Jan. 1 until delivery begins on Feb. 14, we anticipate our chewy Samoas, cool chocolate-y Thin Mints and dunkable Do-si-dos. The signature purple, green and orange boxes are recognizable, stackable and highly coveted.
So why mess with a classic?
That was my first reaction when the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta approached me, through their PR firm, about cooking with Girl Scout Cookies. Aren’t buttery shortbread Trefoils, sweet lemony Savannah Smiles and crispy, peanut-butter-filled, chocolate-enrobed Tagalongs good enough on their own?
But then I started to look at the recipes and dream about all the things a clever person might create using Girl Scout Cookies as an ingredient.
After all, cookies are malleable by nature — easy to crush, press and sprinkle.
They make excellent crumb crusts for pies and cheesecakes. They can be crumbled, layered with custard, cream and berries to make trifle … used to build pudding and tiramisu … or scattered atop dessert pizzas.
And it doesn’t take a culinary genius to smash cookies over ice cream, whip them into frothy kid-friendly milkshakes, or stir up sweet, boozy after-dinner cocktails.
So consider adding Thin Mints to your favorite brownie recipe. Or using Trefoils or Thin Mints as the base for bourbon balls. Or substituting Savannah Smiles for graham crackers to make a crust for lemon icebox or coconut cream pie.
Shy about baking? Then shake up a drinkable dessert. It’s as easy as dolloping ice cream in a glass, dousing with Baileys and garnishing with Samoas.
If you love a sweet-salty combo, coat shrimp or chicken with crumbled Samoas for coconut crunch. Or chop Samoas and toss with nuts, raisins and dried fruit to make trail mix. I’ve even seen recipes for raviolis filled with shrimp, ricotta, goat cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, chives and Savannah Smiles.
As I write this story, I am snacking on leftovers from my Noodle Salad With Samoa-Encrusted Chicken Tenders.
While many Asian noodle salads call for sliced chicken breast, this one gilds the lily by coating the chicken in a breading made of Samoas, almonds, panko crumbs, spicy mustard and tongue-tingling Szechuan pepper. The chicken is served with cool rice noodles flecked with red bell peppers, jicama, cilantro, mint, almonds, oranges and a few more crumbled Samoas for crunch. I like to pep up the dressing with salty fish sauce and finish the salad with a few squirts of Sriracha. May sound weird, but it works.
Any kid (including the one in you) will love the Chocolate Cupcakes with Do-si-do Crust, Peanut Butter Ganache and Tagalongs. These mini-cheesecakes deliver peanut butter three ways: There’s the Do-si-do base, a cocoa-cheesecake interior slathered with peanut-butter cream, and half a Tagalong on top. The Tagalongs make the cupcakes look like fascinator hats. How cute is that?
I probably had the most fun playing around with Girl Scout Cookie milkshakes for the 21-and-older crowd.
The Gin Mint — a blend of vanilla ice cream, Thin Mints, gin, creme de cacao, creme de menthe and fistful of fresh mint leaves — is a cool palliative that will change the minds of non-gin drinkers. Once you take a swig, there’s no telling what kind of Girl Scout Cookie creations you’ll come up with.
Here are three recipes using Girl Scout Cookies as an ingredient. The cupcakes are a chocolate-and-peanut-butter lover’s dream. The noodle salad is a nicely balanced full-meal dish. The slushy Gin Mint shake is for the 21-and-older crowd only. And don’t worry if you failed to pre-order cookies: The Girls Scouts of Greater Atlanta will be out in full force beginning Feb. 14. If you need help finding cookies, check out the cookie locator website: showmethecookies.com. You may also download a free cookie-locator app from iTunes or Google Play.
Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes With Do-si-do Crust, Peanut Butter Ganache and Tagalongs
Hands on: 3o minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Makes: 24 cupcakes
Unless you are planning on a crowd, you might want to halve this recipe. Another thought: bake and freeze half the cupcakes and frost them when ready to serve.
For the cupcakes:
20 Do-si-dos (1 box)
1/2 cup butter, softened, divided
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the ganache:
12 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups creamy peanut butter (use regular, not natural)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
12 Tagalongs, cut in half
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line two standard (12-cup) muffin tins with cupcake liners.
To make the crust: Place Do-si-dos and 1/4 cup of the softened butter in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press 1 scant tablespoon of crumbs into the bottom of each cup to form a crust. Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, press the crumb mixture to make it smooth. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned.
To make the cheesecake filling: Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter, and stir in the cocoa until well combined. Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the cocoa-butter mixture. Gradually mix in the sweetened condensed milk. Lightly mix the eggs and vanilla; then add to the cream cheese mixture, and mix until smooth. Spoon into the cups using a 1/4-cup measure. (The cups should be about 3/4 full.) Bake 35-40 minutes, or until set. Cool.
To make the ganache: Beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar with a mixer on medium speed. Add salt, then peanut butter, then vanilla. Add the cream and blend well. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Once the cupcakes are cooled, cover with ganache, using a pastry tube, a plastic bag with the corner cut out or a knife. Place half a Tagalong cookie in the center of each cupcake. Chill the cupcakes until ready to serve.
— Adapted from a recipe by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington
Per cupcake: 501 calories (percent of calories from fat, 67), 12 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 39 grams fat (19 grams saturated), 100 milligrams cholesterol, 448 milligrams sodium.
Noodle Salad With Samoa-Encrusted Chicken Tenders
Hands on: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
The mustard and pepper tamp down the chocolate-y sweetness of the Samoas. Still, I like to perk up the salad with Sriracha and fish sauce, both of which can be set out on the table so that everyone can add to taste. Peanuts, which are traditional with Asian noodles, could be substituted for almonds.
For the chicken:
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
1 pound chicken tenderloins
1/3 cup spicy brown mustard
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 Serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional)
Squirt of Sriracha sauce (optional)
For the salad:
8 ounces rice stick noodles
1 cup red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup jicama, julienned
1 orange, cut into segments
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons mint, roughly chopped
2 Samoas, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons toasted almonds, roughly chopped
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment; set a cooling rack on top of the baking sheet.
Pulse Samoas and almonds in a food processor (separately) until coarsely ground. Combine Samoas, almonds, breadcrumbs, Szechuan pepper, cayenne pepper and salt in a bowl. Coat chicken tenders with spicy brown mustard. Press the tenders into the breading and place on top of the rack on the baking sheet.
Bake the chicken tenders for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
While the chicken tenders are baking, cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, spicy brown mustard, Serrano chile, vegetable oil, fish sauce (if using) and Sriracha (if using). Taste to adjust for seasonings. Add noodles to the dressing and toss gently to combine. Scatter the red bell pepper, jicama and orange segments on top. Next sprinkle on the chopped cilantro, the mint, the chopped Samoas and the almonds. Then arrange the chicken tenders around the side. Serve.
— Adapted from a recipe by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington
Per serving: 504 calories (percent of calories from fat, 31), 23 grams protein, 66 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 45 milligrams cholesterol, 360 milligrams sodium.
The Gin Mint
Hands on: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 drink
4 large scoops (about 2 cups) vanilla ice cream
1 ounce gin
1 ounce creme de menthe
1/2 ounce creme de cacao (or more to taste)
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
4 Thin Mints, plus more for garnish
Mint sprig for garnish
Place ice cream, gin, creme de menthe, creme de cacao and fresh mint in a blender. Gently crush the Thin Mints with your fingers, and add to the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve, garnishing with a mint sprig and additional Thin Mints as desired.
Per drink, using 2 cups ice cream: 932 calories (percent of calories from fat, 41), 12 grams protein, 105 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 36 grams fat (23 grams saturated), 116 milligrams cholesterol, 332 milligrams sodium.