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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Homemade Thin Mint Cookies (GF)

I {big, puffy heart} love Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies! The thin, crunchy cookie. The pepperminty flavor that stays in my mouth long after the cookies have made their way to my tummy. The chocolate on top of more chocolate. Is there really a better way to eat them than frozen? Definitely not!

Back in January, like many others, I began getting the 247 daily Facebook status updates from the Brownie and Girl Scout moms...trying to help their little princesses reach their cookie sales goals. (Well, maybe not quite that many. Ha ha!) Back in the day, I would have bought 3 or 4 boxes. I would have stashed them in the freezer and tried to make them last until Easter. I would have filled my body with partially hydrogenated oils and loads of refined sugar. But that was then...and this is now. The health-conscious me refuses to consume the evil chocolate demons until those naive Little Brownie Bakers (check the box...that's the real company name!) stop using trans fat in their delicious cookies. Enough ranting...it's time to start baking. 

In my opinion, the only way to get yummy, guilt-free, real food (year round!) is to make it yourself. That's exactly what I did. After some internet searching, Pinterest browsing and experimenting--I came up with a pretty spot-on recipe that would give the Girl Scouts a run for their money. My husband said these were unbelievable (he is a hard core Thin Mint fan!) and my son gave them 100 thumbs up. Ha!

For the cookies you will need honey, oat flour, cocoa powder, butter or coconut oil, salt, and peppermint oil or extract. Mix all of the ingredients until well combined and refrigerate the dough, as you would sugar cookies. Roll out the dough to the thickness of a graham cracker. These are thin mint cookies...not thick mint cookies. :)

I have tried two different methods of rolling the cookies out, including the flour-the-counter and transfer-to-a-cookie-sheet method, and I will tell you that using parchment paper is the only way to go! Begin by tearing off a sheet of parchment paper slightly bigger than your cookie sheet. Here's a tip for you! Place a portion of the parchment paper over the edge of the counter and use your body to firmly hold it in place. That way when you begin rolling out your dough away from you, the parchment doesn't scoot all over the place. 

I used a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter on my cookies, because that is all I had, other than a tiny one inch cookie cutter that seemed way too small. I figured when choosing between a "too big" cookie and a "too small" cookie--it was best to go big. Right? I would guess the original Thin Mints to be around 1 1/2 inches in diameter if you want an exact replica.

These cookies don't really spread at all when baking. Cut them and then remove the extra dough from around the cookies by gently peeling it away. You do not need to move or rearrange the cookies at this point. Simply place the parchment paper and dough onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Reroll the scrap dough using the same method and continue until all cookies have been cut out and baked.

Thin Mint cookies have a distinct "crunch" when you bite them and to get that crunchy factor, you want these to be thoroughly baked until the edges are dry to the touch and they are very matte looking. They may have some small bubbles that come to the surface while baking, which will be hidden by the chocolate when they are dipped. Keep an eye on them! They will go from "done" to "burnt" in a matter of 2 minutes. Depending on the thickness, they should take between 8-10 minutes in a standard 350 degree oven. Start checking them at 6 minutes and every minute or so until they are done. Mine were slightly soft, but hardened as they cooled.

While your cookies are in the oven, go ahead and begin melting your chocolate. I did mine in the microwave, but I have also placed a glass bowl into a shallow pan of water on the stove (being careful to keep water out of the chocolate!) or in a double boiler. Chocolate must be melted at a very low temperature and stirred frequently to avoid scorching. You will add 1/8 t. of peppermint oil, or 1/2 t. extract, to the semi-sweet or dark chocolate to give it that perfect minty flavor.

Peppermint oil can most likely be found with the candy making supplies of your local craft store. People use oils for flavoring hard tack and other candies because it is 4 times more concentrated and blends easier into things like chocolate. I have not personally used peppermint extract (alcohol and peppermint oil) and cannot attest to how it would blend with the chocolate; however, other recipes I looked at called for extract and claimed that it worked just fine.

If your chocolate is too thick, you can add a bit of coconut oil or non-hydrogenated palm shortening (Spectrum brand is available at both our Kroger and Meijer stores). Begin with 1 teaspoon and add up to 3 teaspoons if required. If the chocolate begins to thicken up while you are dipping your cookies, you will need to reheat it. Use a fork to dip the cookies down into the melted chocolate and then wipe some of the excess off the top with a knife or the back of a spoon. You are going for a very thin coating of chocolate on these. Tap off the extra chocolate back into the bowl and drag the fork across the edge to remove any remaining drips. Carefully place cookies onto waxed or parchment paper and allow to set up. This process can be sped up by putting them in the freezer for a few minutes.

Pour yourself a glass of milk and chow down! My family insists on eating these frozen and I agree they are at their yummiest in a frozen state. However you like to eat your Thin Mints, please make sure you come back and let me know how you liked them!

Thin Mint Cookies (GF)

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies (2 1/2 in.)

For the cookies:
1/4 c. unsalted butter or coconut oil, softened
1/3 c. honey
3-4 drops of peppermint oil or 1/8 t. peppermint extract
1/4 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/8 t. salt
1 c. oat flour* (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour would also work)

For the chocolate coating:
12 oz. good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate**
1-3 t. coconut oil or palm shortening (if needed)
1/8 t. peppermint oil or 1/2 t. peppermint extract

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the softened butter or coconut oil, honey and peppermint oil/extract. Gradually add the cocoa powder, salt and flour. Mix until the dough comes together and place the covered bowl into the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours to chill.

2. Roll out half the dough at a time to the thickness of a graham cracker on floured parchment paper. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out the cookies leaving them on the parchment. Remove the excess dough from around the cut cookies and reroll onto a new sheet of parchment paper. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

3. Place the cut cookies and parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Bake until cookies are firm around the edge and matte in appearance. Watch them carefully, as it is hard to tell when they are burning due to their chocolate color.

4. Allow the cookies to cool completely. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals or on the stove top in a double boiler at low heat. Alternately, use a glass bowl placed inside a shallow pan filled with water. (Do not permit water to come into contact with melted chocolate!) Stir frequently. Add peppermint oil/extract to the melted chocolate and stir. If the melted chocolate still seems too thick to dip your cookies, add between 1-3 teaspoons of coconut oil or palm shortening to thin.

5. One at a time, dip the cooled cookies into the melted chocolate and using a fork. Scrape some of the excess chocolate from the top of the cookie with the back of a spoon or a knife. Tap gently and drag the cookie across the side of the bowl to remove extra chocolate drips. Place dipped cookies onto a clean piece of parchment paper and allow to dry completely. (This can be sped up by placing cookies in the freezer for a few minutes.) If the chocolate thickens up while dipping your cookies, reheat until it returns to dipping consistency.

*Make your own oat flour by placing rolled oats into a blender or food processor and grinding until you get a fine powder.

**To make this dairy-free or vegan, use Enjoy Life! brand chocolate chips (or other dairy-free chocolate).
To make this paleo friendly, you could use a 100% cacao baking chocolate (but that might be very bitter!). You might be able to add a bit of powdered stevia or experiment with another type of sweetener or just eat the cookies plain.


No-Guilt Chocolate Chip
Cookies (GF)
Fudgy Almond Flour
Brownies (GF)

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