Hint o’ Mint Cookies

I love Thin Mints, and by “love” I mean I could easily plow through an entire sleeve of them in one sitting. Like many other cookie-craving Americans, I’d “help” out our local Girl Scouts by handing over enough dough for several boxes (so I could freeze them and enjoy them at will, naturally, or *cough* share them with friends and family. Yeah, sure.).

This cookie love affair came to an abrupt ending many moons ago when a.) my food allergies from hell ordered me into Thin Mint (and every other wheat-based and chocolate-coated dessert) exile and b.) when my bathroom scale groaned when I stepped on it, reminding me that Thin Mints were making me anything but thin (such product name trickery!).

Turns out, giving up my Thin Mints (and Tagalongs – those chocolate and peanut butter fat bombs) did far more for my health than just easing my allergy symptoms and loosening up my waistband. After really examining the ingredient list on the emerald green box, my once-favorite treats became a whole lot less appetizing. In case you haven’t braved the “nutritional” info on the side of the box, here’s what is in those seemingly harmless minty discs: Enriched flour (a giant no-no for anyone with MTHFR mutations due to the added folic acid – and no real friend to anyone’s health, by the way); sugar (lots of it); vegetable oil shortening (palm kernel and palm oils) – some of the worst oils, both for the body and the environment; cocoa (processed with alkali); caramel color (an increasingly researched carcinogen); high fructose corn syrup (some studies show our bodies handle this sweetener differently than table sugar, and its use is linked to obesity, type II diabetes, higher triglyceride levels, and heart disease); salt; baking soda; soy lecithin (government data suggest it’s possible for residual chemicals and pesticides to remain in soy lecithin after it’s manufactured); peppermint oil; natural and artificial flavor (whatever that means).

Now, ready for the GOOD NEWS?

You can still enjoy your delicious mint cookies, but without much of the guilt. I made these knockoffs for my mom’s birthday (she’s another former Thin Mint enthusiast) and they were a huge hit! This incarnation was surprisingly simple and fun to make. And the taste? D-I-V-I-N-E! I call these homemade versions Hint o’ Mints. They won’t make you thin and they’re certainly no health food, but they are far more natural, fresh and flavorful than the ones being stacked inside those plastic wrappers and cardboard boxes. Sign me up!

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Hint o’ Mint Cookies
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (if using convection oven, reduce to 325 degrees)
  2. To make the cookie dough, cream the butter in a mixer until fluffy. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix on low-medium speed until thoroughly blended (use a spatula to scrape the bowl’s sides and ensure the butter and sugar are thoroughly mixed). Add the vanilla extract, salt and cacao powder to the butter/sugar mix and cream together at low-medium speed until all ingredients are well blended (it will resemble frosting). With the blender on low, gradually add in the pastry flour and mix until the flour is just incorporated. IMPORTANT: Do not overmix the dough. The flour should be mixed in until it is no longer powdery, but the mixer should be shut off when the dough still has a slightly crumbly consistency. This is what will give the cookie centers their hallmark crispy center once baked.
  3. On a clean counter or marble slab board, work the dough into a ball until it just reaches a smooth consistency (again, avoid overworking!). Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap or a zipped storage bag and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  4. Roll the chilled dough onto unfloured counter or baking slab, to a thin 1/8” or so (the thinner the better, although cookies thinner than 1/8” can be difficult to keep from breaking when coating with chocolate). I find it is easier to roll out half the dough ball at a time.
  5. Use a small, round cookie cutter to cut out the cookies (I wanted mine roughly the same size as traditional Thin Mints, so I improvised and used a 1 ¼-inch lid from a vitamin container as my “cookie cutter.” It worked great and didn’t cost a dime.).
  6. Carefully lift the cookies with a very thin spatula or knife, and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet approximately one inch apart (these cookies don’t spread much, but you don’t want them to invade each other and ruin the circular shape, so give them some room).
  7. Bake on center rack for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tops are no longer doughy
  8. Allow to fully cool on wire racks (15 minutes or more)
  9. Prepare chocolate-peppermint coating: Melt the chocolate morsels on stove top over low heat (or place morsels in glass dish and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring in-between until the chocolate is completely melted and velvety smooth).
  10. Add the peppermint to the melted chocolate, tasting as you go to ensure you reach the desired level of minty chocolatiness (I go a smidgen more than I think I need because I love mint and the cacao cookie can handle a bit more, in my opinion).
  11. Using a large, flat fork, place each cooled cookie on the tines and carefully dip into the chocolate-peppermint coating. Gently turn the cookie, so top/bottom/sides are coated equally, and use a butter knife to remove any excess (you want a smooth, even coating on all sides – not so thin that the cookie shows underneath but not so thick that the cookie is drowning in chocolate). Be prepared: this part can get a little messy, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
  12. Place the coated cookies on another parchment lined cookie sheet and transfer the sheet (uncovered) to the freezer. Note: I have a chest freezer, which affords me more space; however, if you are short on freezer space, you can freeze small batches in covered containers. Just be sure not to stack your coated cookies atop one another until the chocolate is fully chilled. Once all cookies are chilled, you can place them in a container, with each level topped with a sheet of parchment paper to help absorb moisture and keep cookies from sticking together).
  13. For the ultimate dessert, spear a cookie on top of a scoop of organic ice cream or dip one (or two…or three!) into a glass of vanilla-almond milk (or whichever milk you prefer).
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2018-06-04T02:29:46+00:00

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