Feb 7, 2011 Cooking & Baking
This was definitely the most labor-intensive and annoying (and, in a way, unsuccessful) step in my quest for the perfect homemade Thin Mint cookie. Friday night I made the dough, and Saturday morning I baked it all up. The rest of Saturday was spent making a chocolaty mess. I mean, I did other things too, but I fit those things in while waiting for chocolate to harden.
I decided to coat the five different versions of the mint cookie with two different kinds of melted chocolate: an easy, cheap kind and a more difficult, more expensive kind (guess which one I was hoping would taste better?)
Chocolate chips and butter
For the first bunch I melted 10 ounces of Nestle chocolate chips with a stick of butter. I started off dipping the cookies using two forks, but that wasn’t really working, and I have a chocolate-covered sweatshirt to prove it. Then I switched to a pair of tongs, which was better for three reasons: 1) I could shake more of the chocolate off, 2) I wasn’t dropping cookies all over the place, and 3) each cookie got a neat little triangular “signature” from where the tongs were gripping. If I ever open my own cookie company (not likely) it will be my logo.
The thing about using chocolate chips for dipping is that they have additives that make them hold their shape at higher temperatures, which makes the finished product not as durable – it’s harder to get them to harden, and they get sticky if not refrigerated. But they taste really good.
Tempered Scharffen Berger
The second bunch got the gourmet treatment: I tempered a pound of Scharffen Berger chocolate. Tempering chocolate is an annoying process that involves chopping the chocolate into little pieces, warming half of it slowly to 115 degrees, then removing it from the heat source and adding the other half of the chocolate. Then, you stir. Vigorously. For a long time. Until the chocolate cools back down to about 88 degrees. It takes about fifteen minutes of stirring. If your arms aren’t aching at the end you haven’t done it right. Even if they do ache, you might not have done it right, because tempering chocolate is difficult to get right.
So why do it? Because you end up with the kind of shiny chocolate that you see in chocolate shops. It resists fingerprints, it sets quickly without having to be refrigerated, and it stores well in an airtight container on the counter.
One thing that makes tempering easier is my combo spatula/candy thermometer. It gives me a constant read of the temp, and I don’t have to make a mess taking something in and out of the chocolate repeatedly.
After all of this work, after tasting five different kinds of cookies then ten different kinds of chocolate-coated cookies, the results were…meh. I mean, at the end of the day, chocolate covered cookies are all good. But none of these tasted like Thin Mints. For one thing, they need way more mint. I’m thinking of doubling the amount of mint in the cookie dough, and adding some to the chocolate as well.
But even with more mint, they’re just not right. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the problem is, but I think it’s that the chocolate is too thick. I don’t have enough experience working with chocolate to really know how to solve this, so if you have any suggestions please let me know. I think ultimately it may involve using the chocolate chips mixed with some kind of oil. I’d much rather find a way to thin the tempered chocolate – it does taste better and the finished product is just easier to store – but all the googling I could handle tonight didn’t tell me how to make it thinner without un-tempering it.
The taste test isn’t really over, because so far I’m the only one who’s tasted these, and after a while they all started to taste the same. I need to have other people weigh in, then I’ll take the favorite and try to refine it.
What I learned
There’s absolutely no reason to taste test the cookies before dipping them in chocolate. The texture and taste totally changed when coated it chocolate.
While I’m sure that in the end I’ll have a decent mint cookie recipe, I’m now convinced that they will be a poor substitute for the real thing.
Speaking of the real thing, if you like Girl Scout Thin Mints, and you have extra freezer space, buy as many as you can whenever you have the chance.
And last, someone with hypoglycemia should not plan on doing cookie taste tests all by herself.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.