I should probably not be confessing this during Girl Scout cookie season, but I was nearly kicked out of Brownies. There was a ceremony — a big deal, supposedly, where you cross a fake bridge into Girl Scout-land — and I had to sit in the corner while the other 9-year-olds practiced the bridge walk. I think I got in trouble for talking.
I wanted to be a Girl Scout. I sold tons of cookies — the most in my troop — as a Brownie (OK, my dad bought most of them). I loved the idea of collecting the most badges and of wearing them across my chest like a prize ribbon at the fair. But as I sat in the auditorium at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School that afternoon and listened to the Girl Scout leader discuss the merits of trading in my brown dress for a green one, I just couldn’t do it. That bridge had not only not been crossed, it had been burned.
Cookie season always reminds me of this. Sure, it still stings a little, but over the past 30, 40 years or so, I’ve developed a reliable coping strategy: a few boxes of Peanut Butter Patties (aka “Tagalongs”), stashed in my freezer, eaten in twos and threes, until the next six-week selling season rolls around again.
I might as well tell you, these cookies that remind me of Reese’s peanut butter cups are my favorites. They are not just fine on their own — they are fabulous! As are many of the other varieties.
But this year, I challenged myself to come up with recipes using Girl Scout cookies. And I love a challenge, especially one that involves cookies. There’s no sew-on badge for my efforts, but these resulting sweet treats — a raspberry tart, peanut butter blondies, mint ice cream and apple-cranberry crisp — are reward enough.
THREE-INGREDIENT RASPBERRY TART
Yield: Makes 1 (11-inch) tart
1 (9-ounce) box Trefoils shortbread cookies
1 stick butter, softened
½ cup raspberry jam
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the cookies in the food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture comes together. Press into a tart shell and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly firm and browned. Let cool completely.
Spread the raspberry jam into the tart shell, sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar and serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 10: 246 calories, 14 grams fat, 31 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 205 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 49 percent of calories from fat.
PEANUT BUTTER BLONDIES WITH PEANUT BUTTER PATTIES
Yield: Serves 16
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup smooth peanut butter, such as Skippy
8 Tagalong Peanut Butter Patties, crushed
Line an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with parchment or foil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sea salt and flour. Set this aside.
Put the melted butter, brown sugar and peanut butter in the mixer bowl and combine. Add the egg and beat until the color changes to light yellow - a few minutes on high will do it.
Add the flour mixture and gently mix. Fold in the crushed cookies.
Pour into the pan and slide into the oven. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the edges brown. Be sure not to overcook; err on the side of under- rather than overcooking. (Gooey is gooooood.) Serve right away.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 198 calories, 12 grams fat, 20 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 29 milligrams cholesterol, 188 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 53 percent of calories from fat.
MINT ICE CREAM WITH THIN MINTS
Yield: Makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup cream
5 egg yolks
10 Thin Mint cookies, crushed
Warm the milk, sugar and mint leaves in a saucepan over medium heat.
Pour the cream in a bowl with a colander on top.
When the milk mixture is hot and steaming, turn off the heat, cover and let steep for an hour. Remove the mint leaves, then reheat the milk over medium heat again.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
Pour a little bit of the warmed milk into the egg yolks and whisk continuously, then add a little bit more of the warmed milk until the yolks are warmed through (be careful not to add too much of the hot milk, as it might scramble the eggs). Add the yolk and milk mixture to the saucepan. Stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour through the colander, mix with the cream and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled.
Churn the ice cream according to the ice cream maker’s instructions. Add the crushed Thin Mints to the container you will be pouring the ice cream into. Add the ice cream and stir so that the cookies are evenly distributed, then pop into the freezer until firm.
Nutritional analysis per 1/2-cup serving: 272 calories, 15 grams fat, 30 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 167 milligrams cholesterol, 82 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 49 percent of calories from fat.