Khaki Wishes and Cookie Dreams

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I was never a Girl Scout. In lieu of those activities, my mom encouraged me take ballet and tap dance classes, piano lessons and vocal coaching. I was a bit of a singer/dancer as a child, taking any chance I could to steal the limelight to sing in front of an audience (large or small). I loved singing and dancing so much that I didn’t miss or even notice the other activities I could’ve been doing with other kids my age. It wasn’t until I was about 12 years old when I first saw Troop Beverly Hills, a movie about a group of Wilderness Girls from the 90210, led by the fierce (and amazingly dressed) Shelley Long.

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Troop Beverly Hills is one of my favorite movies, and after re-watching it in my 20s I immediately recognized one of my favorite artists, a young Jenny Lewis. In fact, the movie is flooded with young stars you may recognize.

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Looking back, I kind of wish I would’ve been a Wilderness Girl, just so that I could sing the “Cookie Time” song.

So right now (with all of my social media channels flooded with posts of Girl Scout cookies) I’m craving Thin Mints so very much. But no such luck on finding any Girl Scout cookie sales booths. Being the proactive and slightly impatient person that I am, I decided to create my own. The resulting recipe is vegan-optional (if you choose to use margarine instead of butter) and has a very subtle coconut flavor. ‘Cause mint and coconut go together like khaki and green, right? I’m calling ’em “Thick Mints” for obvious reasons.

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Homemade Thick Mints
Recipe slightly adapted from BakingBites.com
Yields about 2 1/2 dozen

INGREDIENTS
For the cookies:
8 ounces butter (or margarine)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup rice flour (I used Mochiko)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour

For the dipping chocolate:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
1/8 cup canola oil

METHOD
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter (or margarine) and sugar till fully incorporated. Stir in the salt, extracts, coconut milk and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter looks like chocolate frosting. Add the flours and mix till just combined, making sure to not over-mix.

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Form the dough into a cylinder-like roll (think rolling pin-sized). Wrap the dough completely in Saran or other plastic wrap tightly. Place the dough into the freezer for at least 3 hours or overnight.

After properly resting, remove dough from the freezer and carefully discard plastic wrap. Using a sharp serrated knife cut dough into 1/2-inch discs, slowly cutting so as to not break the dough.

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Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack, about 5 minutes.

While the cookies bake, make the peppermint coating. Heat a sauce pot of water till boiling. Place the baking chocolate into a heat-resistant bowl over the boiling water, making sure not to get water  into the chocolate.

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(Cook’s Note: I have read recipes online instructing to place chocolate into a microwave. Please, I repeat, please don’t do that. Heating chocolate in the microwave will oftentimes scorch it. Chocolate is a temperamental food that needs to be treated carefully. On that note, please don’t ever heat chocolate over a direct flame. Melting chocolate over a double-boiler creates a more controllable heat source.)

Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the peppermint extract. Then slowly add in the oil to thin it out.

Slowly drop the cookies into the melted chocolate. Turn to coat the cookies entirely, then lift the cookie out of the chocolate with a rubber spatula.

Place the dipped cookies onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Place the cookies in the freezer to set for at least an hour, preferably overnight if you’re patient!

Now it’s “cookie time, it’s cookie time, it’s cookie time!”

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots are property of Weintraub Entertainment Group)

A Fine Farewell

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I first made these rasta-style popsicles last year as a surprise farewell treat for my sweet roommate and friend, Gina, who was moving out of our Oakland abode for an amazing teaching job. The popsicles were devoured after we had yummy Shan Dong take-out while watching Cry Baby. (Perfect night in, right?) She and her circle of friends from college started photographing every collective red, yellow and green sighting on their Instagram accounts and hashtagging them with “#jahworksinmysteriousways.” (And it turned out that the clever man who coined that hashtag is now my current roommate, Brian.) So I thought it would be a cute (and tasty!) idea to make her these vegan “Jahsicles.” I later posted a pic of the popsicles on my personal Instagram account and it became the 300th #jahworksinmysteriousways post! Next level! (The hashtag has more than 500 posts to date.)

How fitting is it that while I type this, I find that this recipe has gone full-circle? Looking around my bedroom, it is now filled with my boxed-up belongings, as I, too, am in the process of moving out of the house. To new adventures! (And yummy popsicles!)

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Roasted Strawberry Base
Recipe slightly adapted from Joy the Baker 

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pound strawberries, stems removed and halved
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
7 ounces cultured almond milk yogurt (I used Amande)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place your strawberries in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Stir to fully incorporate. Place the strawberries onto a baking sheet tray and into the oven to roast till they’re softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the roasted strawberries into a food processor. Add the sugar and lemon juice and blend till smoothie-like. In a separate bowl, using a rubber spatula or spoon mix the yogurt and vanilla extract, adding the strawberry puree. Refrigerate.

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Mint Lime Coconut Base
Recipe slightly adapted from Kitchenette Blog

INGREDIENTS
7 ounces canned coconut cream
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup lime, juiced
1/2 bunch mint, picked
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

METHOD
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend till smoothie-like. Refrigerate.

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Pineapple Coconut Base

INGREDIENTS
1 cup (8 ounces) frozen pineapple chunks
7 ounces canned coconut cream
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

METHOD
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend till smoothie-like. Refrigerate.

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POPSICLE ASSEMBLY
Once all of your bases are made, gather three liquid measuring cups (this makes it easier to pour) or cups (if you don’t have more than 1) and place each flavor into a separate cup. Pour a third of the strawberry puree into the bottom of each popsicle mold. Freeze the popsicles for about 30 minutes to an hour to set the puree before adding in the next base. Once set, pour in a third of the mint lime coconut base into the molds. Freeze for another 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the base is set. Then pour a third of the pineapple coconut base into each mold. Freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

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