Monday, April 8, 2013

Baking with Thin Mints

So I was actually planning on my next post being about books, but then last night I had to come up with a last-minute dessert for a work potluck today. We have a ton of Girl Scout cookies left at our house, so I figured it would be easy to find a recipe using Thin Mints AND it would take a lot less time to make than the Chocolate Pecan Pie I had been thinking about bringing.

And since I haven't finished reading one of the books I want to rave about, I had the brilliant idea to share some of the delicious looking desserts I found on the blog.

These are the ones I made, mostly because they were pretty quick and I didn't have to go buy any ingredients. There were only 6 left after lunch, so I'd say they turned out pretty good! I personally have managed to only eat 2 of them. [The recipe also includes a hot fudge sauce to drizzle on top, but considering that I only got 5 hours of sleep, there was no way I was taking the time to make that as well.]

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate; coarsely chopped
3/4 cup butter, cut into large cubes
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt 

1 cup all-purpose flour
10 Thin Mint Cookies, roughly chopped

These look really amazing - and you can never go wrong with cream cheese icing - but cupcakes take a lot longer to make and I am really bad at icing them with homemade icing.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
One 8 oz. block of cream cheese 
1 cup of powdered sugar 
1 tsp vanilla [the recipe just says "some," but that's the amount I would guess to put in]

I would have made these because, clearly, two of my favorite desserts together is the most magical combination possible. But I made some cheesecake bars for our potluck in February and I wanted to be a bit more original. 

1 stick Butter, cubed  
2 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped           
5 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped          
2 tsp. Vanilla
3 Eggs
1 1/2 cup Sugar
3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 cup Flour
10 Thin Mint Cookies, roughly chopped

For the Cream Cheese Topping:
1 brick Cream Cheese
1 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Mint Extract
Green Food Coloring

I am strongly considering making these the next time I have to bring a dessert to something. Or maybe just for myself.

18 Thin Mint cookies
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Because cake pops are always a good idea, but unfortunately they also take a long time to make.

Unsalted butter, for cake pan
3 cups all-purpose flour (non-rising), sifted
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 cups sugar
1 Tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups hot water

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese (1 package)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
16 oz confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cake Pops:
1 box of Thin Mints
1 package of chocolate chips (or chocolate bark)
Lollipop sticks (available at craft stores)
Parchment Paper

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On Keeping Lent

It's so much harder to take something on than to give something up, at least for me.
Of course, that's the reason I needed those Lenten resolutions in the first place. I didn't find it excessively difficult to make time for cleaning and being more active - especially since my job involving chasing around rambunctious toddlers. But I was a lot more iffy about sticking with the other goals I set. I lost my original list about 2 weeks in so I forgot some of the things I said I'd do, but I know there were plenty - practicing my Spanish, writing blog posts - that fell to the wayside.

Mostly because I kept making excuses. Working with toddlers, in conjunction with the changing weather, meant that I spent most of February and the first half of March with a cold, or allergies, or feeling just a little under the weather. I also completely lost my voice during the Oscars and it took a week for it to start coming back. Still, I shouldn't have given myself quite so much slack, considering how much time I wasted online.

But that's the root of my problem - part of this laziness, this lack of motivation, is just my personality. I have always preferred reading a good book, curled up under my blankets, to exerting energy doing most anything else. I could quite happily go days without interacting with other people. While I love traveling, it takes a lot out of me to A) spend that much time in cramped quarters with other people and B) constantly doing so many things every single day. [I get really grouchy, really fast.] But when I went to Peru, even though I was living with a large family, I was the one who set the pace for sightseeing. I could spend hours meandering through a museum or monument, and 20 minutes getting from point A to point B - whatever I wanted to do. It was the most glorious vacation of my life.

[Well, I definitely didn't mean to go off on that tangent. I guess every time I start getting critical of myself or my environment, my brain immediately jumps back to how wonderful everything felt out of the country.]


Lent has ended, but without the usual excitement over finally getting to eat that piece of chocolate. I'm just worn out by all my disappointment at not being the energetic go-getter I've always wanted to be. I want a magical switch that will change me into an extrovert when it would be more convenient to be one. That will make me the kind of girl I love to read about - sociable and creative and reckless and bright and interesting. It's really frustrating to compare my introverted self to all these characters and the people around me. I just want to know - why them and not me? Why can't I seem to get anything done? Why do I hate talking to new people? Why am I so boring?

I don't know exactly where I'm going with this; I feel like I failed in my resolutions and I didn't even learn anything new in the process. What can I do but keep trying, keep reminding myself that that murky future out there will be really good if I can get the present together?

So I guess the moral is: we all have questions like these and we all have to keep working at them. That's what it means to be human and, in my opinion, it kinda sucks. But - and this is something that 50-some-odd views on a post taught me - we are never alone in that struggle, no matter how alone we may feel. And that is a nice sentiment to start Easter with.