Growing up in the 70’s I was unfortunate enough to have parents who, with the exception of Upstairs/Downstairs, didn’t watch television—which was kind of ironic since my father put food on the table by writing commercials. Regardless, they were pretty strict about TV watching and, like all forbidden fruit, the machine my father called the ‘idiot box’ became even more desirable than it might have had I been allowed to watch more than one hour a day. So, when I was still too young to have homework, I came up with lots of ways to become a worthy couch potato.
There was the daily visit to our next door neighbors’ for a Coke and a few blissful minutes of The 4:30 Movie. Weekends spent in my grandparents’ den where I’d pretend to be asleep, with one eye open, just until Carol Burnett tugged at her ear. And when I was home from school with the flu I’d plant myself in front of the set in my parents’ bedroom and, from I Love Lucy to The Price is Right to The Mike Douglas Show, not move all day. Plus I lied when Dad called from work, “No, I’m not watching TV, just resting.” If only my parents had understood that if they’d allowed unlimited television time Charles Dickens might have beaten out Peter Brady for my attention Friday nights at 8pm. Well, maybe not.
But the most devious plot was the mutual blackmail between me and a certain babysitter. She was 15, lived in the building, and one Friday evening after The Partridge Family, when I should have been getting into bed, we made a deal (hah!). She’d let me stay up for the racy Love American Style if I kept my mouth shut while she went to grab a smoke with the elevator man. My lips were sealed! But, can you imagine? I was eight and left alone in the apartment with my sleeping younger siblings. Not surprisingly, I learned a few years later, she had been sharing a lot more than a cigarette with Juan.While doing all this covert TV watching I was struck by how many commercials there were for things I’d never seen or experienced. What were Buster Brown shoes and where did you get them? All the TV kids had them. And Dolly Madison snack cakes. Charlie Brown was filled with ads for them but I’d only seen Drakes and Hostess in the market—I wanted to try a Zinger! What about the Avon lady? She never rang the doorbell of apartment 9D. I felt like I was missing out on so much.
This past weekend in the New York Times there was an article about how the Girl Scouts are finally including independent schools in their chapters. Excuse me but where were they when I was a kid? That was another thing under the "as [only] seen on TV" category. I was so jealous of those cool pins and badges and that special camp. But what really got me were the cookies. I knew girls in Westchester who bragged about how many Do-Si-Dos they sold or how chewy the Samoas were—yet another injustice of my childhood.
Since then of course I’ve contributed quite a bit to the Scout effort through my annual Thin Mints purchase, whether via my sister and her colleagues’ kids or suburban friends. And every year I am excited to put my boxes in the freezer (everyone knows they are better ice cold) and ration them out slowly to last as long as possible. And that’s where it gets screwy: I actually never finish them. I seem to have cookie amnesia; when it comes time to place my order I simply forget how mediocre they are! One look at the ingredient list and you might realize these chocolate cookies are sub-par because they contain, drum roll please, no chocolate. But never fear, there is plenty of hydrogenated palm oil, TBHQ (huh? It’s a preservative), and artificial flavor to make up for it.
Although I’m no longer curious about Zingers, and realize how hideous Buster Brown shoes were, I’m not willing to give up on my fantasy of the perfect chocolate mint cookie. I found this recipe on-line ages ago and the results are definitely badge worthy—a cocoa cookie covered in REAL dark chocolate and infused with the cool of mint. Now, if only Keith Partridge could share them with me.Note: My logs flattened a little in the freezer making the cookies more squared off than perfectly round. This can be avoided if you fill a small pan with rice and lay the logs on top of it. I am way too lazy to take this step but if you're not, good for you.
Child of the 70's Real Chocolate Thin Mint Cookies
Adapted from bakingbites.com October, 2005
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2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
6 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
10 oz Ghiradellli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
In small bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and saltIn bowl of an electric mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
With the mixer on low add milk and extracts and beat until combined. (It will look a little curdled)
With mixer on low, add flour mixture until fully combined
Scrape dough out onto cutting board, give it a little knead to smooth it a bit and divide into two piecesRoll each section of dough into logs around 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 1-2 hours until dough is very firmPreheat oven to 375 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper
Using a very sharp knife, slice dough into thin rounds no more than 1/4 inch thickPlace cookies on sheets leaving 1/2 inch between cookies-they won't spreadBake 13-15 minutes until cookies are firm at the edges
Cool completely on wire rack
Place chocolate and butter in microwave bowl and microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between nukes, until mixture is smooth and liquidy. Add peppermint extract and stir vigorously to distribute evenly.
Carefully drop cooled cookies, one at a time, into chocolate. Frankly, it's just easier to get in there and use your fingers to coat both sides. Then scrape cookie against side of bowl to remove excess and place on pan lined with wax or parchment paper. (If while dipping the chocolate gets too cool and thick, briefly pop back in microwave.)
Leave cookies to set, 30 minutes-one hour. Store cookies in airtight container between layers of wax paper...in the freezer of course!
Yield: 6 dozen cookies