Monday, February 4, 2013

Gluten-Free and Casein-Free Girl Scout Cookies! : Thin Mints

In the far reaches of my mind I remember a very short period of time when I was a Brownie. Yes folks... I was a Brownie. I know, you think... why is that I shocker? Well my friends, your snarky host here these days is so incredibly anti-.... umm, well, everything. (slight overstatement... but let's just say I am not the model Girl Scout mom or PTA Volunteer of the month) I don't think that there was ever a time though however that I ever had the opportunity to manipulate adults in such a way that only a Girl Scouts can each year with mass amounts of cookies. I think my Brownie days lasted maybe 6 months at the most when our troop leader lost a girl or two at the camp out that my mom didn't allow me to attend and my career in the scouts came to an abrupt end. I moved on to sports. My kiddos however both love the scouts, so here we are.

So then we get to cookie sales. Well to backtrack a little, a few months ago kiddo had popcorn sales with the Boy Scouts. It was a HUGE deal for him because for him to go and do cold sales... well do I need to explain? HE HAS ASPERGERS! So we wrote up a script. We practiced said script. We worked on eye contact. We worked on body language. We worked on knocking on doors. We worked and worked and worked. Then we went out and started to do sales. He did so well and was so pleased with himself. I think I cried every time he got a sale, it was a little pathetic and the people buying the popcorn thought I was insane. I took pictures.... and they thought I was insane. It was such a huge moment for him and though we did have some times where he needed help, for the most part he did such an amazing job.

So the popcorn wasn't a gluten issue, we bought popcorn and ate it. But I knew when the time came for Lil sis to sell cookies we would be in trouble because Kiddo was going to ape about it. I made Lil Sis promise that she could eat Girl Scout cookies, but NOT at home. Then I had an idea, why not make some of my own and just have them ready to go so when those cookies were, as he says "taunting" him, I could pull out our own gluten and casein-free versions and say "POW, here you go!"

Before I embark on making any new thing in the kitchen, cake, cookie or whatever it may be- I start with some research online. I look to see what everyone else has done because honestly there is no sense in reinventing the wheel. So starting off by knowing what ratios of gluten-free flours to the eggs and fats have worked best for other bakers is a good way to start and its usually how I start. That being said, there just aren't that many bakers out there that are baking both gluten AND casein-free. So it's a little more challenging to find copycat recipes like Girl Scout cookies that are GFCF which is why I worked so incredibly hard at trying to perfect these.

Because the components of these cookies are rather intricate and the steps pretty long, I am not including them all on one post, which I had originally intended to. Rather, I am breaking them up into three posts, the first being Thin Mints, Second Tagalongs and the last Samoas. Thin Mints are pretty straight forward, but the Tagalongs and Samoas are going to be chock full of descriptions and lots and lots of pictures for your viewing pleasures. Again, I was writing up these recipes and while I had the intent of just posting the recipes and shooting them out to you, I realized that it wouldn't serve you to well if you couldn't actually technically make them. So I decided to make them AGAIN and take lots of pictures to be able to offer you a visual, something that I know would help me. I have been teasing my Facebook friends for weeks now with pictures of these cookies, and my greatest apologies that the recopies have been less than quick to release, but I assure you that I only want to offer you my best!

So without further adieu... Thin Mints....

Thin Mints were the first and by far the easiest, the fats took very easily and the dough was very easy to manipulate and change to substitute out butter for palm oil instead. I didn't use coconut oil, which is usually my first choice in baking because during the holidays I did get a number of people ask if I had coconut in my cookies, which is fine, but I don't want to have a coconutty flavor in the thin mint. I attempted the dough twice for the Thin Mint and felt pretty happy with it. I did adapt my recipe from Nicole Hunn at Gluten Free on a Shoe String, a great blogger and author in the gluten-free world.



Thin Mints

1/2 sugar

1/2 C casein-free semi-sweet chocolate chips (We use Enjoy Life)

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1/2 C cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt



10 oz. Casein-free Semi-sweet chocolate

3 Tbs. palm oil

1 tsp Peppermint Extract

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Blend together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.

3. In a stand mixer add shortening and sugar and blend on medium-high until creamy. Add extract.

4. 1/2 C at a time, add flour mixture to mixer and blend after addition until all the flour has been added. The dough will begin to lump together which is what you want to happen.

5. Turn the dough back into the medium sized bowl and press it together and work it with your hands a bit just to get a uniform ball.

6. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, even over night is fine.

7. Cut two pieces of parchment paper, place one on your work space. Cut the dough in half (its easiest to work with a portion of the dough at one time)and flatten the dough just slightly and press the second piece of parchment on top of it.

8. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thickness. No thicker though or you won't have the crispness you want for the "thin" part of the Thin Mints. Try your hardest to keep a uniform thickness in the dough.

9. With a cutter (1.5" round) cut round circles and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

10. Bake for 10-12 mins. at 300 degrees.

11. While cookies are cooling, melt chocolate in a bowl. When using the microwave just be sure to only melt at 30 second intervals and then blend. If you go longer the chocolate will burn. Start with 30 second, mix until the heat has come down and if there are still bits unmelted, heat another 30 seconds and blend again until the heat has come down again. Add the oil and extract to this the mixture to be able to dip the cookies.

12. When the cookies have chilled, using a fork place the cookies in the chocolate and immerse them in the chocolate then with the top of the cookie facing up, scoop the fork under the cookie and gently tap the cookie's side at the edge of the bowl to let any extra chocolate drip off.

13. Place cookies onto a parchment lines cookie sheet to set. Once all the cookies are on the sheet, refrigerate to help set the chocolate.

14. (a unnecessary step, but I do it for looks)If you want the looks to look nice, you can simply take a paring  knife to the edge to cut off any excess chocolate that puddle when you placed them after the chocolate dredge. But it's up to you, the taste great just the same!

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