With apologies to Andy Williams, now is the most wonderful time of the year ... for it is Girl Scout cookie season.
But after plowing through several sleeves of Thin Mints, fatigue can set in. So we wondered, when you're starting to feel sick of Girl Scout cookies, is there a way to rekindle the love?
We turned to Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful podcast at WNYC studios, for advice. His book, Eat More Better, tackles this pressing public interest matter. He suggests mixing it up — quite literally, by baking a cheesecake crafted from a mashup of cookies. His recipes for Girl Scout Unity Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Cookie Centaur are excerpted below.
Note: You might be puzzled to see some cookies listed with two names. As Pashman explains in his book, many Girl Scout cookies come with a bizarre naming convention: "They actually have two different names, depending on which of two licensed bakers is manufacturing them. (Troops decide which baker to use.)" He writes:
"One baker (ABC Bakers) uses literal names that give the eater an idea of what's inside — Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbreads. The other (Little Brownie Bakers) uses random words that communicate nothing — Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Trefoils. (It's not surprising that a company called ABC shows a greater reverence for language.)"
Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake
If you unify a bunch of different Girl Scout cookies in a single cheesecake, it doesn't matter what they're called. It's Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake. And it's amazing.
My friend Emily Konn of Vail Custom Cake, a passionate eater and professional pastry chef, makes the best cheesecake I've ever eaten. I asked her to create a cheesecake that uses as many types of Girl Scout cookies as possible.
You will need:
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 box Do-si-dos/Peanut Butter Sandwiches
1 sleeve Thin Mints
1 sleeve Trefoils/Shortbreads
1 box Samoas/Caramel deLites
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grind all cookies except Samoas in a food processor or blender, or put in a sealable plastic bag and crush with a mallet or rolling pin into a fine meal. Mix with butter by hand and press into a 10-inch springform pan. Make sure cookies are evenly distributed along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately layer Samoas on crust so chocolate melts slightly and helps cookies stick to the crust. Let crust cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator and chill completely (about 1 hour).
Chef's note: This recipe accounts for at least two cookies being eaten out of each box during the cooking process.
You will need:
24 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 box Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties, cut into quarters
Soften cream cheese until it's very mixable. You can even microwave it briefly on defrost until it starts to soften.
Place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl. Use a mixer on medium-high speed (with a paddle attachment if you have it) to beat the cream cheese and sugar together until cream cheese is smooth. Scrape sides of bowl. With mixer on medium speed, add eggs 1 at a time. When all eggs are added, continue to mix until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl twice. With mixer running on medium, gradually pour in heavy cream. Mix until just combined. (Do not overmix. If it starts to look thick like whipped cream, you overmixed.) Optional extra step: Strain it through a fine-meshed strainer to remove lumps. This gives you more margin for error if you messed up your mixing.
Pour mixture into cooled crust. Tap pan on counter to dislodge air pockets. Drop the Tagalongs evenly into the batter.
Prepare a water bath in a pan big enough to hold your cake. Crush aluminum foil together to create an S that will hold up the cake above the water level. Place cake on top of foil and make sure it's stable. Place in oven and pour water in pan just until it reaches the bottom of pan. If you go above the foil your crust will get soggy.
Foil And Water Bath Technique
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then lower temperature to 250 and continue to bake for an additional 60 to 90 minutes or until it's firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly (but not cracking). Let stand on rack on counter for a half-hour, then refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
Girl Scout Peanut Butter Cookie Centaur
Here's a simpler way to bring Girl Scout cookies together into something new. You'll need Peanut Butter Sandwiches (aka Do-si-dos) and Peanut Butter Patties (aka Tagalongs).
Separate top and bottom cookies of the Peanut Butter Sandwich and focus attention on half with more peanut butter on it. Lay the Peanut Butter Patty cookie upside down on that half, so Patty's peanut butter and Sandwich's peanut butter are against each other and on the bottom half of the sandwich, facing tongueward, to capitalize on the Proximity Effect (Page TK in "Physical Sciences"). Place other half of Sandwich cookie on top. Enjoy.
Cheesecake recipe (and photo) by Emily Konn of Vail Custom Cake, text excerpted from Eat More Better by Dan Pashman.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
With apologies to Andy Williams, now is the most wonderful time of the year. For it is Girl Scout cookie season. But after plowing through several sleeves of thin mints, fatigue can set in. You know what I'm talking about. So we wondered, when you have started to feel sick of Girl Scout Cookies, is there a way to rekindle the love? Here to help us is Dan Pashman, host of "The Sporkful" podcast at WNYC studios. Hey, Dan.
DAN PASHMAN: Hi, Rachel.
MARTIN: All right. So the other day I'm sitting around, and and we're in the office. And I'm just looking at boxes and boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. They were never-ending. And I was just like, I can't take one more Samoa.
PASHMAN: That's right. Do you find that the creative output of WEEKEND EDITION rises and falls with the consumption of Girl Scout Cookies?
MARTIN: (Laughter) In which direction?
PASHMAN: Well, it's a bell curve, I think. (Laughter). And that's one thing I want to say before we get into diagnosing your issue here, is that there's a problem with Girl Scout Cookies, a couple of problems that tie into your issue.
PASHMAN: First of all, I think they're in danger of flooding the market. Girl Scout cookie season is longer than it used to be...
MARTIN: It is.
PASHMAN: With online ordering and everything.
PASHMAN: They used to have a great, you know, artificial scarcity that made it such a special time of year. And now I fear that they're losing that. And they're losing people like you, who are not going to be so excited the next time they come around. The other marketing issue that I think is confronting the Girl Scout Cookies is their naming, the nomenclature 'cause there's two different bakers that make them. And in different regions, the same cookie can have two different names.
MARTIN: So I didn't even know that - this whole Samoa-Caramel deLites thing.
PASHMAN: That's right. In fact, the only cookie of the canonical cookies that is the same by both bakers is Thin Mints.
MARTIN: All right. So let's get to the heart of this issue, which is I need something else to do with these cookies 'cause I don't want to eat them on their own anymore.
PASHMAN: I think let's start with something simple and work our way up. If you're getting tired of Girl Scout Cookies, the first thing I would say is consider altering their serving temperature. For Thin Mints, store them in the fridge.
PASHMAN: You put a little chill on the mint. It brings that spark of a fresh mint flavor to the fore. It will reinvigorate your Thin Mints. Samoas, or Caramel deLites, I would recommend warming them a little bit. Get that caramel and that chocolate a little oozy.
PASHMAN: If you want to get a little more complicated, you could start adding a savory element.
MARTIN: Could you?
PASHMAN: You could. I've done experimentation combining potato chips with Samoas...
MARTIN: Come on.
PASHMAN: Or Caramel deLites. Yes. You put a thin spread of cream cheese on the top, and then you can fuse a potato chip to it. You're adding crunch and you're adding salt.
MARTIN: With the cream cheese, that's brave.
PASHMAN: I mean, you would have a cheesecake with all of these components in it.
MARTIN: You're right. OK.
PASHMAN: And speaking of cheesecake, that's my next recommendation to you. So I've got this friend, Emily Konn. She runs this company called Vail Custom Cakes. And she makes the best cheesecake I've ever had in my life. And I asked her to design a Girl Scout Cookie cheesecake for my book. And she did it. And it's called Girl Scout Cookie Unity Cheesecake. It has three different Girl Scout Cookies crushed up in the crust. It has Samoas lining the bottom, and then it has the peanut butter patties or tagalongs floating throughout the cheesecake. The other thing that Emily makes is called her Tipsy Girl Scouts. These are cupcakes that are devil's food cupcakes soaked with Malibu rum.
PASHMAN: Then she adds chocolate ganache and a vanilla bean caramel buttercream and toasted coconut. She basically makes a cupcake out of the root ingredients of a Samoa.
MARTIN: That sounds delicious.
MARTIN: OK, I feel better. I feel renewed in my love and appreciation of the Girl Scout Cookie. Dan Pashman, he's host of "The Sporkful" podcast. He's also the author of "Eat More Better." That's where you can find that cheesecake recipe as well as on our website. Hey, Dan, thanks so much.
PASHMAN: Take care, Rachel. Good luck getting through those cookies.
MARTIN: Hey, thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.