Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Homemade thin mints and my students

I'm gonna repeat myself. Just because I know I've already mumbled about teaching and students and such things. Well, you know, when you're a PhD student, life is quite limited to labs, classes, teaching and a little bit of fun social life.

Truth is, teaching is a big part of what I want my future to look like. Professor Bon? hopefully!. In the meantime, I devote my Monday and Wednesday nights to teaching general chemistry. It's certainly an interesting experience. You know those shows about colleges (like Community), in which there's a character who is the stereotypical student of some kind? I have them all.

There's the ones who are in college just because mum and dad wanted them to be, there's the mom with two kids who goes to school full time while she works full time, there's the already PhD who is back in school because he wants to go to med school. Prom queen, army guy, funny guy, dorky boys. I've had them all. And they are all great in their own way. 

Teaching is probably the most rewarding experience one could have. It's also one of the toughest ones. When T.A evaluations come, you see nasty comments (probably from that one student who yelled at you in class and called you an idiot), that make you feel terrible.  Just until you read the good ones. Those make it all worth it. The long hours of grading, the class preparation, the late nights teaching when you've been at work for over 12 hrs. It all pays off.

Today I was having a terrible day. One of those in which everything seems terrible. Then a few of my students tried to make me laugh. They tried really hard, goofing around and cracking jokes. And by the end of lab, I was in the best mood I've been in, all week.

Teaching is as good as these cookies. The home made version of the infamous girl scouts cookie, but cheaper, healthier and tastier. My friend Chase loves them to death. Since we pounded an entire box while playing cribbage a few days ago, I decided to make him a batch. He loved them and so will you.

Homemade thin mints

For the cookies
8 ounces/1 stick of butter
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon of fine grain salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

For the chocolate coating
12 ounces of chocolate chips
Peppermint extract

Cream the butter, vanilla extract, salt and powdered sugar. Add the cocoa powder and mix well. Finally stir in the flour and mix until just combined. Don't overmix or your cookies will be hard. Place the dough in the freezer for about 30 min. Then roll it between two pieces of parchment paper, to about 1/8 in thickness. This dough is soft. My kitchen was hot and it kept getting too soft to cut and place in the baking sheet without it getting weirdly shaped. To prevent that, I rolled the dough and put it in the freezer for about 2 min before cutting shapes with the cookie cutter. That way they kept shape and were easier to handle. Also, you want to roll a bit of dough at a time, or again, it'll get soft and it'll be hard to handle. 
Bake the cookies at 350 for about 10 minutes or until you can smell them. They burn fast, so be careful.

Once the cookies are baked, let them cool completely so they harden, otherwise they'll break when you try to coat them (10 min in the freezer will shorten the cooling time). Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and then add the peppermint extract to your taste. You don't want to add it before since heat could alter the flavor (this doesn't happen with oils, only extracts) . I'm a big fan of microwaving chocolate, but you want to keep it warm while you coat the cookies and a double boiler works best for that. Dip the cookies one at a time. I still have to perfect the coating technique. I threw them in the chocolate, coated both sides and then using two forks, removed the excess chocolate (specially the one that sticks at the bottom). It's a matter of practice, my first cookies were extremely coated. Place the coated cookies in a piece of parchment paper and let them cool so the chocolate hardens. Once again, the freezer does the trick in a few minutes. Store in the fridge to prevent the chocolate from melting.


Carmen said...

Hola Adri !!!!! quant temps sense veure't.
És veritat, hi ha dies que començen malament i penses, avui ho tinc clar, però quan arriba el final del dia veus que per alguna raó (en aquest cas els teus alumnes) ha estat molt millor del que esperaves.
Em porto la recepta d'aquestes galetes tan bones, suposo que recorden lleugerament als after eight.
Petonets maca !!!!!

Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen said...

I've made these thin mints before and they were AMAZING. Best recipe ever!


It was just so nice to read your post!.. I almost felt what you feel at work, when you teach those kids. This cookies seems tremendous, I´ll make them at home, probably I´ll missed mint extract to half of it because my husband will not eat them. For me, with mint please!... kisses from argentina

la cuina de l'estany said...

Quina maravella, m'encnaten me'n porto la recepta!!

E chef said...

Me ha encantado leer tu post, me he sentido tan identificada, yo fuí profesora en 3 universidades en la misma época (hace unos 5 años atrás) y esa sensación de compartir y aprender tanto con los alumnos, más que con los libros inclusive, es genial, la alegría de los chicos cuando aprenden algo nuevo o cuando están elucubrando alguna pregunta, es totalmente cautivante, ahora por una u otra cosa la vida me ha apartado de esa experiencia que espero volver a tener la suerte de repetir...en fin...he disfrutado muchísimo de este post,, me quedo contigo, tu blog es muy interesante!! Aprovecho y te invito a visitar mi blog, Tu E Chef, que aunque aún no ha cumplido tres meses está muy lleno de cariño y de ilusión, pásate un momento que yo pondré un merengado de frutas que he preparado, y unos refrescos, de finas hierbas que combinan estupendamente!!
Un Beso muy gordo!!
Tu E Chef

briarrose said...

Yum! Beautiful cookies. Love the minty goodness.

MªJose-Dit i Fet said...

Que deliciosas galletas!! me ha gustado eso que cuentas de tus alumnos, que sean capaces de arreglarte un dia malo...un besito

Maria said...

Aquestes galetes t'han quedat estupendes! Més d'un les deu haver celebrat!
Muaks muaks

Anonymous said...

Hi Adri, I just found your blog through Food Gawker and just love it. The Mint Cookies will be baked, we like them a lot.
Greetings from Colorado

Mercè said...

Adri, es nota que gaudeixes moltíssim. :) I quin luxe que els alumnes et facin canviar d'humor. ;)
Jo crec que unes galetes com aquestes segur que em farien pujar els ànims. ;)

Shelley Lucas said...

These look awesome! And I was just munching on GS cookies- now I'm inspired to go make my own!

Adriana said...

My mother and I both adore the mint chocolate combination. This recipe is bookmarked!

lisa said...

Thin mints were always one of my favorites! I teach dance part time, and have taught kids for a long time, and it is hard but rewarding work.

Mai said...

Ténen tot el necessari per ser unes galetes delicioses i si al teu amic li han agradat , doncs a nosaltres ens encantaràn, de tota manera ja t´ho faré saber quan les faci, m´ha costat una mica trobar-te, ara m´he fert seguidora, crec que és el millor per no perdre´t de vista.
espero estiguis mes animada que l´altre dia, si els teus alumnes es preocupen tant quan et veuen d´horabaixa, es que tens molta sort amb els alumnes.
Una abraçada i fins ben aviat.

Anonymous said...

I love thin mints! I am definitely making these soon! I am a kindergarten teacher and I love it! Every little thing makes them smile and it is truly rewarding. It is always amazing to me to start the year off with a student who goes from not being able to write their name to reading by the end of the school year! :)

Rosita Vargas said...

Me encantan los dulces que llevan chocolate y el homenade está espectacular y gourmet,me quedo en tu blog para seguir viendo tus recetas,abeazos.

Anonymous said...

First, I'd like to say I love your photos - they were beautiful. I had high hopes for this because I LOVE thin mints - but I think the cocoa/flour ratio was too high. Perhaps it needed sifted flour instead? My dough ended up being too crumbly to form into a log and took an addition of milk and oil to make it workable. The cookies themselves came out soft instead of crisp (even with little mini ones in the oven for 12 minutes) and the cocoa powder was overwhelming to make them almost inedible and a bit bitter. I think the chocolate topping might need another softening ingredient or perhaps using a chocolate like Almond Bark instead of chocolate chips - because the chocolate had too thick of a consistency to dip for me. Good concept though and definitely something I'll keep playing with.

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