I'm not the first to develop recipes using Girl Scout cookies. About 20 years ago, I saw an article in a newspaper using Girl Scout cookies to make cakes. I made one of the recipes, and it came out almost as pretty as the paper's picture, and it tasted really good.
I was hooked. But before I could get started in the kitchen baking and cooking with Girl Scout cookies, I had a hurdle to get over. I had to decide whether I wanted to eat the cookies I ordered shortly after I received them — or delay gratification and experiment with them. It was a tough choice.
What do savory lemon fish and stuffing (lower left) have in common with dessert pizza, bourbon balls and other sweets? They're all made with Girl Scout cookies.
What do savory lemon fish and stuffing (lower left) have in common with dessert pizza, bourbon balls and other sweets? They're all made with Girl Scout cookies. Doreen McCallister/NPR
If you haven't gotten a knock on your front door, been accosted by a co-worker or gotten a call from a long-lost niece, you may not know it's Girl Scout cookie season.
It's crazy, right? What's the big deal about Girl Scout cookies? There are a variety of cookies in the supermarket 365 days a year. Yet a lot of us go nuts over a little box of cookies with the Scouts logo on it, and those boxes have gotten smaller and pricier over the years.
Without fail, I start making plans for my cookie order shortly after New Year's Day. I have spent the previous year concocting recipes using Girl Scout cookies, and I have a good idea of what I want to try to make over the coming year.
You see, I was one of those people who gobbled up Girl Scout cookie after cookie, sleeve after sleeve, box after box — a regular Cookie Monster.
For more than 20 years, Doreen McCallister has been keeping her NPR colleagues guessing about what's in her baked goods. Recipes like Tomato Soup Cake, Mayonnaise Cake and Velveeta Fudge piqued her interest, and she started experimenting with her own secret-ingredient recipes. Even when she brings something "normal" to work, everyone demands to know: "What's in it? No, really — what's in it?"
But after a couple of cookie seasons went by and I had nothing to show for it except empty boxes, I decided I was game for experimenting.
At first I over-ordered: some cookies for me, some cookies for the test kitchen. It escalated to cases. I've calmed down, and now I only have a cookie stash for the sole purpose of cooking with them.
Although, anytime there is a tornado warning, I'm pretty pleased that I might have to spend some quality time in the basement. Normal people probably have emergency water and canned food down there. They don't know what they're missing.
If by some chance you don't love Girl Scout cookies, other manufacturers have brands that could be substituted in my recipes. The elves at Keebler are pretty busy turning out several varieties that are similar to the Scouts' cookies.
I did have one experiment that went horribly wrong. I've blocked most of it out, but I do remember Tagalongs were involved. I didn't think it was possible to make something too sweet. Wrong. A year lapsed before I had the stomach to head back into my test kitchen.
While I prefer supporting my local troop, the Scouts have a new cookie this season that's not available in my area. Sadly, I haven't tried Mango Cremes yet. But in the interest of research, I found them on the Internet. I can't wait to add those boxes to my stash. I'm thinking smoothie, fruit dessert, chutney, gelatin, salsa, pork chops. Looks like I'm going to need a bigger basement.
Recipe: Girl Scout Cookie Lemon Fish
Sadly, the Girl Scouts are not offering Lemon Chalet Cremes this year. Fortunately, there are other brands of lemon cream cookies you can use.
Makes 4 servings
1 box Lemon Chalet Cremes Girl Scout cookies (or 20 lemon cream cookies of another brand)
4 medium pieces tilapia
Salt and crushed black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split cookies apart and scrape cream filling into a medium-sized bowl. Crush cookies. Sprinkle half the crushed cookies onto the bottom of a greased 13-by-9-inch glass pan.
Season tilapia with salt and crushed black pepper, and place in pan.
To the bowl with the cream filling, add Greek yogurt, olive oil and lemon pepper, and mix. Put dollops of the cream mixture onto the fish, then spread it along the fillet. Sprinkle remaining crushed cookies onto the fish. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.
Recipe: Aren't-You-Glad-You-Didn't-Give-Up-Carbs Girl Scout Cookie Stuffing
I love Thanksgiving, not because of the turkey but because of the stuffing. I use potato bread in this recipe. This stuffing is on the sweet side, but if you're up for trying something different and you're not wedded to oyster stuffing, you might find this is a nice way to mix things up now and then.
Makes 6 (1–cup) servings
12 cups cubed potato bread
1 cup chopped Dulce de Leche Girl Scout cookies (or other caramel-flavored cookies)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup yellow raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (of your choice)
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, melt butter and saute onions and celery until tender.
In a large mixing bowl, add bread, celery and onions and spices. Stir, then add cookies, cranberries, raisins and nuts. Stir, then add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. Mix. Add more stock if necessary to make it moist.
Place mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
Recipe: Thin Mints Popcorn
This popcorn is the reason goody bags were invented.
Makes 10 cups, loosely filled
6 cups popped popcorn
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 sleeve Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies
12 ounces melted chocolate (of your choice)
Pop and slightly butter homemade popcorn, or pop 1 bag butter-flavored microwave popcorn. Roughly chop cookies.
In a large bowl, microwave peanut butter and brown sugar for about 1 minute, and stir to combine. Add popcorn and stir to coat. Mix in cookies.
Spread on parchment-lined pan. Melt chocolate and drizzle over popcorn. Let stand about 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe: Must-Be-21 Girl Scout Bourbon Balls
I received a really expensive bottle of bourbon as a gift. I was told, "Drink it. Don't use it in any of those crazy recipes you make." You can use an inexpensive brand for this recipe, but know I'll be using the good stuff.
Makes about 2 dozen
1 cup raisins
Enough bourbon to cover the raisins
1 box finely crushed Trefoils Girl Scout cookies (or 2 1/2 cups other shortbread cookies)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cacao nibs (these are not chocolate chips and are usually with the health food, not the baking items, in grocery stores)
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
Soak raisins in bourbon for at least 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine crushed cookies, powdered sugar, nibs and corn syrup. Spoon soaked raisins into the cookie mixture, reserving the liquid.
Mix well. Using the reserved soaking bourbon to make the mixture wet enough to hold together to form balls, form the mixture into 1-inch balls.
Roll the balls in granulated sugar or crushed nuts. Store in airtight container, and enjoy the smell every time you open the lid.
Recipe: Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Pizza
I've seen numerous dessert pizza recipes, most using fruit, but I had never tried them. While I'm usually the first to gild the lily, there's something not right about a good sugar cookie not being the star of the show. But I've gotten over that. I was surprised at how well the sugar cookie and Girl Scout cookies complemented each other.
Makes 20 servings (1 14-inch pizza)
1 tube (16.5 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough (or your favorite sugar cookie recipe)
Assorted Girl Scout (or other brand) cookies of your choice
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, at room temperature
Assorted colorful candies (such as M&Ms)
1/2 cup melted white chocolate, coconut shavings or mini marshmallows for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Press the prepared sugar cookie dough (store-bought or homemade) onto an ungreased 14-inch pizza pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
While dough is baking, coarsely chop the cookies. You should have approximately 3 to 4 cups.
Remove pan from oven and cool on a wire rack. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt semisweet chocolate and peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Add cream cheese and mix until smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over crust. Top with chopped cookies. Add assorted candies for color.
Melt white chocolate and drizzle over pizza, or use coconut or mini marshmallows to garnish. Refrigerate, covered, until chocolate is set.
Recipe: Gone-To-Heaven Girl Scout Cookies
You might be thinking: The Girl Scouts already have a peanut butter-filled cookie dipped in chocolate called Tagalongs, so why would I need to make my own? Because not only does this taste delicious, it also looks like a designer chocolate creation. It's perfect for gift giving. If you've never melted chocolate for dipping, there are some good demonstration videos online. I like to make my cookies massive, so you might want to have extra chocolate on standby.
1 sleeve Trefoils Girl Scout cookies (or other shortbread cookie)
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 (12-ounce) package milk chocolate chips
Sprinkles, finely chopped nuts (optional)
Spread 1 teaspoon of peanut butter between two Trefoils. Melt chocolate, and dip each cookie sandwich so it's totally covered in chocolate. Set on parchment-lined sheet tray to dry.
You can leave them plain, or before they dry, decorate with sprinkles, finely chopped nuts, etc. After they dry, you could make icing decorations such as flowers and hearts.