Tuesday, October 27, 2020

On Cooking Southern: Let’s Hear It for the (Cookie) Girls

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SOUTHERNISM OF THE WEEK

A long drink of water: Someone who’s exceedingly tall or deep or mysterious and unfathomable.

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS

It’s that time of year again to peer expectantly through the peephole in the front door. To be specific, many local homeowners are anticipating a sales call or delivery from young entrepreneurs decked out in Girl Scout uniforms.

Unlike representatives of certain religious sects, the girls are a welcome sight. They come bearing Girl Scout cookies.

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Troop 33013 members Teresa Sims, Natasha Campbell, Brianna Barksdale and Kirsten Booker. Rear, Oxford-Lafayette Service Unit Product Manager Abi Rayburn.

Girl Scouts were begun in 1912, and the unified Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) was chartered in 1950. Today there are about 2 million Girl Scouts and 800,000 volunteers working with the scouts in more than 100 regional councils.

Girl Scout Cookies sold by the Girl Scouts of the USA are one of the major and most visible fundraisers for local scout units. They’ve been a fundraising tool since December 1917 when a Mistletoe, OK troop held a cookie bake sale at the local high school. By 1922, the idea had caught fire: The American Girl, national magazine for the organization, printed a cookie recipe as a recommended resource for troops to use in local fundraisers.

In 1936, the Girl Scouts began licensing commercial bakeries to produce cookies for troops to sell once a year. Baby Boomers during the 1960s pushed GSUSA cookie sales to new heights, and in 1978, the GSUSA’s national council standardized packaging, pricing and bakery resources for nationwide sales.

Major bakeries are licensed annually to produce the cookies, which are sold within a limited time period. Each regional Girl Scout council decides which licensed baking company to use for that council’s sales, and which cookie varieties to offer for sale.

They offer up to 28 varieties of cookies, with Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich Do-Si-Dos and Trefoil Shortbreads always in the mix. Other perennial favorites include Caramel DeLites, Samoas and Peanut Butter Patty Tagalongs.

Girls in the troops still sell cookies door-to-door, to family, friends and neighbors, in communities where the parents consider it safe to do so. Increasingly, troops sell the boxes in cookie booths at commercial locations. In Oxford, the desirable locations are outside Kroger, Walmart, and Larsen’s Cash Saver, and are scheduled for Oxford-Lafayette County’s 15 troops on a first-come-first-reserve basis. Abi Rayburn, Product Manager for the Oxford-Lafayette County Service Unit, says troops are eager to host the cookie booths, where they can sell higher volume than might be possible through individual sales.

Rayburn says that in 2014 local troops sold more than 24,000 boxes of cookies. More than 15,000 of those were from pre-sale orders (door-to-door included). Cookies also are sold online, but the customer must purchase online from specific Girl Scouts so that the scout and her troop will receive the recognition and financial percentage.

About 70 percent of cookie-sales revenue remains with the local council, and 15 percent goes to the troop selling the cookies. There are badges and other incentives awarded to individual scouts for sales, or a scout may choose to have the recognition go to the troop instead of to herself.

Many Girl Scout troops, including those in Oxford-Lafayette County, also offer the option for customers to sponsor boxes of cookies to be sent to U.S. servicemen and women. Called Troop to Troops, designated donations may be made at the cookie booths or through individual scout troops. The Troop to Troops cookie shipments are coordinated nationally.

The GSUSA has been conscientious about cookie ingredients. In 2007 they had the cookies reformulated to reduce or eliminate trans fats, and in 2011, the GSUSA instituted a policy to purchase GreenPalm certificates to support sustainable production of palm oil, which is an ingredient in the cookies.

The official 2015 Girl Scout Cookie season began January 10 in Lafayette County, and ends the weekend of March 22. Individual sales will continue until all local cookie supplies are depleted.

By the way, it has been reported to The Old Bride that it takes 4 boxes of Thin Mints to exceed an individual’s consumption capability at a single sitting. Our researchers are still experimenting with the other varieties.

Where to Find Girl Scout Cookies this Year For the latest info on cookie booth locations by zip code, visit the Girl Scouts of America website.

March 7

Kroger, University Avenue 9 am – 5 pm

Walmart, W. Jackson Avenue 9 am – 1 pm 3 – 5 pm

March 13 (times TBA)

Kroger Walmart Larsen’s Cash Saver


PEANUTTY TAGALONG BARS
This is a perennially popular recipe for the Tagalong cookies.

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1 box yellow or white cake mix
1/2 c (1 stick) salted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c crunchy peanut butter
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
14-15 Tagalong cookies, loosely chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil and grease with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix cake mix, butter and egg in a large bowl until it forms stiff dough. Loosely spread and press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly across the dough. In a separate bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter until well blended. Pour over the chips and spread out as needed with rubber spatula. Top with chopped Tagalong cookies. Sprinkle chopped peanuts evenly over the Tagalongs and press lightly into the mixture. Bake about 25 minutes, until center is firm. Do not overbake! Remove to rack to cool completely before cutting into squares.


THIN MINT CHEESECAKE BROWNIES
Everyone knows you can’t eat just one box of Thin Mints. That’s why it is imperative to purchase at least two extra boxes for every box used in a recipe. This brownie recipe is one that will make you long for Thin Mints year round.

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The brownies:
2 (8-oz) pkg cream cheese
1/2 c white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 sleeve Thin Mints, chopped
1/2 c (one stick) salted butter
2 c dark chocolate chips
1 c white granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1-1/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Mix in first sugar and egg until blended and smooth. Use large spoon to fold in the chopped Thin Mints. Set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. Place butter and chocolate chips in a double boiler bowl. In a medium-size saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and position double boiler over the water, covering for about 30 seconds to build heat in the bowl. Remove lid and stir until butter and chips have melted, avoiding water splash into the chocolate. Remove bowl from the water and use mixer to blend in remaining sugar and eggs on medium speed. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until blended.

Pour half the chocolate batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the chocolate batter, smoothing with rubber spatula. Top with remaining chocolate batter. Use a knife or rubber spatula to marbleize the batter by swirling the top layer into the cream cheese layer. Bake on center rack for 30-40 minutes, until edges pull away from pan sides and top springs back when touched.

Frosting:
1 c bittersweet chocolate
3 T cream
1/2 c (1 stick) salted butter
16-oz box of confectioners sugar
3 T whole milk
1 sleeve Thin Mints, chopped fine

While brownies are baking, make the frosting. Repeating melt-steps of the batter, bring water to a boil in the medium-size saucepan. Put chocolate, butter and 3 T cream in the double boiler. Position double boiler over the water, covering for about 30 seconds to build heat in the bowl. Remove lid and stir until butter and chips have melted. Remove bowl from the water and use mixer to blend in the sugar. Mix until completely blended — it will be grainy and warm. Beat in the milk until smooth and shiny.

As soon as brownies come out of the oven, cover with frosting. Sprinkle chopped Thin Mints evenly across the top. Cool completely before cutting.


SAMOAN ALMOND BARK
Samoa cookies are a vanilla cookie coated in caramel and toasted coconut, with chocolate stripes. Crushed, these cookies make a terrific piecrust, layers for Trifle, topping for vanilla pudding, and special ingredient in cakes.

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2 boxes Samoa cookies
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter
1 c light brown sugar
1-1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c sliced almonds, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a 9-by-11-inch baking pan (the size that comes with a toaster oven). Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Crush the Samoa cookies into small bits and spread evenly in the paring to a boil and set timer for 3 minutes, stirring to prevent burning the pan,. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the crushed cookies. Sprinkle chopped almonds over the top and bake for about 8 minutes, until caramel mixture bubbles. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips, which will melt. Cool pan and place in fridge for 1 hour to harden the mixture. Break into pieces once hardened.


TREFOIL SHORTBREAD BANANA PUDDING
Obviously, one can make up a box of vanilla pudding, but where’s the challenge? It’s about as quick to make the pudding from scratch. I’ve also added a twist with whipped cream and dulce de leche.

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1-3/4 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 c white granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
6 T light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 c whole milk
3 T dulce de leche
OR sweetened condensed milk
3 T cornstarch
1 T vanilla extract
1 box of Trefoil shortbread cookies,
plus more cookies as needed
4-6 bananas

Crush six cookies and set crumbs aside. Whip the cream and first sugar until stiff peaks form; mix in the vanilla. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

In a medium saucepan, cream the egg yolks and brown sugar. Dissolve the cornstarch in a small amount of the milk to prevent lumps. Beat the salt, milk, dulce de leche and cornstarch into the egg mixture. Cook over medium low heat until thickened, stirring continuously to prevent scorching. Add vanilla. Remove from heat and cool in a cold water bath, stirring several times.

Line a bowl with trefoil cookies. Cut bananas into thin slices and position a single layer of bananas over the cookies. Spread a third of the pudding over the bananas and cover with about 4 heaping serving spoons of whipped cream. Top with cookies and repeat the layers, ending with whipped cream. Smooth it out like icing and top with cookie crumbs. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.


Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ website and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter.