Thin Mints, Trefoils, Samoas.
Girl Scout Cookie season is upon us. Almost. The official kickoff is Saturday, when you can kiss goodbye that New Year's resolution to eat healthier - and start hoarding enough of all your favorites to last until next year.
In case eating them straight out of the box gets old, here's a recipe from owner/chef Doug Levy of Feast, 3719 E. Speedway, that uses the newest Girl Scout Cookie. Called Savannah Smiles, it's a crunchy lemon cookie covered in powdered sugar (think Lemon Coolers rebranded).
Levy's dessert features lemon butter cake layered with Savannah Smiles dacquoise (that would be meringue made with the ground cookies) and dulce de leche buttercream. It was the crowd favorite at the recent Cookies & Cabernet fundraiser to benefit the Girl Scouts organization. Local restaurants were assigned a cookie to use in a dessert.
Where to find cookies
Look for Girl Scouts in your neighborhood or call the cookie hotline 319-3163. You can also hop online to the "cookie locator" at cookielocator.littlebrownie.com There's even an iPhone app "FindCookies" that'll show you the way to the nearest Girl Scout Cookie booth sale. Cookies cost $4 a box.
Lemon Merit Badge Cake
Makes about 12 slices.
Chef's notes: Make sure no yolks end up with the whites or they won't whip up properly. Also, buttercream should be not much cooler than room temperature to spread easily. This might require taking it in and out of the fridge. This dessert tastes best served at room temperature, so if it's refrigerated, take it out about half an hour before serving. Lastly, don't be intimidated - there are a lot of steps, but this isn't a difficult recipe.
Savannah Smiles dacquoise
• 2/3 cup ground Savannah Smiles cookies
• 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 2 large egg whites
• Pinch of salt
• 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse the blade until the cookies are ground to a coarse meal, the largest pieces no longer than 1/8 inch across. Combine 2/3 cup of ground cookies with the 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and cornstarch and stir well to mix.
Put the egg whites and salt into the clean bowl of a mixer and whip on low speed until whites are opaque, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed and add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar in a steady stream, beating until peaks are firm but not dry.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the ground cookie mixture into the egg whites, stirring as little as possible but combining the mixtures thoroughly. Using a pastry bag with a large plain tip, pipe the meringue onto parchment paper in a spiral the size of a 9-inch cake pan. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until golden and firm, and let cool.
Lemon butter cake
• 6 large egg yolks
• 1 cup milk, divided use
• 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
• Zest of 2 lemons
• 3 cups sifted cake flour
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 1 1/2 cups of sugar
Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by greasing them and lining them with parchment paper, then greasing them again and flouring them. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, combine yolks, 1/4 cup milk, vanilla and lemon zest. In a mixer, combine the dry ingredients and mix for a minute to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix until ingredients are all moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate. Scrape down the sides, and gradually add the egg mixture in three batches, mixing well for 20 seconds after each addition.
Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, smooth the surfaces and bake 25 to 35 minutes, until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool, loosen the sides with a spatula and turn them out of the pans, peeling off the parchment paper.
Dulce de leche buttercream
• 6 egg yolks
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup corn syrup
• 2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 3/4 cup dulce de leche (see below)
In a mixer, beat yolks until light in color. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a rolling boil. Pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks with the mixer turned off. Beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Stop mixer and add a larger amount, and beat for another 5 seconds. Continue in this fashion with the remaining syrup, beating until completely cool. Gradually beat in the butter and the dulce de leche.
Dulce de leche
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk
In a deep saucepan, completely cover the can of sweetened condensed milk with water, by at least an inch. The can must remain completely submerged, or it could explode. Bring the water to a boil and continue to boil for three hours, replenishing water as necessary so that the can remains completely submerged at all times.
To assemble: Place one layer of the cake on a cardboard round or a serving plate, spread it with buttercream, set the dacquoise on top, spread with buttercream, and put the other layer of cake on top of that. Frost the whole thing with the remaining buttercream.