Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Last Sunday we had a Victorian Holloween Housewarming. What that means is, we live in a Victorian, it was Halloween, and it was a housewarming. It just so happened that October 31st was the perfect day to have our housewarming. There is something potentially whimsical, even magical about Halloween. I have really never liked the day before this year, but looking for vintage-looking decorations was surprisingly fun. It turns out, I think Halloween can be scary in the Harry Potter sense, where there is so much magic and possibility, the fear somehow subsides to the edges. This is assuming no nasty ghoulish monster masks make it into the days costumes. I prefer fairy princesses and old England-style witches personally, think Wizard of Oz.
Back at the housewarming, we snacked on a potluck of delights all afternoon: nutty popcorn balls, savory zucchini squares, squash and shallot toasts, pumpkin seed pesto, and the crowning glory--caramelized bread pudding. I am all for providing the party, but it was way more festive, tasty, and appropriate for everyone to contribute. Now, we have been warmed.
One warming item of note was the cookie jar of Donna's Chocolate Mint Cookies. I love the jar and I love, love these cookies. They are the cookie in my beloved's mind. He acquired the recipe from a classmate in grade-school, and my mother-in-law has been making them ever since. It was the first recipe I got from her, and is now blotched and faded from use. Chocolate Mint Cookies were in the care packages she sent us in college at finales time. It was the cookie she'd have waiting for us when we'd come home for Christmas. And it is the cookie she made to fill the cookie jar as a housewarming gift. Yeah for traditions, and yeah for food that threads through our lives.
Who knows where the recipe came from originally. I researched for a moment or two on the old, reliable World Wide Web, and similar recipes are definitely out there, all gotten from similarly vague sources (like a cookie exchange). But like every other faithful daughter-in-law, I will continue to claim fairly emphatically, that they are Donna's Chocolate Mint Cookies.
Donna's Chocolate Mint Cookies
A few things: 1) It is absolutely essential that you do not over bake these. Know your oven. Set a timer. 2) I have yet to try it, but I believe some muscovado sugar swapped in for the brown sugar would raise these cookies even higher on the cookie pile: deeper, darker, and a wee better for you. 3) We have always used the brand-name Andes Chocolate Mints, but I could never find them in Vancouver. I have since realized there are other alternatives. I will try a simple, albeit swirl-less (Andes has a layer of green creme de menthe sandwiched between chocolate, when it melts and you spread, it swirls), mint-flavored chocolate bar next time.
Have on hand: 3 packages Andes Chocolate Mints, or equivalent
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
Fold in then let cool:
12 ounces chocolate (she uses semi sweet chocolate chips)
Once cool, beat in one at a time:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
The dough will be very soft. Chill covered, until fairly firm.
Roll into balls (about the size of a large walnut). Place on a ungreased baking sheet and bake at 35o degrees in a preheated oven for 8-11 minutes. Put one mint on each hot cookie. Let melt and spread. Cool. Enjoy!