Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Thin Mints on a Rocky Road...

If you caught my clue from yesterday's post, you may have figured out that we incorporated some Girl Scout cookies into the treat I was making. One of Jeff's co-workers gave him a couple boxes if Thin Mints and challenged us to come up with something fun to make.

Our first thought was to make those fantastic Outrageous Brownies, using the Thin Mints instead of the Oreo's. However, we wanted to do something just a little different and make a new recipe. Our second thought was maybe working them into a cookie of some sort... but after talking about what we wanted the treat to be like, I ended up making these bars that we'll call Thin Mints on a Rocky Road.

These turned into a dense, moist and a little crumbly chocolate cookie bar that we studded with chunky pieces of the Thin Mint cookies. Rocky Road typically has some sort of nut included, so we tossed in some roasted and salted chopped almonds for a crunchy bite. We wanted the Thin Mint flavor to stand out, so once they had almost completely baked, we scattered a generous cup of the chopped cookies over the top of the hot bars. We certainly couldn't forget about the marshmallow part, so before the pan went back into the oven, we followed up with a couple cups of the traditional squishy mini-marshmallows over the chopped cookies. Since we wanted the striking contrast between the white marshmallows and the dark cookie, we only left them in just long enough to allow the marshmallows to expand and soften - you could let them get a little toasty and browned if you like.

I was a little worried that they might be a bit too sweet, but the salted nuts and slightly bitter cocoa powder was enough to keep it under control. Just minty enough, without feeling like you just had a breath mint, these decadent chocolate cookie bars were an exciting treat and one I'll be looking forward to making again during the next Girl Scout cookie season.

Now on to tonight's dinner - Neapolitan Meatballs! This is really just a base recipe that you could then turn and use however you like - be it over pasta, some creamy polenta or like us tonight, in a toasted sesame seed sub roll.

Before you begin working on the meatballs, a homemade sauce is prepared so it has a chance to start simmering. A healthy amount of thinly sliced garlic, a bit of dried oregano and crushed red pepper start out in olive oil for the sauce. Since it isn't quite tomato season yet, this sauce uses canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes with diced plum tomatoes to add a fresh background to the tinned tomato. The tomatoes are added to the softened, yet not browned, garlic and brought to a high simmer - they are then lowered down to a bare bubble, partially covered and allowed to concentrate down, partially covered, while you work on the meatballs.

To bulk up and stretch the meatballs a bit, bulgur, that had been soaked in hot water and drained, is added to a mixture of ground sirloin, eggs, sharp Parmesan cheese and a surprise ingredient, cinnamon! Well, it wasn't so much a surprise to us, as we have done a couple other beef dishes that include cinnamon - it does not sound like would work, but it just adds a little sweet something that brings out another dimension. Once the balls have been formed, they are browned in a couple batches and then transferred to the sauce to finish cooking through. Before you serve this, be sure to give the sauce a quick taste for tartness - if you find it too much for you, add just a little sugar to help tone it down. This made quite a bit - 8 servings in total for us (3 meatballs + a load of sauce each) and I'm very much looking forward to storing half of these in the freezer to pull out for quick dinners or lunches!


  1. What a great way to use the Girls Scout Cookies. They haven't knocked on my door yet this year.

  2. Those meatballs look delicious! You are my favorite blogger.

  3. Helene - What time of the year do they come by?

    Karen - Wow, thanks!

  4. I thought it was March. Still haven't seen them on my street.

  5. The meatball recipe sounds delicious. I put a ton of garlic in my meatballs but cinnamon seems like a nice change. Thanks!

  6. Helene - Hopefully they didn't skip your part of the neighborhood!

    Robin - we had a lot of garlic in the sauce!