Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Great Grammie O'Keefe's Recipe Box: Starlight Mint Surprise Cookies

(Secret goodness hidden inside)

On one of my recent trips back up to Boston, Mom gave me an absolutely priceless gift, Great-Grammie O'Keefe's recipe box. Perhaps most notable is the fact that the recipes are about 90% desserts. (In fact, Mom specifically advised me to avoid any recipe that was not dessert related, because she couldn't vouch for its flavor and/or outrageous caloric content). The box has an entire section dedicated to frostings. Unbelievable. While many of the recipes have been typed up on index cards (nice!), some are handwritten in an elaborate script, from which I decode phrases like: "bake until done," or "add nuts." Great Grammie also liked to flagrantly omit ingredients until the point in the recipe that one would add them... because everyone had a double-boiler of melting chocolate going all the time, right? (Always read a recipe all the way through before you attempt it. Good advice for everyone). Despite the occasional frustration, the real feeling I take away from these recipes is that of following clues around Great Grammie's kitchen and the thrilling sensation of unlocking her baking secrets. I plan to try many of her recipes this year. I hope you like them, too. 

From what Mom has told me, I am assuming that Starlight Mint Surprise Cookies were once a very common homemade cookie a la Tollhouse. A quick search on the Interweb turned up a bunch of similar the-way-my-mom-used-to-make-'em type recipes. The original recipe calls for Rockwood Chocolate Mint Wafers, but I couldn't find them anywhere. Mom tells me that Rockwood Chocolate Mint Wafers were similar to Girl Scouts Thin Mints, but smaller. Since I covet my seasonally-available Thin Mints like the last tube of toothpaste on Battlestar Galactica, I opted to put Andes Creme de Menthe mints in the middle of my cookies. I wasn't sure how much dough to wrap around each mint, so the first batch baked up bigger than I expected.

The dough itself is a pretty basic cookie dough. Despite the fact that I have made several kinds of cookies over the last year, I'm not a cookie person. Sugar, peanut butter, and shortbread cookies are just plain boring and not worth the calories. When it comes to your standard cookie dough recipe, I'd much rather sit down with a tube of the raw, premade stuff, pop in a movie, and go to it, preferably with my fingers. But this recipe was delicious. The cookies were a scrumptious combination of firm and chewy, with a great sugary taste, without seeming like a ball of sugar. And they were easy!

Starlight Mint Surprise Cookies  
adapted from Great Grammie's recipe
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen

3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1 package Andes mints
Pecans halves


1. Sift together first three ingredients in a medium bowl. Cream together butter and two sugars. Add eggs, water and vanilla to butter and sugars and beat well. Gradually mix in dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover and chill the dough for at least 2 hours.   

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Enclose each mint in about 1 tbsp of chilled dough. Place on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Top each cookie with a pecan half. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

P.S. Great Grammie's recipe called for walnuts, but a) I like pecans better, and b) I already had pecans in the house, so I did a mix to compare. I am sure you can guess which I liked better. 


Anonymous said...

My Nana made these too, they were a famous recipe and I looked for ages for the right mint to put in the middle as I found Andes not the same. I found Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Mint UFO to be the best substitute. Wiltons melting mint chocolate is my second choice, but use Trader Joe's if you can, superior in every way.

wickedcranberry said...

Thanks for the tip! Trader Joe's definitely knows its snacks and treats. I'll give these a try.

Anonymous said...

I remember loving these when I was a little girl. I found in my mother's recipe box the little enclosure with the original recipe on it. It was from a Pillsbury flour bag and it says it's the Grand National Prize Winner... But no clue about what year. I'm guessing late 40's or early 50's. The candy looked like small drops (perhaps a forerunner of chocolate kisses). They were fairly flat so they fit into the 1tablespoon of dough recommended in the recipe. I'm wondering if a chocolate mint kiss cut in half top to bottom would work.

Alice said...

I remember these from when I was a small child. My Mom made them with the small round mint wafers. It had been years since I had been able to find the wafers but did find them at My Mom was thrilled when I found the candies and made the cookies for her.

Anonymous said...

Mom made "Mint Surprise" cookies with Rockwood chocolate wavers, don't remember nuts on top. At 75 yrs I can't believe I found this childhood favorite. A move from MA to CA in 1957 - lost our recipe. Mom
never did find one, thank God for the Internet!