I cannot tell a lie. The secret ingredient for these cookies are Andes mints, but Creme de Menthe just sounded so much fancier and technically, it does say it on the package, so there.
Our journey begins at Christmastime, many years ago in a small town in Connecticut (not the New York side, but the Rhode Island side). My grandparents are over Christmas morning, along with my Aunt and Uncle for brunch, a tradition that I have brought back to life, mostly because I love Christmas and I love brunch and I love my family. Yada, yada, yada. It’s present time. My brother and I have suspiciously similarly wrapped presents from our elders. We open them. A Christmas ornament from McDonald’s featured Disney movie of the year (I still have Sebastian from The Little Mermaid, the dog Billy Joel voiced in Oliver & Company and I wanna say Bianca from The Rescuers) and a box of thin mints. Over the years, the ornaments went away and got replaced with cash (greedy me goes “Yay!”) and the thin mints would rotate back and forth with Andes Mints. Ah yes, Andes Mints. That gloriously glimmering tiny rectangle of emerald green foil that unwraps to reveal a ridiculously delicious tiny chocolate mint candy. So. Freaking. Good.
Be warned, this next part is going to make me sound more like a New-York-Side-of-Connecticut-Person. At my family’s annual sleigh ride, there’d be a little plate that would display Andes mints. I couldn’t touch them until the party. My mom knew. She knew that once I got into them, there’d be no stopping me and rather than a little plate of treats tucked away on the coffee table beneath candles, a bowl of nuts and all the adults alcoholic beverages, there’d be little balls of glittering green strewn all over the house. Those small morsels of heaven are too intoxicating. When you have one, you tell yourself that one more won’t hurt because they’re small. And then you say that a third won’t be bad. Before you know it the box is empty, you’re lying in a pool of self disgust and green wrappers, crying to yourself and thinking “WHY!?!” but then you see that one of those wrappers still contains an uneaten candy and you scarf it down and remember “Oh yeah, THAT’S why!”
Yet, here it is, not Christmas. I did good this year. I kept my Andes mints for a whole month after. I would LOVE to tell you that I actually was able to avoid eating it totally and used it only in the recipe. But that would be another lie. And Santa is watching. The truth is, the box I used for this recipe I bought on my own. After two gifted boxes had been eaten…and then two more I had purchased were eaten. THESE ARE MY WEAKNESS. WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME!? (Insert photo of Dorothy Zbornack proclaiming that.)
Believe me, I had good intentions. I wanted to try something different with my annual supply of Andes mints. I wanted to use them to make ganache. But I ate them. I wanted to put them in a pie. But I ate them. I wanted to make them into a cookie. That, I did. After I ate a whole bunch. What better way to make your Andes mints last even longer than by putting them into a cookie. It’s easy to eat an entire box of chocolates in a sitting, but cookies? All that butter, all that sugar, that fills you up. And if you’re real smart, you’ll make the cookies, scoop them out and freeze the dough unbaked. Then, all throughout the year you can have the fancy-sounding-but-sorta-white-trash cookies. It’s like jamming and preserving!
The cookie recipe itself is actually pretty standard. You cream your butter and sugar, add in some wet ingredients, then your dry ones and finally fold in those mint-green jewels. Scoop it out and bake it. In all honesty, I shouldn’t have wasted all this energy on writing those last three sentences. But I’m finding it hard to stop writing about these delicious dough disks. One little detail that I really liked was that while the chocolate melts into the dough (much like chocolate chips), the mint filling itself never fully melts. So when you bite into a dark brown cookie, it’s studded with pastel green bursts…that is, if you find the will power to stop yourself and actually stare at a cookie instead of eating it even though it’s 5-inches in front of you.