Like a lot of other people at Hazon’s third annual food conference, I found myself shopping at the Farmers’ Market on Sunday morning. I hadn’t really planned to do this, but when someone asked me to meet there – I can’t even remember for what – I had difficulty resisting the urge to pick up a few things. Alright, quite a few things. Chocolate, coffee, maple syrup, red cabbages, onions, garlic, kiwis, and Granny Smith apples. All organic and sold by or fairly sourced directly from the producers. In other words, perfectly virtuous foods.
Then there were the cookies. When I picked up two bags of faux-cream filled chocolate sandwiches at the table of overstock from the conference kitchen, the volunteer on the other side glanced over at me suspiciously. I explained that I’m a baker and would use them for pie crust sometime soon. That didn’t lead to further conversation, so I placed my donation in the honor box and moved on.
The cookies in question were not exactly treyf. They were Newman-O’s, a product of Newman’s Own Organics. If an Orthodox Union hekhsher wasn’t enough, the packaging identified them as wheat- and dairy-free, made with organic flour and sugar by a company that “has given over $200 million to charities worldwide SINCE 1982.” What’s not to love? Well, for one thing, the cookies. They’re okay, but have the slightly bitter aftertaste common to baked goods made primarily with barley and rice flours. Perhaps I’m being unfair since I rarely eat store-bought cookies.
After a couple of days on my kitchen counter, I realized that the bigger challenge was what to do with all these cookies. Two packages are enough for 3-4 pie crusts. I didn’t want to make that many pies or eat all the leftovers. I could give some away, but that’s too easy. Instead, I decided to reuse them in a different way. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot and writing some about using what we have on hand to bake at home for ourselves and others. When everyone left my house last night to go off and celebrate the start of 2009, I turned on the oven, coarsely chopped some cookies, and made a pan of Mint Cookie Brownies. I still got to see the fireworks and they’ve been much appreciated today.
You can add extra cookies to your favorite brownie recipe or follow mine below.
Mint Cookie Brownies
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
8 oz. butter, margarine or a combination
4 large eggs
2 tsp. peppermint extract
1½ c. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1¼ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. chocolate sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that 1-2 inches overhang two sides.
Melt the chocolate and butter or margarine together in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave. Stir until smooth.
Whisk together the eggs, peppermint extract, sugar, and salt. Add the chocolate mixture by pouring in steady stir while whisking to combine. Stir in the flour, mixing until fully integrated. Fold in the chopped cookies. Mix until just combined.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool and then lift in one piece from the pan using the edges of parchment paper. Remove well-done edges from each side and slice into bars.
These brownies are good right after they’re baked, but their taste and texture are even better the next day. To make a non-dairy version, use parve margarine, chocolate, and cookies. Many margarines contain dairy ingredients; check packages carefully. Some unsweetened chocolate and cookies, including Newman-O’s, have no milk-based ingredients, but are processed on machinery that is also used for products containing dairy. Newman-O’s are wheat-, but not gluten-free, as marked on the packaging.**
Look for other budget stretching ideas in “Recession Remedies” on The Parve Baker.