Redundant Lemon Savannah Smiles: Girl Scout Cookie Showdown

What better use for an extra case of Girl Scout cookies than a Chow Bella Showdown? In years past we've challenged our contributors to make something delicious out of Thin Mints and Trefoils. This time: Savannah Smiles. Stay tuned for more recipes and a decision from our "judge," web editor Eric Tstetsi.

This was a difficult challenge. I initially tried making a Savannah Smiles-based tiramisu with lemoncello and chocolate milk, but sadly it was just too much lemon. Instead I struck upon a simple idea: Make a cookie crust, fill it with lemon curd, and top it with a delicious berry sauce. I made this recipe three times. The first two were nearly perfect, so I was confident going into my third preparation -- confident enough to try and push the envelope.

Alas, my reach exceeded my grasp and the above photo is the end result. While it looks okay, it is in fact horribly flawed. But all is not lost dear readers! You can learn from my mistakes and build upon my earlier victories.

First, let's take a look at what went wrong.

Forensic Baking:
The Curse of the Curd
Looking above the first thing you'll notice is that my filling is not very appealing looking. It is sunken and appears to have retracted from the walls of the crust. A lemon curd is basically a custard and like all custard fillings, it is extremely sensitive to overcooking. The first two times I felt the curd was undercooked and too loose. The final time, I cooked it until it boiled and that is why my curd looks so.... deflated.

Blueberries Were Never Meant to Be With Blackberries
That's about it. Lesson learned. Separately they taste great but together they just taste, bland. Learn how to make berry coulis it's quick, easy and everyone will think it is a fancy sauce.

Pack With Your Hands
My first two attempts at a cookie crust were hand packed. They emerged from the oven golden brown and delicate. The final time I packed them using the bottom of a prep bowl. The result? Impenetrable cookie crust that threatened to crack people's fillings. Hand pack it, it's worth the time and it will look and taste fantastic.

How to do it right:
This recipe is actually three recipes:

1. Cookie Crust
What you'll need:
1 bag Girl Scout cookies
7 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange so you have a middle
2. Upend your bag of cookies into a food processor. Pulse until coarsely ground but stop before you've turned the cookies back into flour.
3. Add your sugar. Pulse until combined.
4. Add your melted butter, pulse until completely combined, scrapping down the walls as necessary.
5. Grab your muffin pan, line with your silicon cupcake liner of choice.
6. HAND PACK your cookie crust into the liners. You want the cookies to take the form of the mold but still slightly crumbly. The curd will help hold the crust together during baking.
7. Prepare the lemon curd (link to recipe below). Place cookie crusts in oven as your curd begins to thicken. They should be warm before you go to the next step.
8. Carefully pour hot lemon curd into each cup so that the curd is level with or slightly higher than your crusts.
9. Bake at 375 degrees.
10. Check curd after 10 minutes. Baking times can vary greatly between ovens but it is better to pull your curds out early and slightly runny, than pull them out late and have them be sad. You're looking for a center that jiggles easily.
11. Allow to cool for at least an hour. We found it was best just to put them in the fridge as soon as they've cooled down enough to do so without melting anything in the fridge. They'll easily keep for a day or two if covered in the fridge.

2. Lemon Curd
I used the Cook's Illustrated lemon tart recipe. Truthfully, any lemon curd recipe but this one seemed the most straight forward. The key here is not to overcook your curd. It's mostly eggs so if you overcook them, you'll just have lemon flavored scrambled eggs.

3. Berry Coulis
Coulis is incredibly simple to make. I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe but it looks significantly like this recipe.

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Ando Muneno
Contact: Ando Muneno