How much of our lives are driven by fantasy? I’m not talking about delusions by the way. I’m referring to what most other people call hopes and dreams. With the popularity of Instagram feeds that make you go all I-want-that-life, to the even more impossibly lovely things you can come across on Pinterest, it’s almost too easy to spin bigger webs of fantasy in the mind. Things that you aspire to and want to achieve, so to speak.
I’m certainly not immune to these thoughts. I’ve always had an active imagination, and if anything being exposed to Instagram and Pinterest has only fuelled that some more. You know all those shots of absolutely gorgeous homes and spaces that look like they belong in magazines? I think those are what affect my fantasies the most. My dream home.
In my mind, my dream home has a small quaint bedroom with a soft-as-a-cloud bed; a spacious office/studio area with tall windows and plenty of brainstorming space; a big library with a window seat and humongous shelves lined with a gazillion books; and an even larger kitchen with a centre island counter and plenty of tablespace for prep-work as well as eating.
And then there has to be a garden. I’m not all too ambitious about this garden but maybe some tomatoes here, calamansi there. I know a mango tree is out of the question though it would be great to have one. But there definitely has to be herbs in there. Basil, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, among others… And of course mint.
Right now we have mint in the garden alongside some basil and bird’s eye chillis. But how nice would it be if you would simply need to step out your backdoor any time you want to cook something that requires fresh herbs? It feels a little different to say that you use your own grown-from-the-garden greens somehow. Makes you feel a little prouder I think. At least that was how I felt while I was making this Fresh Mint Chocolate Truffle Cookies recipe. I was excited to be able to sit here after the fact and shout to the world, I baked something using mint from my garden! Come look!
Even if you all probably have better home gardens than I do. 😉
Our mint bears leaves that aren’t quite big so instead of traditionally-sized cookies, I had to make mine bite-sized ones to complement the size of the leaves. I ended up with a lot more pieces of smaller cookies, which always means more cookies for everyone!
Part of the charm of these cookies– the main reason why I was drawn to make them really– is how beautiful I thought they looked. As if a leaf had fallen to the dark brown earth and decided to make a home on it. Without the mint leaf the cookie would look ordinary and wrinkled. It wouldn’t play off the same earthy effect.
The mint is incorporated into these cookies first chopped up into the batter, and then as a candied decor on top. And while one would think the presence of mint would create a more natural sort of minty-ness to these, I find that my cookies didn’t have much minty flavour at all! Perhaps a teensy drop of peppermint next time to rectify it, alongside the chopped fresh leaves.
When working with mint, adding too much will actually endanger your baked goods. Nobody wants cookies that taste like toothpaste, so make sure to keep a light hand. It’s always easier to add more than to remove excess.
But the really important matter here are the cookies themselves. They claim to be chocolate truffle cookies, which gave me a pretty good idea of what they should be like in terms of texture. Crunchy outside with a gooey smooth-to-the-bite centre. (And yes the cookies delivered!) Apart from looking extremely earthy, these were amazingly chocolatey too. One bite and you’ll see the soft chocolatey interior that reminds of brownies and cake truffles. The chocolate flavour is deep and definitely stronger than the mint, which to my brother Jason who dislikes mint, is absolutely perfect.
Makes about 16 to 18 mini cookies
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped very finely (or use a few drops of peppermint extract)
- about 12 to 18 leaves, with size and number depending on cookies produced
- 1 egg white
- 2 to 3 tablespoons superfine white sugar
- 1. Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl, and heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. Give it a stir and melt some more using 10 second increments, until smooth and liquid. Let cool briefly.
- 2. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- 3. In another large bowl, combine the sugar and eggs. Beat vigorously, either by hand or using an electric beater, until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in vanilla extract, chopped mint leaves (or peppermint), and the slightly cooled chocolate-butter mixture. Beat until combined.
- 4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients and the remaining chocolate chips. Set the dough aside and let cool. (The dough can also be refrigerated at this point for later baking. It's easier to handle once cold.)
- 5. Lay leaves flat on a chopping board. Whisk the egg white and brush it lightly on top of the leaves, then dust with sugar and let dry for about 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and line baking sheets with parchment.
- 6. Scoop about half a tablespoon of dough at a time and roll into small balls. (Or make the size of the cookies as large as the mint leaves you have. They spread once baked so there will be enough space for the candied mint leaves to go on top.) Place them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake cookies for 7 to 10 minutes, or until edges are set but centers are still soft.
- 7. Let cool until good enough to handle, then press candied mint leaves into the centers of the cookies until a slight indentation is formed. If the leaves don't adhere, you can brush the center of the warm cookies with a bit of leftover egg white before pressing the mint leaf on. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.