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February 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Girl Scout cookies: Thinking outside the box

chocolate-pb-cheesecakes-1.jpg

Photo by First Look Then Cook. It’s chocolate. It’s peanut butter. It’s Do-si-Dos. It’s Tagalogs. It’s cheesecake!

Thin Mints stand pretty well on their own, as do most Girl Scout cookies. But when you start considering them as an ingredient instead of a dessert, you’re definitely thinking outside the box.

When the Girl Scouts of Western Washington asked local food bloggers to do just that, the participants got as creative as if the contestants on Chopped had donned green sashes and merit badges.

One of the five finalists chopped up caramelly, coconutty Samoas cookies, combined them with Szechuan peppercorns and panko, and used the mixture to coat chicken tenders, which she served on top of a noodle salad. (When developing the recipe, “I won’t lie, I opened up a box of Thin Mints and ate a few right away, just to get the creative juices flowing,” wrote the Culinary Institute of America graduate who runs Snacking in the Kitchen.)

Samoas went savory again for a concoction called Samoa Curry Arancini (rice balls…chicken…and chocolate-coconut cookies?), a winning recipe from Seattleite Siiri Sampson of A Half Cup. Those same Samoas were the first thought of a third finalist, the cooking teacher who runs Talk of Tomatoes, but she decided in the end to push the (pasta) envelope and use lemon cookies instead to create a savory lemon-shrimp ravioli. The B&B owner who runs The Clever Culinarian went for frozen lemonade tarts using the new Savannah Smiles cookies, remembering all the smiles scouting brought her as a girl. (“I even remember learning how to cover matches with wax to protect them from the rain while camping – only in Western Washington would a girl need to know that,” she wrote.) And “First Look, Then Cook” took the other finalist spot with a mashup called “Chocolate Peanut Butter Tag-a-Dos Cheesecake“.

Want to — no pun intended — weigh in? Vote on the top three contenders at the contest site here. You’ve got until March 1. And, wouldn’t you know it, the cookies themselves go on sale the next day, when the winner will be announced. I’d like to say that I’m inspired to experiment and try cooking-with-cookies at home, but, honestly, my boxes don’t usually make it as far as the kitchen.

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