It didn’t take long for Christopher Mendez, the new pastry chef at Garfrerick’s Cafe in Oxford, to capture the attention of the local fine-dining crowd. "Have you tried the baked Alaska?" was the question of the day.
Mendez, 22, has been with Garfrerick’s for about a year. A graduate of Kendall College in Chicago, he decided to relocate southwards after a good friend decided to attend Jacksonville State University. Calhoun County has turned out to be a great place to get experience as a pastry chef. "This is where I’m going to get creative," Mendez said.
In that spirit, The Star recently asked Mendez to create desserts inspired by Girl Scout cookies.
The trademark Girl Scout cookie is Mendez’s personal favorite. For this dessert, he created a mint-chocolate ganache studded with bits of baked meringue, served alongside a scoop of decadent chocolate-mint sorbet.
The chocolate-peanut butter patty was Mendez’s favorite cookie when he was a kid. On top of a cinnamon shortbread crust, he layered chocolate mousse and peanut butter cream, topped with chocolate glaze and garnished with a caramelized peanut and coffee caramel.
Everybody at the restaurant asked Mendez to create a dessert based on these chocolate-coconut cookies. His dessert features a coconut macaroon dipped in chocolate, paired with oatmeal-almond crumble topped with honey whipped cream and garnished with a caramel-orange square.
Mendez said he loved the light, crunchy texture and lemon flavor of these cookies. He used that as inspiration for a lemon souffle with browned butter sauce, served with lemon chutney and a lacy almond florentine cookie.
Mendez also created recipes for the home kitchen featuring Girl Scout cookies as ingredients:
THIN MINT ICE CREAM PIE
- 1 package Thin Mint cookies
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 pint mint-chocolate chip ice cream
- 1 container Cool Whip
To make the pie crust: Using a food processor, finely grind the cookies. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs start to stick together. Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie plate and freeze. When ready to serve, spread ice cream into frozen pie crust, then top with Cool Whip.
TAGALONG CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BARS
- 1 package Tagalong cookies
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
- 1 ½ cups peanut butter
- Caramel sauce
To make the crust: Chop cookies with a knife. Toss with melted butter. Press into the bottom of a sheet pan to form a crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Make chocolate pudding according to package directions, then pour pudding over crust. Freeze until solid.
Spread peanut butter on top of pudding layer, and freeze until solid.
When ready to serve, cut into squares and top with caramel sauce.
SAVANNAH SMILES LEMON ANGEL CUPCAKES
- 1 box angel food cake mix
- ¼ cup browned butter (see note)
- 1 container frosting (vanilla or lemon)
- Lemon marmalade
- 1 package Savannah Smiles cookies
Make angel food cake batter according to package directions, and bake in muffin tins. When cupcakes have cooled, add browned butter to frosting and frost cupcakes. Top with a spoonful of lemon marmalade, then garnish with a cookie.
Note: To make browned butter, melt butter over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally. Use a light-colored pan so you can keep track of the color. The butter will foam as it cooks. Keep cooking until butter has turned a dark-brown color. Browned butter adds a toasted, nutty flavor to foods. It can be used in place of regular butter in baked goods, or drizzled over pasta.