"Save the planet: It's the only one with Girl Scout Cookies" read T-shirts given out at the Girl Scouts Just Desserts competition, and after a night of cookie-themed tastings, I was hard-pressed to find a better reason.
Eight chefs including Randy Evans of Haven, Dessert Gallery's Sara Brook, L.J. Wiley, and Fluff Bake Bar's Rebecca Masson were each assigned a Girl Scout cookie to incorporate into a unique dessert. Top selling Girl Scouts were also chosen as chef assistants and assistant judges. My judging partner, Megan Alam of The Woodlands, has already sold over 400 boxes of cookies in the first two weeks of sales, more than doubling the sales I made over my entire, undistinguished Girl Scout career.
We started with a creamy and tangy lemon cream tart from Dessert Gallery, which won "Best Use of Cookie," with Lemonades, then stopped short at Randy Evans' awesome space-themed table — complete with styrofoam solar system model and upside-down display plates that evoked UFOs — all created to complement his Thin Mint moonpies. It earned Haven the "Most Fun Table Display" award.
L.J. Wiley turned shortbread cookies into an addictively sweet and crunchy granola that won "Most Camp Friendly" — and also my eternal devotion should he ever go into the cereal business.
Amy's Ice Cream won "Celebrity Judges Favorite" with a heavenly ice cream-centered dessert that incorporated the Caramel Delight/Samoa cookie into both the ice cream and bar element that sandwiched it. Of course the adorable, pint-sized brownie helpers who were adding the smoked coconut topping and proudly handing out slices might have influenced my vote just a little bit — or maybe it was my lifelong obsession with Samoas.
My judging partner Megan instead favored a frothy banana pudding dessert with a crumbly bottom layer of peanut butter Do-Si-Do cookies by Ooh La La Dessert Boutique's Vanessa O'Donnell. She wasn't alone — O'Donnell won "Girl Scout Judges' Favorite."
San Antonio's Choco Patisserie was awarded "Most Creative" for their dainty layered Thanks-a-Lot cookie creation — with a toasted marshmallow topping, it was like a creamy s'more with a cherry on top) while George R. Brown Convention Center received "Most Delicious" for a chunky peanut butter and vanilla ice cream made of Peanut Butter Patties.
Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar created adorable lollipops of gingerbread cheesecake (using the new Shout Out cookies), which were dipped in chocolate and topped with sprinkles. They won "Best Dessert Presentation" as well as the people's choice award.
The night as a whole was a sweet reminder about the role that Girl Scout cookies play in supporting the organization and encouraging girls to strive and succeed as entrepreneurs. It was also a reminder that I need a box of Thin Mints, stat.