This week’s recipe: Homemade Thin Mints
Last weekend, Mark and I looked after my two-year-old niece because everyone else in the family was out of town. We stayed at my parents’ apartment, since they have a crib for her. My parents have a big, boxy TV from the late 90s and a VHS collection to match, with only basic cable and definitely no streaming services, so once we put my niece to bed, we decided to raid the VHS cabinet. I had a lot of thoughts about our choice, the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. For those of you who don’t know the plot—and shame on you—the movie stars a prelapsarian Lindsay Lohan as both Hallie and Annie, twin girls who meet for the first time when their divorced parents, Liz (Natasha Richardson) and Nick (Dennis Quaid), coincidentally send them to the same summer camp. Annie, who has lived with her mother in London all her life, and Hallie, who has lived with her father in California, decide to switch places, on the theory that their parents will have to meet up in order to switch them back and will, duh, fall in love as soon as they lay eyes on each other. Does it work? Of course it does! I must have watched this movie so many times in my childhood that I wore out the tape (or maybe that’s just the crappy late-90s VHS quality), but I haven’t watched it in ages, and there were a few things that, uh, stuck out to me this time around. I hereby present:
Thoughts on Watching The Parent Trap, 19 Years Later
-I know that Liz and Nick don’t have much of a relationship but if I were Liz and were sending my kid to camp in the States, I would probably give Nick a heads up in case of the admittedly extremely rare coincidence that he would ALSO choose to send his kid to a random camp thousands of miles from home.
-Why does everyone have such a hard time distinguishing between Hallie and Annie at camp? Annie has long hair and a British accent, it’s not that difficult to tell them apart.
-I don’t know if it’s because I always preferred girly girls to tomboys (I was an Ashley, not a Mary Kate), but I always like Annie a lot better than Hallie, and that still holds up. First of all, Hallie starts the whole feud by pulling Annie into the trough and then dissing her in front of everyone after Annie makes an innocent mistake and then tries to help Hallie. Annie is forced to cut off all her hair but Hallie refuses to make an equivalent sacrifice by letting her ear holes close up. And during the whole switcheroo, Annie is forced to be clever and resourceful under trying circumstances while Hallie gallivants around at photo shoots and drinks merlot and refuses to help her sister out until things really spiral out of control. Team Annie forever.
-What is an “Isolation Cabin,” and why is it so much nicer than any bunk from the summer camp I used to go to? Is it really isolation if there’s another girl in there with you? Do the parents know that they’re sending their children to a camp that employs (semi-)solitary confinement as punishment? I mean, there appears to be no adult supervision at this camp other than the camp director and her daughter so I guess the standards are pretty lax.
-“Yes, we are completely identical, we have the same birthday, but what it really takes for us to realize that we’re twins is that we both have half of a ripped-up photo! Isn’t it lucky that, of all the pictures that possibly exist of our parents, both of them chose to give us half of this ripped-up photo?”
-Hallie and Annie’s whole plan is predicated on the idea that their parents will be forced to see each other again in order to switch them back. The assumption that their Liz and Nick would switch them back in person seems like quite a stretch for two exes who hate each other enough to have purposefully avoided contact for 11 years; who have seemingly unlimited financial resources at their disposal; and who were willing to put their kids on planes unaccompanied to fly to and from camp. Especially Liz – it’s Martin who brings Annie to camp, not her, and she doesn’t even bother to pick her daughter up from the airport when she comes home. That’s pretty cold, Liz.
-“Last call, Annie James!” says the assistant camp director, as if Annie’s limo is going to leave for the airport without her.
-I know he’s European so it’s hard to tell, but there is no way that Martin is straight. But of course he ends up with Chessie because they’re both servants! It’s as inevitable as two black sidekick characters ending up together in a Hallmark Channel movie.
-I didn’t know this was a Nancy Meyers film when it first came out, because I didn’t know who Nancy Meyers was when I was ten years old, but now it’s blindingly obvious to me. This movie is nothing but rich people wearing gorgeous clothes and living inside of an Architectural Digest spread.
-Why is everyone acting like Hallie is a goddamned genius for choosing a white hat (instead of a black hat) to go with a white wedding gown? That seems like the most obvious call in history. I also have a hard time believing that the photographer would be cool with an 11-year-old invading his photo shoot, even an 11-year-old as cute as 1998-era Lindsay Lohan.
-Meredith (Nick’s girlfriend) is 26! I feel old.
-Annie (as Hallie) tells Chessie that she was talking on the phone to her friend who was on vacation in Bora Bora. When the movie came out, everyone in my class assumed that Bora Bora was a made-up place. I eventually figured out that it was real, but was fuzzy on the details, so when bin Laden escaped Tora Bora a few years later, I was deeply confused as to why anyone would choose to vacation there.
-So Hallie goes off to camp, and during the eight weeks she’s there, Nick meets Meredith, starts dating her, and decides to marry her, all with no input from the so-called most important person in his life, his daughter. What is it supposed to say about Nick’s character that he was so easily taken in by this obvious gold-digger? Unless he’s been living like a monk since his divorce, he’s presumably familiar with the type and should be able to see right through her. Or maybe he has been living like a monk and he’s just so desperate to get some that he’ll do whatever it takes.
-I don’t care how cultured you are, I don’t know why you would start ranting in your non-native language when you’re exceptionally stressed.
-Ugh that scene where Meredith runs her fingers through Nick’s chest hair is so awkward and tonally inappropriate for a kids’ movie.
-The scene on the boat has brought home that this movie is based on an extremely shallow understanding of adult relationships. People get divorced for lots of reasons. There’s probably a reason—many reasons, actually—why Nick and Liz aren’t together. Reason 1: After the opening montage showing Nick and Liz’s wedding, it says “11 years and nine months later.” That, of course, makes no sense, since Hallie and Annie are about 11 years and nine months old at the start of the movie, and Liz was not heavily pregnant the night she got married, but whatever. Let’s assume that Liz got pregnant essentially the night she and Nick met. Hallie and Annie both refer to their parents breaking up shortly after they were born, which means that Nick and Liz’s marriage lasted less than a year. Even most celebrity marriages last longer than that! There have to be underlying reasons. One of which is Reason 2: Professional fulfillment. Nick and Liz are both very successful in their careers…on opposite sides of the planet. I suppose that Liz could move her wedding dress design business to Napa, which as everyone knows is the fashion capital of the world, or maybe Nick could try cultivating some of those famous London vineyards. But that wouldn’t solve the real problem, Reason 3: Liz is an abusive spouse. She screamed at Nick and threw a hairdryer at his head! They laugh about it later like it’s no big deal, but if a man did that to a woman, you would tell her to get the eff out of that relationship. Which Nick did! And he should probably not return. Though to cut Liz some slack, it would seem that she was pregnant for at least three-quarters of the time they were married, so maybe she was just hormonal.
-I think we are supposed to see it as some sort of romantic resolution when Nick says that he didn’t go after Liz when she left because he wasn’t sure that he wanted her to. But surely they must have communicated in order to work out the (world’s dumbest) custody arrangement? Unless Liz packed Baby Annie in her suitcase, left Baby Hallie with Nick, and that just became the status quo?
-I do have a hard time believing that someone who is as fit-looking as Meredith would have such a hard time doing a not-very-arduous hike.
-Meredith threw a rock at Nick’s head. Well, more of a pebble. Guess he has a thing for abusive women.
-If only California had known that the solution to the drought was to have the twins part from each other. It always rains when people are sad.
-Martin proposes to Chessie at Nick and Liz’s wedding. Dick move, Martin.
-The movie ends with the song “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love),” which is funny because their marriage will probably only last a year again, maybe less!
So anyway, here are some cookies. Anyone who has ever had the exquisite pleasure of tasting a Thin Mint—particularly one fresh out of the freezer—knows why their allure eclipses that of all other Girl Scout offerings. Samoas, Tagalongs, and Do-Si-Dos all kneel before their acknowledged ruler. So the Internet teems with attempts to recreate them in all their crispy, minty, chocolate-y goodness. Below is just one attempt, which did not taste all that much like a Thin Mint but was still delicious. I found that I needed more chocolate for the coating than the recipe called for, but be sure to keep the cookies cold until you eat it, because that melty chocolate coating will get all over your fingers and stain your white dining room chairs, dammit.
Homemade Thin Mints
For the cookie
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg white
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
For the coating
- 12 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Make the cookies
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk; set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg white followed by the vanilla and peppermint extract. The dough may appear curdled, this is normal. Gradually add the flour in 3 additions, beating just until incorporated after each one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time. Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it to a 1/4 inch thickness. Leaving the dough in between the parchment paper, transfer it to a baking sheet. It’s okay to stack the slabs of rolled dough. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or freeze it for 1 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working with one disk at a time. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and cut circles with a 2-inch cookie cutter. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 1 and 1/2 inches apart. Gather the scraps of dough, re-roll and chill to continue cutting and baking.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cookies feel firm to the touch. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the coating
Combine the chocolate, oil, and extract in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir continuously until melted and smooth.
Using a fork, dip each cookie into the melted chocolate, turning to coat and tapping off any excess. Place cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the cookies until set, about 10 minutes. Cookies are best when served cold.
Make ahead tip
The dough can be rolled out and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Cut and bake as directed, even straight from the freezer.
Baked (uncoated or coated) cookies will keep for up to 7 days in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer.