Desserts First Is Girl Scouts All Grown Up

Sorry fellas, 2012 has been declared the “Year of the Girl.”

The slogan was created by the Girl Scouts to mark the 100th anniversary of the organization, which was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Ga. on March 12, 1912.

Along with the centennial celebration, here in Louisville, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana will host its sixth annual Desserts First, which has arrived just in time for the three-month-long cookie season continuing through March 18.

The popular event features a competition among local chefs who will create original desserts and hors d’oeuvres using Girl Scout Cookies as the key ingredient.

“I actually went and visited (a Desserts First event) in Detroit and thought we could maybe do this and do it better,” said Suzy Gessner, director of development of Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana. “This event is for adults. We have young professionals that come and we sell corporate tables. We’ve even had people (come) on their first dates before. It’s a time to leave the kids at home and enjoy Girl Scouts all grown up.”

Desserts First will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at The Kentucky International Convention Center, 221 S. 4th St.

Those who attend will be able to taste the various Girl Scout cookie-inspired creations of chefs from such restaurants and businesses as Jack Fry’s, Bakery Cafe, Consumers Choice Coffee and Sweet Surrender.

The winner of best dessert will receive the Golden Whisk award, while the Golden Grater award will be given to the best hors d’oeuvre.

Papalino’s, BoomBozz Pizza and other local eateries will also compete for the Golden Wheel award, the prize for this year’s new pizza category.

Marty Rosen, food writer for The Courier-Journal, Megan Malone, blogger of www.megabiteslouisville.com, and Ann Evans, executive director of the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion, will participate as the evening’s judges. The three will select the winner of each category, while the public will also vote for the People’s Choice Award for favorite dish.

“You’d be surprised on some of the hors d’oeuvres,” Gessner said. “We’ve had everything from lamb rolled in Samoa cookies to chicken saté that had Do-si-dos peanut butter filling and a Samoa coffee drink.”

Desserts First will offer a cash bar and silent auction that will include tickets to sporting events, getaway packages and memorabilia.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, Desserts First will also give away a pearl necklace from Haas Jewelers valued at $1,000 to one lucky winner in honor of Girl Scout founder Low having sold her valuable necklace of rare matched pearls in order to finance operations of Girl Scouts in the early days.

“The main thing is to raise awareness and to connect with our community,” said Lora Tucker, CEO of Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana and retired U.S. Army colonel. “It’s an incredible event and fun event, and (Girl Scout) Cookies really allow girls to do great things. (Girl Scouts) was without a doubt one of the cornerstones of my life. I had the opportunity to come back to my home state and lead this council after leading incredible young Americans, and now I’m trying to make a difference in our girls here in Kentucky.”

Tickets for Desserts First are $50 per person; $1,000 for corporate tables of 10. Proceeds will benefit Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, which serves more than 23,000 girls and 6,700 adult members in 64 counties.

For reservations and information, visit www.gskentuckiana.org or call 502.636.0900.

Recipe of Past Desserts First Gold Whisk Award Winner

Salted Caramel Coconut Tart
By Stacey Borah, Sweet Surrender Dessert Cafe

Ingredients for all components

  • 2 boxes of Samoas
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 qt cream
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 14 oz bittersweet chocolate (small pieces)
  • 1/8 tsp coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350

Spray 2 to 10” cake pans with non-stick spray and line them with plastic wrap, making sure that the plastic is as smooth as possible and there are no large air bubbles.

Make the cookie base:
Place 2 entire boxes of Samoa Girl Scout cookies (minus a few for garnish) in the food processor. Process until fine and sandy with the appearance of graham cracker crumbs. Press crumbs into first prepared pan and bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Make the sponge:
(adapted from “Simply Sensational Desserts” by Francois Payard):

  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups dried shredded coconut

Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl (or in a stand mixer) and whisk on high until it has tripled in volume. Then, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the coconut. Spread in an even layer in the second prepared cake pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Make the caramel:

  • 2 1/3 cups  heavy cream
  • ½  cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Place cream and sugar in the largest heavy bottomed sauce pan that you own. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until thick and caramel colored, stirring very frequently. This mixture just loves to boil over, hence using the largest pan you own. Once it is thick and a medium caramel color, remove from stove and cool.

Make the ganache:

  • 14 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 2/3 cup cream

Place chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream to a boil, then immediately pour boiling cream over the chocolate. Whisk until smooth and cohesive. Chill until thick but still pliable.

Leave your baked cookie base in its original plastic lined pan, and spread some cooled caramel over it in a thick, even layer. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon of coarse salt over the caramel, making sure to spread it as evenly as possible. Take the coconut sponge layer out of its plastic (carefully) and press it on the caramel layer. Then spread an even layer of ganache over that. Finally, take any extra caramel and ganache and drizzle them over the top.

Place the tart  in the freezer for roughly an hour, until it chills and is set. Then gently tug on the plastic wrap to release it from the pan. Discard plastic wrap and place tart on serving dish. Makes 16 generous servings.

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