Girl Scout Cookies as an ingredient

The Thin Mint Cookie Truffle I just devoured

My daughter joined Girl Scouts this year, meaning I am having my first Girl Scout Cookie sales experience since the mid 1980s.

The sales setup is different this year. The girls get the goods up front rather than taking orders and delivering a month later. That means I’m hauling bags and boxes of cookies everywhere I go. I’ve been opening a little Girl Scout Cookie store at my desk every day this week. If my co-workers have a mid-afternoon sugar crash, I can fix ‘em up for just $3.50.

I’m fairly obsessed at the moment with the idea this year of using the cookies as ingredients rather than snacks. Girl Scout Cookies are good on their own, sure, but they can be re-purposed into something even better, as I’ve learned each year when judging Cocktails & Cookies, a fundraiser for Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland.

I’m a judge again this year for the event, which is scheduled for Feb. 22 at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center. It asks local chefs to create fabulous desserts using Girl Scout Cookies as a base, then a panel of judges chooses who did it best. There have been some pretty amazing inventions over the years, including the lemon cookie truffles that Kelly Dugan of Velvet Cream Bakery won with in 2012.

My co-worker Melanie used the Thin Mints I sold her on Monday to make these amazing Thin Mint Cookie Truffles, shown above. They were deadly good, and used only four ingredients.

Tickets to Cocktails & Cookies, which also offers It includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, sweet cocktails and more, are $100 a person. Get them here.

Death by Chocolate: I didn’t die

Velvet Cream Bakery's Kelly Duggan, right, is on a roll lately. Not only did she win the top prize at Cocktails & Cookies last month, but she also got judges' choice at Death By Chocolate.

Saturday’s sixth annual Death by Chocolate event was, as always, a good time, even though my sugar crash was pretty severe.

Vendors go all-out for the event, which allows attendees to sample gazillions of chocolate creations, all beautifully displayed and adhering to a pirate theme. It’s a tad overwhelming, not only for the eyes but for the digestive system.

I served on a very interesting panel of judges assembled by the very interesting Joe Stumpe that included Tanya Tandoc of Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, Bonnie Aeschliman of Cooking at Bonnie’s Place, and Chuck Giles, the owner of Neighbors Bar & Grill.

We were pretty unanimous on the winners.

Judges’ Choice went to the amazing Kelly Duggan, owner of Velvet Cream Bakery. She also was the winner at Cocktails & Cookies last month, and it’s becoming apparent she knows her sweets. Her Death by Chocolate entry was an array of chewy and perfect macaroons in several flavors, including orange and lime margarita, Limoncello and Mayan chocolate.

Cocoa Dolce, which brought rum shots encased in chocolate, won not only “Most Creative Use of Chocolate,” but they also won the People’s Choice award.

Best Presentation went to Buckingham Cakes, which put out a beautiful display of beer-infused mini-cupcakes. (I tried one flavored like Blue Moon, one of my favorite brews.) And the Best Savory award, given to one of the few vendors offering non-dessert items, went to Two Brothers BBQ, which offered a delicious barbecue sandwich served with chocolate sauce.

Here are a few more pics from the event, courtesy of my date, photog Jaime Green.

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Velvet Cream Bakery’s bite of heaven

Kelly Duggan, owner of Velvet Cream Bakery and the winning dessert maker at Saturday's Cocktails & Cookies event.

Saturday night’s Cocktails & Cookies event at the Drury Plaza Broadview once again sent me into a sugar coma, but I regained consciousness in time to gather all the pertinent information about the Chef of the Hour, Kelly Duggan.

Duggan is the owner of Velvet Cream Bakery, and her cookie truffle was the winning dessert at the event, in which local chefs try to create the best dessert using Girl Scout Cookies as one of the ingredients. This is the second year I’ve helped judge at the event, which is a fundraiser for Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland. It’s a tough job…

Duggan, who started her bakery out of her home two years ago, created an amazing bite of lemon heaven she called a “cookie truffle.”

She used the Lemonades Girl Scout cookies, combining them with cream cheese for a soft center that she encased in white chocolate and topped with a limoncello lemon curd. (She’s posted the recipe on her blog.)

My fellow judges, KSN personality Barbara Baan and Old Chicago East manager Sean DiGiovanni, and I were pretty united in our love of her citrus-y creation, which packed a lot of flavor into a little package.

Duggan also told me that soon she will begin selling her cake pops and cake truffles out of W.O.W. Cakes, a wedding cake business at 2724 N. Amidon.

Cocktails & Cookies had an awesome invention called FanCam, sort of a social media photo booth. Here are me and my date, the lovely Katie Grover.

All the desserts were pretty fabulous, and other entrants included Chef Ben George of Tallgrass Country Club and Adam Courtney of AVI.

You’ll have another chance to sample Duggan’s creations at next month’s Death by Chocolate, an Exploration Place fundraiser scheduled for March 31.

I’m a judge at that one, too, so I’m already prepping for my next sugar coma.