OK, so I have a looong back story to the reason behind this blog. If you came here just because you saw the words “thin mint” or “math” and want to get to the nitty-gritty of it all, scroll down…and then keep going…keep going… and stop when you see THIN MINT MATH.
It all started one afternoon, not long ago, when my husband and I were out shopping. We saw the local Girl Scout troop was selling their famous cookies, so we stopped to buy our annual allotment of minty chocolaty goodness. I know it sounds glutenous, but I told my husband he should buy 3 boxes for the two of us (you can always throw them in the freezer, I reasoned). He bought five.
We raced home with our cookies and quickly dug into the first box. Before we knew it, two boxes were demolished! I’m convinced he was sneaking a few after I had gone to bed, and I’m sure he suspected I was eating more than I claimed. Maybe our cat, Phoebe, is to blame. Anyways…bottom line…the cookies disappeared and we were down to almost half our stash.
I panicked. Shortly after our realization that Thin Mint Season (a.k.a. end of February – beginning of March) was rapidly drawing to a close, I began my search for a quality substitute for our favorite cookies. Where does one go to find creative solutions to cookie-related desperation?
That’s right. Pinterest. Search: “thin mint cookies.”
I found a lot of awesome homemade versions that claim to be just like the real deal. I couldn’t believe it. I clicked on a dozen pins that lead to Mommy Blogs, Bakery Blogs, Chef-Wannabe Blogs, and Food Indulgence Blogs. It looks like people have been trying to decode this secret recipe for years and, fortunately for us, they have shared these recipes online so everyone may benefit! Yay! I was so excited and couldn’t wait to try one (or all) of these recipes!
But, wait. Not so fast. Just as I was about to close up shop, I discovered a pin for “Thin Mint Puppy Chow.” Now, that may seem gross at first, until you realize what “Puppy Chow” is.
Puppy Chow is a cute nickname given to a Chex-mix recipe originally called Muddy Buddies®. Yes, it is so popular that it is a registered-trademark of Chex®. The original recipe basically calls for a melted chocolate/peanut butter mixture to be poured over a bowl full of Chex® , mixed up, and then covered with powdered sugar. (Want the recipe? Click HERE.)
Thin Mint Puppy Chow is a slightly different variation. Basically, remove peanut butter and add peppermint. End result? You got it: Thin Mint Cookies (or a heavenly flavor that closely mocks the Girl Scout treat).
Here is the Pinterest Thin Mint Puppy Chow pin that I clicked on. [Note: I slightly changed up the recipe, because as you’ll notice, the chocolate on the mix wasn’t mint chocolate. I wanted the Chex-mix to taste like Thin Mints without having to sacrifice any more of my GS stash.]
THIN MINT MATH
So, what does this have to do with math? Well, I believe that any type of cooking in the kitchen involves math, and this mini project-based lesson is no exception. If you have kiddos around who (A) enjoy cooking, (B) like to get a little messy, and (C) love Thin Mints, then this cooking/math activity is for them!
Let’s start off with measurement. I made a sample batch for this recipe and used the following:
1 Cup Rice Chex
1/2 Cup Baker’s Chocolate (melted according to box directions)*
2 Tbsp Confectioner’s Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
1/4 Tsp Peppermint Extract
(* Use white chocolate with green food coloring if you want to add some color to your mix, like in the picture up above. Or, you can use semi-sweet chocolate sans food coloring. Or both!)
This recipe yields 1 cup of mix (like I said, just a sampling size). That was enough for my husband and I to split for dessert, but as you’ll notice in the original Muddy Buddies® recipe, it calls for 9 cups of Chex®. So, let’s move on to ratios and proportions. To convert my small batch size to a proportional, larger recipe, students will need to find proportional values of each ingredient. I suggest you start off by encouraging them to double all of the ingredients, or tripling them. Then start asking more complex questions: But what if I want to make a full, 9-cup batch? If each person eats 1/2 cup, and we have 20 guests, how much should I make? How much of each ingredient will I need?
After your young chefs decide on how much of each ingredient is needed, then you can begin baking! Following a recipe in steps is another lesson you can teach:
Step 1: Measure cereal into a large bowl and set aside.
Step 2: In a medium-size bowl, melt the chocolate (based on the directions on the box, approximately 1 minute) until smooth. Then, stir in peppermint extract and food coloring.
Step 3: Pour chocolate mixture over the cereal and gently stir, coating as much cereal as possible.
Step 4: Pour chocolate-covered cereal into a large zip-lock bag.
Step 5: Pour in powdered sugar. Close bag (tight!) and shake! (This is the fun part!) Shake until the powdered sugar has evenly covered the cereal. Pour mixture back into a bowl and Voila! Thin Mint Puppy Chow!
If you have some spare Thin Mints laying around and you want to chop them up and throw them in for good measure, I highly recommend it as it will only increase the deliciousness of this treat!
Other math lessons you can incorporate into Thin Mint Math:
Estimating costs: Go to the store and purchase the ingredients needed to make the dessert. Guess how much it will cost before you start shopping, and readjust your estimate as you wander the aisles picking up each ingredient. This is a great lesson in money, estimation, and economics!
Elapsed Time: Have a party starting soon? How much time will be needed to make the recipe before the guests arrive? (You can show them that the suggested time is 15 minutes. Since this is our first time making this recipe, should we allow for extra time? How long will it take us to clean up?)
Not to mention (but I will, anyway), this yummy lesson teaches math concepts like fractions, addition and multiplication.
Oh, and by the way, you can follow me on Pinterest and find more math fun at www.pinterest.com/thatmathlady