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There are actually two separate entities commonly referred to as Thin Mints. One is a soft mint-flavored candy disk enrobed in chocolate, and the other is a hard chocolate-coated cookie flavored with mint oil and dark cocoa. The candy called Thin Mints is primarily produced by Haviland, a division of the Necco candy company. The dark chocolate cookie Thin Mints, however, are produced by various bakeries authorized by the Girl Scouts of the USA, Inc.
Many Americans are familiar with the Girls Scouts of America's annual fundraising sale of Girl Scout cookies. These boxes of cookies have become nearly iconic, from the peanut buttery Tagalongs to the coconut-and-caramel flavored Samoas. Although not officially introduced as a Girl Scout cookie until 1951, the Thin Mints brand alone now accounts for over 25% of total sales.
Thin Mints begin as a thin, round cookie wafer made with a dark cocoa blend and pure peppermint oil. The cookies are baked in industrial ovens and then allowed to cool before being enrobed in a thin layer of dark chocolate. The finished Thin Mints are packaged in distinctive boxes which reflect many aspects of the Girl Scouts organization. Each box generally contains two sleeves of cookies, although the actual cookie count can vary from year to year according to economic conditions.
The popularity of Thin Mints may be partly due to their versatility as both snack cookies and baking ingredients. Crumbled Thin Mints are popular toppings for ice cream sundaes and other desserts, while whole Thin Mints are especially popular when accompanied by a glass of cold milk or hot tea. For many consumers, Thin Mints are the quintessential Girl Scout cookie, largely unchanged since 1951. It is not unusual for Girl Scout cookie customers to order a box of Thin Mints first, then decide among the remaining varieties.
There are several recipes available for homemade versions of Thin Mints, although the original formula has proven notoriously difficult to duplicate. Some recipes even suggest using paraffin wax or other unusual additives in order to achieve the wax-like consistency of the outer chocolate layer. It can also be challenging for home bakers to duplicate the crispness and rich chocolate flavor of the inner wafer. Commercial bakeries such as Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers are under license to produce official Girl Scout cookies, and must agree to produce a sufficient number of Thin Mints to meet the demand.
The Thin Mint candies are great for cooking. I have a brownie recipe that calls for layering two-thirds of the batter in a pan, putting Thin Mints on top and covering the candy with the remaining batter and then baking. So good! And so rich. You have to prepare yourself for the richness. The candies are pretty rich in their own right, and add them to a brownie mix, and you really should stop at one before you make yourself sick.
I've always loved the chocolate and mint combination, anyway, even when I was a little kid. I always got a box of Junior Mints at the movies. They're really just miniature Thin Mints.
I have friends with daughters who are in Girl Scouts and they tell me that they routinely sell more Thin Mints than nearly any other flavor. Tagalongs are a close second (shortbread cookie with peanut butter and covered in chocolate).
We always like Thin Mints and if my dad bought a box from a friend at work, that was usually what he got, along with a box of Tagalongs, since he loved peanut butter.
I like most of the Girl Scout cookie flavors. I will say the Trefoils (plain shortbread) do work best with dunked in milk. But they're all good. I've even seen knock-off versions in store brands.
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