My whole life, I thought I hated chocolate and mint. I didn’t like Thin Mints, I hated Andes mints, I REALLY hated those stupid chocolate-mint fake M&Ms they give you sometimes in Italian restaurants. I don’t remember why I thought I hated chocolate and mint, and I only remember eating a York Peppermint Patty a couple years ago and having an epiphanic moment similar to the one I had recently regarding oven temperature. It was glorious, a whole new world of minty, melty goodness.
I do still hate Andes mints, because they dye the mint part green. Pretending that there’s anything close to naturally minty in Andes mints is like calling green Kool-Aid “lime”. It’s not lime, it’s green. No lime has ever been within spitting distance of a packet of green Kool-Aid, and the same applies to Andes mints.
Food (or in this case food-like substance): be what you are.
Also, food manufacturers everywhere: we are not idiots. Stop trying to fool us. We will very likely still eat your fake, over-dyed crap, at least on occasion.
So, to Peppermint Patties. I love the way they’re not pretending to be natural by being green, the inside is white and pillowy and melty and wonderful. I like the way they don’t cave to the overwhelming milk chocolate-loving-majority and keep using dark chocolate. I just like them. I made these a few days before I had a wonderful food shoot with my buddy Kelly Goode of Capture Photography. I did a few pictures of the process myself, but the gorgeous, creative amazing ones are Kelly’s, obviously.
About this recipe – it’s easy, except for the dipping in chocolate part, which is difficult for 2 reasons.
1. I broke the chocolate twice before I Googled it and realized you can’t just throw some water into chocolate while you are trying to temper it. If you do break the chocolate, (and by “break”, I mean put water in it so it get’s all stiff and seizes up and becomes impossible to work with and there’s no pretending you haven’t done something seriously wrong) you can mix some vegetable oil in slowly as you re-heat the chocolate and it will, albeit slowly and reluctantly, come back to normal.
2. Dipping the peppermint rounds into the chocolate is messy and difficult. All the recipes I read said to balance the peppermint rounds on a fork and submerge it in the chocolate, which didn’t work for me at all, because the chocolate was too thick. In the end, I used my fingers and ended up with Scary And Also Delicious Chocolate Glove Hand as a result. My method was to pick up the round, dip the sides in the chocolate, kind of rolling the ends in it, then use a knife to smear the top and bottom with more chocolate. This was, as I said, extremely messy, but it did help make them more attractive, because at first they looked like my dad might have made them, and he has a pretty violent benign tremor in one hand that prevents him from drinking full cups of coffee.
Peppermint Patties, from Sweet Cheeks in the Kitchen – I doubled this recipe and ended up with something like 2 dozen patties
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 1/4 cups for the patties, 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 1/2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp pure peppermint extract (peppermint flavoring, that is fake, get natural extract)
1 tbsp shortening
10 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chip form (the higher quality chocolate you use, the better, I used Ghirardelli)
For the filling: Beat together the 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, corn syrup, water, shortening, extract and a pinch of salt, either with a handheld electric mixer or in a standing mixer, until combined. It doesn’t take very long, maybe 2-3 minutes, until all the sugar is absorbed and you have a nice, doughy substance in the bowl, that looks like peppermint patty filling.
On a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with a little powdered sugar, and with another piece of parchment on top of it, roll out the filling to about 1/4 inch thickness. Freeze it for 10-15 minutes. After 15 minutes, bring it back out, get a shot glass (or something else that will make about 1 inch rounds) and cut as many rounds out of the circle as you can. Transfer the rounds to a parchment lined baking sheet and put in the freezer. Re-roll the scraps and freeze, then cut out additional rounds as many times as you care to.
For the chocolate: Tempering chocolate is heating up chocolate slowly, then cooling it back down slowly, it helps the texture get that nice snap you find in candy, as well as get nice and shiny. You can do this with a thermometer, a double boiler and an ice bath, or you can do it the easier way, with seeding. Seeding is heating up 3/4 of the chocolate you’re using, then mixing in the remaining 1/4 to bring the temperature back down. Much easier. Sue is who taught me about seeding. She’s smart. Melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove the bowl, mix in the remaining 1/4 of chocolate until the chocolate is smooth. Dip each peppermint round into the melted chocolate (you can try the fork method, or you can use your hands and a butter knife to spread it, like I did) and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Let them firm up at room temperature for a couple hours.