Saturday, February 22, 2014

Peppermint Patties

I love Peppermint Patties. So creamy, cool and snappy. They're a nice finish when you're looking for a little something sweet after dinner but not wanting to go for a big dessert. I usually have some around, hidden in the pantry or out in a candy dish, depends on my mood. When I saw some recipes on the old interweb for a home made version, my mind was swimming with possibilities. I usually don't go in for "copycat" candy recipes because, seriously, they are a lot of work and have a lot of components. I can spend all day in the kitchen or just run down to 7-11 a grab a Snicker's. A lot of work for not much payoff, no thanks. On the other hand, the peppermint patty recipes looked pretty simple and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. I decided I'd give 'em a try.

Start with powdered sugar, light corn syrup, peppermint extract, and shortening.
You'll also need some semi sweet chocolate or chocolate coating, if you don't feel like doing the whole tempering thing.

In a mixer (a hand held mixer will also work), beat together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, peppermint extract and some water. Use the paddle attachment on the mixer and go until you have a nice smooth paste.

NOTE: The recipe calls for 1-1/2 tablespoons of corn syrup and 1-1/2 tablespoons of water. I don't know about you but I don't have a 1/2 tablespoon measure. 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon so 1-1/2 tablespoons is 4-1/2 teaspoons. To make it easier you need 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon of both water and corn syrup.

Turn the mixture out onto a cutting board heavily dusted with more powdered sugar (a whole cup) and knead until all the powdered sugar is worked in and you have a smooth dough like texture. If it's still too sticky, add up to an additional 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.

The finished result should be soft and pliable but hold it's shape pretty well.

Roll it out to a 1/4 inch thickness between two sheets of parchment paper. You could use wax paper here but you'll have to dust it with powdered sugar or it will stick. I recommend the parchment paper. Park this in the freezer until it gets nice and hard, a couple of hours or so. You want it to get very very firm or it will be hard to deal with later.

When the dough is very chilled and very firm, cut out into approximately 1-2 inch shapes with a cookie cutter. Rounded shapes (hearts, circles, ovals, etc) work best. I went with hearts for Valentine's Day and also did a few circles. 

Put the shapes on a parchment lined cookie sheet and back into the freezer. This mixture thaws very quickly so work fast as it gets more difficult to work with as it gets soft. The scraps can be kneaded together, rolled out, chilled and more shapes can be cut. You can do this any number of times without compromising the quality.

I usually go with the "Chocolate Coating" as I don't much care for the whole tempering process but this time around I used real semi-sweet chocolate. The coating tends to be a bit thick and I was hoping for a thiner dark chocolate flavor like a York Peppermint Patty. For directions on how to temper real chocolate try this link

Once the chocolate is tempered and ready for dipping (or your candy coating is melted) start dipping the frozen candy shapes. Again, this mixture thaws pretty fast so work very quickly or you'll have a big mess. I took about 5 patties out of the freezer at a time, quickly dipped them and then got 5 more. A lot of back and forth but it's really hard to dip the shapes once they start to get soft.

And there you have it, home made peppermint patties. I got a bit impatient with tempering my chocolate so it didn't set up super hard and snappy and the "sheen" on the chocolate was kind of uneven. Seriously, who cares. These tasted pretty good. If you're a fan of York Peppermint Patties or Junior Mints, you'll really like these. I didn't do a side by side taste test but if memory serves, these are probably a bit better than store bought. On the down side, they are a lot of work. Although these turned out really well, next time I'm in the mood for a peppermint patty I'll probably just grab some at the store.

Peppermint Patties
Makes approx. 2 dozen 1-2 inch candies
 3-1/2 C. powdered sugar, divided
1-1/2 T. light corn syrup
1-1/2 T. water
1/2 t. peppermint extract
1 T. shortening (at room temperature)
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand held mixer) beat together 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar, corn syrup, water, peppermint extract and shortening. Continue beating until you have a smooth paste. Turn mixture out onto a smooth surface dusted with another 1 cup of powdered sugar. Knead until smooth and all the additional sugar has been incorporated. If mixture is still sticky, knead in up to another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. When mixture is smooth, roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness between two sheets of parchment and freeze until firm. When dough is firm, use a 1-2 inch cookie cutter to cut desired shape, then return shapes to freezer and chill until firm.

Temper chocolate using your preferred method. Remove candy shapes from freezer a few at a time and quickly dip into tempered chocolate. Shake/scrape off excess chocolate and lay out on a lined cookie sheet to firm up. 

Candies can be stored up to one month in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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