We wanted to try a new type of candy this year and had just read a recipe for peppermint patties, or, as we’ll refer to this version, pepperminties. We found this in Prune, by Gabrielle Hamilton, which we really enjoyed. It’s printed to look like the notebook that the staff uses in the restaurant (maybe it’s basically a copy; we don’t know), including handwritten notes about handling and plating the food. If you want to have some feel for what goes on in a high-pressure restaurant kitchen, check out this book. But, for now, let’s check out how to make pepperminties.
We have to admit that we did change the recipe just slightly, to accommodate what we had in the house, but we’ll post the recipe as originally written. We will tell you what we did, though, and you can make the call as to whether it was the right call in our scratchin’ adventure.
No peppermint oil in this house, primarily because it’s more difficult to find than extract. Yes, we know that peppermint oil is about 10 times as strong as extract, and we would have used it if we’d had it available. The second change we made was to use half-and-half instead of evaporated milk. It just didn’t make any sense to open a can of evaporated milk when we had a carton of half-and-half available. Finally, we don’t have solid coconut oil; maybe you do, but not us. Looking around the Internet a bit, we finally settled on omitting this from one batch, and using vegetable shortening in the next. It made no discernible difference. Finally, we practiced using tempered chocolate (70% cacao dark chocolate, of course), and, as you might notice, we still need a bit of practice.
Procedure in detail:
Cream. Place the powdered sugar, butter, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start on low and work your way up to medium speed. Mix for about a minute or so. The recipe says to cream these ingredients, but they never really creamed together, although the butter and cream cheese did get mixed into the powdered sugar.
Add liquids. Turn off the mixer and add peppermint oil (or, if you’re making these the way we did, peppermint extract), heavy cream, and evaporated milk.
Whip. Start the mixer on low so powdered sugar doesn’t fly everywhere and work your way up to high. Let the mixer whip the ingredients for about 2 minutes, or until light, fluffy, and smooth. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, remembering to scrape up any powdered sugar from the bottom, and whip for another 30 seconds or so.
Chill. Scrape the filling out onto a piece of parchment, fold to cover the filling, and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to an hour to allow the filling to become more paste-like.
Shape. Pull off small pieces of the filling, and, as best you can, shape into small balls. We didn’t go with the 1/2 ounce suggested; instead, we went with 1/2-inch balls. Place these balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone baking mats. Once you’ve shaped all the filling into balls, use the side of your hand to form them into disks. Yes, we know, we know, this filling is sticky and gets everywhere. Do the best you can.
Freeze. Place the disks in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
Temper chocolate. Meanwhile, you have a choice: temper or not. We went with tempering, for the practice, but you can always just melt the chocolate and keep your pepperminties refrigerated or frozen until you eat them. (The advantage of tempering is the chocolate will be shiny and have a nice “snap” at room temperature). For tempering: melt 3/4 of the chocolate (and oil, if using) in a double boiler over simmering water, but don’t let the temperature go above 115°F. Once melted and at 115°F, remove the chocolate from over the simmering water, and add the remaining 1/4 of chocolate and stir until the temperature drops to 81°F. Place back over simmering water and bring back to 89-91°F. Your chocolate is tempered.
Dip. Drop a filling disk into the chocolate and flip to coat. Remove from the chocolate and place on the parchment to cool.
These are troublesome to make. The patty part is sticky and hard to deal with. We tried oiling our hands, or using plastic gloves, but it made a mess. Dipping them was also troublesome. Being frozen, they seemed to chill the chocolate rapidly, meaning we had to move the chocolate back and forth from the counter to the double boiler to keep it dip-able. Plus, being cold, the chocolate seemed to solidify around the patties in excessive amounts, which caused us to us have funny-looking patties and use more chocolate than we expected. On the upside, they tasted great, but, with all the difficulty, we’ll be looking for another version if we make pepperminties again. Three stars.