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X-Messing up the kitchen

December 25, 2009

I’m pretty sure there’s an evil spirit inhabiting my kitchen.  I used to be a pretty good, consistent baker.  Now I can’t decide if it’s just because I’m trying more technically difficult things, or I’m messing with ingredients and substitutions too much, or if I just suck, but lately only one in five projects comes out the way I intended.  Not that it puts me off trying, it’s just frustrating.

ANYWAY, a few days ago I spotted homemade peppermint patties on Serious Eats and knew, come hell or high water, I would make those little things.  I like candy just as much as the next person.  I can totally live without it (chocolate does not qualify as candy).  But somehow I still find chocolate and peppermint together in a commercially packaged sugary entity difficult to resist.  And hell, why not try something that has tons of potential to go wrong?

peppermint patty

I had to take this shot many times...I kept biting them wrong

Of course, as I was making them, I realized the fatal flaw with my plan: Right now, I’m home alone.  My roommate is back home, my brother is visiting his girlfriend, and my mom isn’t going to be visiting til tomorrow.  I can’t count on any of my friends to come over – it’s a freezing cold and icy transit for my Jewish friends, and it’s Christmas everywhere else.  If these actually work out, I am in extreme danger of devouring them all myself if I don’t find a distraction, quick.

Regardless, with Lady Gaga blasting along in the background, I determinedly set out to make my own peppermint patties, figuring I’ll deal with the consequences later.

standmixer

powdered sugar, Earth Balance, mint extract, vanilla extract

I remembered to use the flour guard thing for the stand mixer, but that didn’t keep me from making a powdery mess anyway.

my modus operandi

I followed the directions at the above link, replacing butter with Earth Balance.  I haven’t been using Earth Balance very long, so I’m wondering if it contributes to my baking issues.  I almost always used to use butter, even if I wouldn’t eat it myself.  That peppermint extract was part of a birthday gift of fine local extracts and flavorings from my stepfather.  I’ll try to find the information.

not sure it was supposed to look like this

In the recipe, it says that the “end result should be smooth and adhere very well, almost like a paste” and that it “shouldn’t be lumpy or powdery.”  Nope.  After I scraped down the sides, it looked something like this:

crumbly, kinda dry, not at all what the recipe calls for

Totally not what it’s supposed to look like.  I must have done something wrong, but when I tried to make rounds out of it, it still held shape, so I shaped it into little discs and set them on a plate covered with tin foil.

naked little peppermint patties

The recipe says it yields about 20 peppermint patties.  I guess that would be so, if you shaped them to be the same size as a commercial peppermint patty.  As you can see, that is NOT what I did.  I admit I have a tiny little problem.  Yes, tiny and little is my problem.  I almost always make everything teeny sized instead of full-sized.  It almost always takes so much more time, but what can I say?  I said it’s a little problem.  I shaped several dozen of these little peppermint rounds, most between the size of a nickel and a quarter.  I was worried about how they might come out after chilling because of the texture issues.  I tried not to make them too big or to thin, so they wouldn’t crumble when I dipped them in chocolate.

When I was done shaping them (it took, like, forever), I put them to chill in the fridge, then I set half a bag of chocolate chips and a few tablespoons of Earth Balance to melt on a double boiler.

chocolate chips and Earth Balance

Fine, makeshift double boiler.  I set about an inch of water to boil, then I placed a glass bowl with my chocolate and fat on top of the bowl, and let melt, turning the heat down a little.  The recipe suggests microwave melting, but I am dubious of microwaves and their melting abilities, and I am serious about my chocolate. Melting chocolate happens at least twice a month in my kitchen.  When it had melted down smooth, I took it off the heat and set aside to cool while my peppermint rounds finished chilling in the fridge.

Then it was time to DIP IN CHOCOLATE:

as you can see, chocolate got everywhere

set on a plate covered in tin foil

It got pretty messy.   Most of the peppermint rounds broke or crumbled as I put chocolate on them, so they sadly had to be devoured discarded.  This part didn’t take as long as the shaping part but took a lot of patience and concentration, nonetheless.  These are qualities which I do not possess.  Somehow, I persevered.  When they were done dipping, I put them in the fridge to set.  Here is what they looked like when they came out:

They taste great, just like peppermint patties are supposed to taste.  I guess, size wise, they’re somewhere between a Junior Mint and a York Pattie.  You can just pop these in your mouth… Delicious and dangerous!

peppermint patty

After they finished setting, I ate a whole bunch quality-tested the batch, then put them in a tupperware, separated with foil, to hang out in the fridge until I want to binge share them.

putting them away...

I guess we can call this half a success.  I have peppermint patties, no?

Now, I’m watching Elf and waiting for my nails to dry.  Mister Boy is being a Debbie Downer about going into the city tonight, so my bright lights and big city holiday adventure may have to be postponed.  I also have other recipes to share soon.  Stay tuned!

I hope everyone is having a great Christmas Eve Day!

Love, La

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