'Scuse the overexposed Instagram, please. Consider it proof that everything looks particularly hideous under the glare of under-cabinet lights. Unless you're super organized, Christmas treat-making is just not conducive to pretty pictures for blogging. Butter and sugar is flying at all hours of the day in this here candy factory, with many finished projects emerging long after the sun has set.
Peppermint patties have been on my list of confections to try for ages. I've long been a fan of the Cadbury Pep and, to a lesser extent, Junior Mints, so a homemade version was a no-brainer. What stopped me all of these years was the chocolate dipping. Everything I've ever dipped in chocolate has been a hideous disaster. These were a half exception. Thanks to a dying candy thermometer battery, my attempt at tempering the chocolate failed miserably. So, the smooth, glossy stars you see above morphed into a dull, speckled grey overnight. Taste-wise, however, these peppermint patties were spot on.
Members of my family will be finding short stacks of peppermint stars in their stockings this year, along with variations on:
Chocolate Fudge (Fine Cooking)
Coffee Toffee (Smitten Kitchen)
Pretzel & Nut Mix (David Lebovitz.com)
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
pinch of salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or coating chocolate), coarsely chopped
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
In a small bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups of icing sugar with the corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening and a pinch of salt. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed just until combined.
Dust your counter with the remaining 1/4 cup of icing sugar. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead until smooth.
Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper into a 7- or 8-inch round (less than 1/4-inch thick). Freeze until firm (about 20 minutes).
Remove the top sheet of paper and sprinkle the round with icing sugar. Replace the top sheet, flip the round over and repeat the process on the other side.
Use a small cookie cutter (roughly 1-inch in diameter) to cut as many shapes as possible, transferring the cutouts to the prepared cookie sheet. Freeze the shapes until firm (about 15 minutes). Meanwhile, gather the scraps, re-roll and freeze the dough, and then cut out more shapes to chill.
While the shapes are hanging out in the freezer, temper the 10 ounces of chocolate by following the instructions at the Epicurious.com link below or by using another approach that has worked well for you in the past. Or, if you're scared and/or willing to sacrifice a little on taste, avoid the tempering process and use coating chocolate instead.
Balance a frozen peppermint cutout on a fork and completely submerge it in the melted chocolate. Lift it up and let the excess chocolate drip off, scraping the back of the fork against the rim of the bowl if necessary. Return the coated cutout to the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat. Let the coated cutouts stand until the chocolate has set.
Store chilled, layered between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container, for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Source: Epicurious.com, originally published in Gourmet in December 2007.
Notes: I doubled the quantity of peppermint extract, from 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon, and made stars instead of rounds.