Homemade Peppermint Patties

Keeping with my annual tradition of finding a fun and easy recipe for Valentine’s Day, this week I decided to make one of my husband’s favorite treats – peppermint patties.  I must say, they were a BIG hit when customers sampled them yesterday and I gave out a record number of recipes! 

I found a great recipe on Taste of Home that only used five ingredients – sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, peppermint flavor, chocolate chips, and some shortening (all of which you can buy organic and trans-fat free at the Co-op).  This recipe is fun because you can shape the peppermint dough however you like, something I realized after I had made all my patties for my recipe demo – I’ll pat the dough flat and use a small cookie cutter to shape them as little hearts for the holiday!  It also comes together relatively quickly – it took me about 20 minutes to make the dough and shape the patties, plus chill time, and then it took me about 10-15 minutes to coat them with chocolate, plus chill time.

© Sassy Sampler 2013

© Sassy Sampler 2013

One thing I learned from this recipe is that I will always put a little oil in my chocolate from now on if I am using it to cover candies – I’ve always had difficulty with getting a nice even coating of chocolate when I make things like this, and the shortening added to the chocolate in this recipe really makes a difference.  If you are averse to vegetable shortening (we carry an organic 100% palm oil version), or just don’t have any on hand, I think that coconut oil would be an acceptable substitute.

If you are vegan and are craving some of these homemade candies, I suggest making this coconut version of sweetened condensed milk created by Sunny B on her gluten/dairy-free recipe blog – I think it would work great in this recipe.

…I’ll also mention that our Bakery has developed a vegan peppermint patty that will be available soon – I got to sample one and they are yummy!

Mmmmm...organic peppermint patties! © Sassy Sampler 2013

Mmmmm…organic peppermint patties! © Sassy Sampler 2013

Homemade Peppermint Patties

adapted from Taste of Home

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 c organic sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 t organic peppermint flavor (use less if you use real extract)
  • 3—4 c organic powdered sugar (up to 1#)
  • 3 c (18 oz) organic fair-trade dark chocolate chips
  • 2 t organic vegetable shortening (or organic coconut oil)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a bowl, combine milk and peppermint flavor.
  2. Stir in 3 c powdered sugar, to form a stiff dough. Once you have initially incorporated the sugar into the milk mixture, it is easiest to finish mixing with your hands.
  3. Knead enough remaining sugar to form a dough that is very stiff and no longer sticky.
  4. Working quickly, shape into 1” balls (really compact the dough) and place on a waxed paper or parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Flatten balls into 1 1/2” disks.Place cookie sheet in the freezer for half an hour, flipping them after 15 minutes (don’t freeze them for longer than that).
  6. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over about 1” of boiling water, stirring frequently. The chocolate is easiest to work with when it remains hot, so once the water is boiling and the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat but keep the bowl on the pot to keep the chocolate warm.
  7. Place a fork under a patty and dip in the chocolate mixture; tap fork against the side of the bowl gently and scrape excess chocolate off the bottom of the patty using the side of the bowl.
  8. Place patty on waxed or parchment paper to harden—you can either do that at room temperature or in the fridge.

These have a great shelf life—keep them in an airtight container (separate layers with parchment paper) in the fridge for up to a month.

Chocolate Peppermint PattiesPDF

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Flourless Chocolate Cookies, and a Bellingham Gluten-free Restaurant Guide

Chantel holding a plate of yummy chocolate cookies made with Dagoba organic and fairly traded cocoa powder.

Chantel holding a plate of yummy chocolate cookies made with Dagoba organic and fairly traded cocoa powder.

We’ve been busy over the last year redesigning our website, and one of the new things we are doing is picking a staff favorite item to feature on the site as well as in our print ads – for December, long-time staff member Chantel was selected (who is our Membership Coordinator and also works on the Front End at our Downtown store).  She loves to cook and bake, and one of her favorite recipes features her staff pick of the month – Dagoba Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Powder.  We thought it would be fun to tie that into the Sassy Sampler blog this month, so the recipe was an easy pick since Chantel had already chosen it!

These flourless chocolate cookies are scrumptious – they come together very quickly and contain no added fats (although plenty of sugar, so don’t get too excited about the basically fat-free status!).  They taste like a meringue brownie – they are a delicate cookie that is packed with chocolate flavor and only contain a few ingredients.  They are similar to the Triple Chocolate Cookies that I have blogged about before, but these are much easier to make and don’t contain any flour at all.  Customers loved their flavor, and also loved their simplicity…and the fact that while they contain egg whites, you don’t have to whip them for this recipe!

One other new addition (to my blog) is that I have created a list of restaurants in town that offer gluten-free selections/substitutions.  I urge anyone to comment on them and to offer suggestions to add to the list – you can either email me (address is located on the bottom of the About page) or use the form – most of the restaurants listed are ones that myself or my coworkers have personally eaten at so it is by no means a comprehensive list.  You can find the PDF document (and places to comment) here.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies © Sassy Sampler 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cookies © Sassy Sampler 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

adapted from www.kumquatblog.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 c organic powdered sugar
  • 2/3 c organic cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 4 large organic egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 t organic vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4—1 1/2  c organic semi-sweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper (and sprayed lightly with oil) or Silpat mats.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and sea salt.
  4. Stir in the egg whites and vanilla until the batter is well combined (if the batter seems too thin you can add more powdered sugar until it reaches school glue consistency).
  5. Spoon thick fudgy batter onto cookie sheets in 12 small, evenly spaced mounds (about 1 T).  Chill for 5 minutes or so to keep them from spreading when they bake.  Refrigerate remaining batter.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked.
  7. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before removing from the sheet.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 with remaining batter.

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to three days and taste just like brownies!

There are many variations of this recipe on the web—you can use anywhere from 2-4 eggs (depending on how thick you want the batter—I definitely think the thicker the better) and some recipes use as much as 2 cups of chocolate chips.  Nuts can be added to these cookies as well—hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans would be a great choice.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies PDF

1/3/13 – Since posting this recipe I’ve made a batch using Dutch processed cocoa powder.  They turn out much darker (in color) and have a slightly richer chocolate flavor – give it a try if that is your preference!

I just have to mention that when I made the cookies, three of my four eggs had double yolks!!!  Just thought that was weird...

I just have to mention that when I made the cookies, three of my four eggs had double yolks!!! Just thought that was weird…

Buttercream “Eggs” with Royal Icing Flowers – Part 2

Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

Buttercream eggs, also known as fondant eggs (although they really are neither) are very easy to make.  Just four ingredients (plus nuts if you add them) and chocolate chips for coating them, and you are on your way to sugar heaven!

As I stated in my last post, my mom used to make these when I was a kid, and this must have been a well-used recipe in the 70’s and 80’s as I had many customers exclaim that their mother or grandmother used to make these for them every Easter.  I don’t know where my mom got the recipe, but it’s one that will always be in my arsenal.

The recipe I have doesn’t have many instructions, so it is good they are so easy to make!  I started by melting a stick of butter and then I let it cool completely.  You put two pounds (yes, I said pounds) of powdered sugar in that largest bowl you have, and then drizzle the melted butter, sweetened condensed milk (we have Santini Organic at the Co-op) and a tablespoon of vanilla and then mix it all together – I tend to start with a wooden spoon and then use my hands once the bulk of the powdered sugar is mixed in.  If you are adding nuts (I used organic roasted almonds) you mix those in and voilà – you are almost done.

Form the dough into egg shapes using your hands – the dough is very pliable and should do this easily.  I like to let them harden in the fridge for at least a couple of hours (or overnight) so the melted chocolate doesn’t make them too smooshy.  I melted two bags of Tropical Source semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy and gluten-free) in a large bowl over a barely simmering pot of water, and then removed it from the heat.  The dipping method that worked best for me was to place the egg on a fork and then lowering the fork into the bowl so the egg was resting on the chocolate.  Then I spooned chocolate over the egg and smoothed it out.  I lifted the fork out and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and carefully transferred the egg to a parchment lined baking sheet.  If you made Royal Icing flowers, this is the point you need to place them on the egg, otherwise the chocolate will harden and they won’t stick.

Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

That’s it – aside from letting the chocolate harden, which you can do on the counter or in the fridge.  Once they are made, they should be good for about a week or so (kept in the fridge and wrapped up tight – especially if you have cut into it, although I think they are best at room temperature so I leave them out for a little while before I eat them), if you can keep them around for that long!

Buttercream “Eggs” Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

Buttercream “Eggs”

(recipe for Royal Icing drop flowers can be found here or in the PDF at the end of the post)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 stick melted and cooled salted butter or margarine (8T)
  • 1T vanilla
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2c chopped nuts (optional)
  • 12-18 oz chocolate chips for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Form about 10 eggs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (or covered, overnight) for best results.
  4. Take eggs out and melt chocolate in a double boiler.
  5. Either dip the eggs in the chocolate (using either turkey nails or a wide-tined fork in the bottom to hold the egg) and place them on the baking sheet (be sure to let the excess chocolate drip off) or place a spoonful of chocolate on the baking sheet and place egg on top—then spoon another couple spoonfuls of chocolate over it and spread until even.
  6. Place your icing flowers on the eggs while the chocolate is still soft.
  7. Let eggs sit until chocolate hardens (you can refrigerate them).
  8. Use leftover Royal Icing to write the name of the recipient on the eggs before serving.

(I also used the leftover chocolate – I put little blobs on some parchment paper and put a Royal Icing flower in the middle for tasty little candies.)

Buttercream Eggs with Royal Icing Flowers PDF


Buttercream Eggs with Royal Icing Flowers – Part 1

When I was young and living overseas, every year my mother and a bunch of other women would all make buttercream eggs to sell at the commissary.  A couple of weeks before Easter, our kitchen would start to fill up with hundreds of Royal Icing flowers to decorate them.  The bags of these candy flowers were so enticing while we waited for the main event and (sorry Mom) I know I stole my fair share of them in the weeks in between!  They were so sweet and cute that I couldn’t resist.

It’s been almost 30 years since my mom made her last buttercream egg, and I ran across the recipe a couple of years ago and decided it would be fun (and nostalgic) to try making them myself.  They were just as good as I remembered them, although it took a little tinkering to get my “drop” flowers to come out right.  I have no idea where the recipe I have came from, and it was missing a chunk of instructions so I ended up having to re-vamp it anyway.

I thought it would be fun to share the recipe even though it takes a little determination to get the flower technique down (the eggs are super easy) – I figure if I can do it than anyone with a little patience can as well (I have very little experience with using pastry bags successfully, and maybe it’s the Boucheés Parmentiers au Fromage that gave me the courage to try these!).

Part 1 – Royal Icing flowers

You need to make these in advance, as they take at least 24 hours to dry.  I will caution that Royal Icing has raw egg whites, unless you use meringue powder.  I’m not scared of a little raw egg because I use only fresh, local, organic eggs – and because I’ve eaten so much raw cookie dough, cake dough, and yes, hundreds (thousands?) of these little flowers in my lifetime that it never even crosses my mind.  If you prefer to avoid them for health reasons, you can buy meringue powder at many grocery stores (except not at the Co-op) – it is made out of powdered egg whites and many cooks feel it is a safer option.  You can find an alternate recipe for the Royal Icing using meringue powder here.

I live on the wild side, so into the bowl my two egg whites went.  You want to beat them until pretty stiff peaks form, and then you slowly add (3 cups!) sifted powdered sugar and a little lemon juice.  The first few times I made the icing, it was way too runny, and you need it to be pretty dense to form the flowers using a pastry tip.  I divided the icing into two different bowls and added  India Tree food coloring that we now carry at the Co-op, made from red cabbage (blue), beet juice (red) and curcumin (yellow).  I went for pink and purple for my icing colors.  I realized that the consistency of the icing still wasn’t right, so I kept mixing in more powdered sugar until my spoon stood up straight on its own.  I loaded the icing into my pastry bags (one with a #96 or #129 tip for the flowers and one with a #2 tip for the center of the flowers) and got to piping!  If you don’t have a pastry bag set, we carry them at the Downtown Co-op in a cute little cake decorating set (I hear that we are out of stock but will have more soon).

Me making Drop Flowers (and a big mess!)

The key is to exert slight pressure and keep a steady hand.  Very lightly press the tip of the pastry bag (with the #96 tip, the #129 is better, but I don’t have one of those) to the surface of your baking sheet and lightly squeeze while turning it about a 1/4 turn while simultaneously lifting the bag straight up (sounds complicated but it really isn’t once you get the hang of it).  It will take a few tries to get it right, but that’s ok because you have plenty of icing to work with!   Once you have a row completed, use the alternate color with the #2 tip to pipe a small dot of icing in the center of your “flower”.  Continue making flowers until you have about half of your icing left, then switch your tips and make flowers in the alternate color (rinse out the tips well before switching).  I meant to take photos of the process (my mom stopped by the Co-op and took the one above), but here’s a short video I found demonstrating the technique (and what they really should look like if you know what you are doing!).

Once you’ve made all the flowers you want to, let them air dry until they are hard.  Rumor is they last forever once they harden, but I’ve never put that to the test!  Keep them in an air-tight container until you need to use them.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the recipe (and a PDF file of the whole thing) for the eggs and show photos of the final product!

Royal Icing Drop Flowers

prepare at least one day and up to one month in advance

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2t lemon juice
  • 3c sifted powdered sugar (plus up to an additional cup)
  • Food coloring
  • Two pastry bags and tips (#2 and a flower tip like #96 or #129)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  2. Gradually add 3c powdered sugar and the lemon juice until smooth.  Add more powdered sugar until icing is very stiff (you should be able to stand your spoon up straight on its own).
  3. Keep covered until used.
  4. Divide icing into two bowls—using a small amount of food coloring, dye each batch the color of your choice.
  5. Fill a piping bag with each color of icing (remember to cover any excess icing) and fit one with a size 96 or 129 tip and the other with a size 2 tip.
  6. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Begin by using the larger number tipped bag—gently press on the top of the bag with the tip just touching the surface of the parchment paper.  As you gently press out the icing,  give it a slight turn and stop pushing out the icing.  It will take a few tries before you get the correct pressure, but never fear, you’ll get it!  Make sure you lift the tip straight up.
  8. Using the bag with the #2 tip, pip a small dot in the center of the flower.  Repeat until half of your flower tipped bag is gone, then remove tips, rinse out, and switch tips so you can make flowers in the color you were using for the center of the flower.
  9. Let air dry until very hard.  Store in airtight container until used.