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

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


Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Every week when it is time to sample a recipe, the Produce staff are always excited to find out what I will be sampling (my demo table is between the Bulk and Produce departments). Last week as I was setting up my hummus demo, they asked what was on the menu for the day, and I hear the Produce manager holler from the prep area “candy bars?!?” Hummus is in no way a candy bar (I think somebody was craving a sugary treat that day!), but based on her enthusiastic “suggestion” that was what I had planned on preparing and sampling this week.

Thursday came around, and I went to check the shelf stock on the ingredients I would need, and guess what? One of the main ingredients was out of stock! All of a sudden, I had no demo for the next day and I had to think fast. Thank goodness I had done a little recipe recon earlier in the week, and I ran across a gluten-free blogger that I hadn’t checked out before. It was the name of the blog that got me “Hey, that tastes good! or how I learned that gluten-free doesn’t mean taste-free“. Connecticut blogger Jill has some fantastic recipes, and it is on her blog that I found what would prove to be a delicious substitute for the candy bars I had planned to make (don’t worry, I’ll still make them around Valentine’s day) – Chocolate Tres Leches cake.

For those of you that haven’t had Tres Leches cake, it is a sponge or butter cake that is soaked in three kinds of milk – cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk – that originates from Latin America and is best served chilled. It is a delicious cake that isn’t soggy like you would think, and I was even more excited to find a chocolate version on Jill’s blog. Customers absolutely loved the cake – it is a great one to serve if you have a gluten and/or egg intolerance, because no one will know that it isn’t a “regular” cake!

I used the Swan Bakery’s GF Vegan Chocolate Cake mix in the recipe, because I had experience soaking it with berry sauce when I made the vegan Fluffy Berry Cake last year. You can use just about any chocolate cake recipe (GF or wheat) in this recipe, just be sure that it isn’t a dense cake or it won’t soak up enough of the milk mixture and will become soggy. I used the fairly traded organic chocolate chips and cocoa that we have in the bulk department, and the cake turned out fantastic. In the original recipe, Jill uses regular sugar in her whipping cream, but I usually use powdered sugar; you are welcome to use whatever is your favorite method for making whipping cream. Be sure to use at least a little sugar though – you will be adding cocoa powder to the cream and if you don’t add any sugar at all it could come out a little bitter and/or blander tasting overall.

As I mentioned before, Tres Leches cake is best when allowed to soak up the milk overnight, so this is a great cake to make when you know you have guests coming over the next day. If you use a cake mix, there is really very little hands-on time that you spend in the kitchen making this cake, and it tastes like you slaved for hours!

Enjoy!

photo chocolate tres leches cake

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake © 2011 Sassy Sampler

CHOCOLATE TRES LECHES CAKE (GLUTEN-FREE OPTION)

adapted from Hey, That Tastes Good

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package Swan Bakery Chocolate Cake mix (GF or wheat variety, or any airy chocolate cake recipe), plus related ingredients

For the Swan Bakery GF cake mix (you may need to adapt this depending on what chocolate cake mix you use):

  • 2 c water or soy milk
  • 1 c grape seed/canola oil
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar

Tres Leches Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 oz chocolate chips (about 1/3 c)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T powdered sugar
  • 2 T cocoa powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare cake according to the instructions. Once it’s cooled, poke holes all over the top with a fork. Don’t worry if it is messy, the top of the cake is going to be covered with whipped cream anyway!
  2. Combine the condensed milk and the chocolate chips in a small saucepan and heat on the stove just long enough to melt the chocolate chips. Don’t boil or simmer the milk. You can also place them in a microwave safe bowl and heat them for a minute or two to melt the chocolate.
  3. Pour the chocolaty milk into a bowl and add the evaporated milk and 1/4 c of the heavy cream.
  4. Slowly pour about 1 1/2—2 cups of the mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (overnight in the fridge is best for flavor).
  5. You will have some chocolate milk mixture left over. I recommend making a mocha with it…I did—it tasted like a liquid truffle.
  6. To make the whipped cream, combine the rest of the cream with the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and whip until it is thick.Spread over the top of the cake and refrigerate again until ready to serve.
  7. Store cake in the fridge.  Best when consumed within a couple of days.

Gluten-free Chocolate Tres Leches Cake PDF