I always liked Peppermint Patty, maybe because she was a tomboy and I was a tomboy. However, I never liked peppermint patties, because they were made of mint and I did not like the “curiously strong” flavor of mint. This would later be amended to allow for the presence of mint in mojitos which is, I declare, the greatest of all mixed drinks.
I think some affinities–and aversions– for certain foods is genetic. Like cilantro. Some people love cilantro. Some people may have a gene that makes them think that cilantro tastes like soap. Apparently mint is not one of those foods, though. My parents love chocolate mints. I do not. When I was a kid, we used to go to the dime store (it had a real name, but damned if I remember what it was. I’m not sure I ever knew—we always just called it the “dime store”) or Krogers and my mom used to buy herself an occasional treat at the checkout counter and it was usually a York peppermint patty. My dad did it, too. They always offered me a bite and I always turned it down. I don’t believe that mint should go into chocolate. Mint should go into Cuban alcoholic beverages. Or toothpaste. Or you can chew fresh mint leaves like my grandmother does for a quick fresher-upper after dinner. But not into chocolate. You know what should go into chocolate? Nothing. It’s already perfect. That was a trick question.
If you have to add something, it should be caramel and/or nuts, like chocolate turtles, or Snickers or you should melt down the chocolate into a delectable winter drink and top it with whipped cream. But not mint.
Or so I thought.
I’m not saying I’ve completely changed my mind. I’m just saying that maybe there’s a possibility that sometimes there can be acceptable substitutions for chocolate fillings that might occasionally, conceivably include mint. But I’d have to sample a few more…just to be sure. It’s for the sake of research. You understand.
Anyway, because Josh likes them, back in December of 2008 I had stored away a recipe for homemade peppermint patties and then promptly forgot about it because of all that I described above (you were paying attention, weren’t you? No? I understand. I don’t listen to myself half the time either. What? Nothing). But after initiating my self-challenge for the Great Recipe Experiment and one of my brave volunteers selected the recipe, I had to confront the peppermint patty head-on.
So the first challenge was finding peppermint oil (not extract), which I eventually did, at the Ann Arbor People’s Food Co-op. The second challenge was not kicking myself too hard after I then found the oil cheaper at By the Pound…after already having bought it from PFC. Eh well. The third challenge was not making a giant mess of myself and my kitchen by spilling powdered sugar everywhere. The fourth challenge was estimating a fourth of a teaspoon of peppermint oil without my measuring spoons, which I seem to have lost. And the fifth challenge was reconciling the recipe, which referred to the minty confection as a “batter” when what I had really resembled more of a “dough.” That’s one, two, three, four, five. Five challenges. Ah ah ah.
But once I got past my nervousness of “will this work?” I realized that yes, yes it actually did work out. Josh loved them. And I was pretty proud of myself. Also, the recipe says it makes 25-30 patties, but I got about 21 so…that may have just been me. One great thing about this experiment was that since I was too lazy to find/buy evaporated milk, I learned online how to make my own! The recipes for that and the peppermint patties are both below.
from Joy of Baking
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil (do not use peppermint extract)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
9 ounces semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used a mix of dark and semisweet chocolate chips)
1 tablespoon shortening
Peppermint Patties: Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, smoothing out any wrinkles. Lightly dust the foil with confectioners sugar (powdered or icing).
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat (on low speed) the sugar, butter, peppermint oil, vanilla extract, and evaporated milk until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until very creamy (about 2-3 minutes). Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill until firm enough to roll into balls (about 30 – 60 minutes).
Roll the batter into 1 inch (2.54 cm) balls and place on the prepared pan. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand until the patties are about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter and 1/3 inch (1 cm) thick. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the patties are firm (about one hour).
Chocolate Coating: Melt the chocolate and shortening in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the patties from the refrigerator and dip, one patty at a time, into the melted chocolate, making sure both sides of each patty are completely coated with chocolate. (You can use 2 forks or a chocolate dipping fork.) Let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and then place the patties back on the foil. Once all the patties have been dipped in the chocolate, return to the refrigerator to chill until firm (30 – 60 minutes). Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container (separate layers with parchment paper or wax paper) for up to one month. Makes 25 – 30 patties.
2/3 c. nonfat dry milk
3/4 c. water
Mix water and dry milk together. Use instead of evaporated milk in recipes. Easy, huh?
I wrapped the extra patties individually in tinfoil and stored them away in the fridge for easy snacking. I also packed a few in a tin to send to a friend in D.C. Hope she likes them!