When the weather outside is frightful, make peppermint patties!

I woke up last Saturday morning and looked outside to find every tree branch, pine needle, and berry encased in a layer of wet, glistening ice. The 5K I had planned to run had already been postponed until Sunday, so Matt and I decided that we didn’t need to brave the slick roads and instead would spend the entire day at home baking holiday goodies.

I kicked off the bake-a-thon at 10AM by making blueberry-lemon scones for breakfast.  Matt and I then baked a double batch of sugar cookies before launching into the day’s big project: homemade peppermint patties. The goal was to make enough patties to share with our neighbors and friends, and 12 dozen chocolate-dipped treats later I think we succeeded!

Peppermint patties are surprisingly easy to make. Just combine peppermint extract, softened butter, corn syrup, and lots of confectioners sugar. Form this “dough” into balls and press the balls into discs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Coat with melted chocolate and, voila! You now have homemade peppermint patties! If you’re feeling extra creative, add some green food coloring to the filling or sprinkle the freshly-coated patty with chocolate jimmies. (But a note of warning… don’t get so excited about your batch of green-filling-patties that you totally forget to put the peppermint extract in. I might have done that on my fourth and final batch. Sorry to any neighbor who bites into a green one and realizes that it just tastes like buttercream candy instead of peppermint!) 😁

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Homemade Peppermint Patties
(From Butter With a Side of Bread; makes about 3 dozen patties)

You will need…
1/2 stick (1/4 c) Butter, at room temperature
3 cups Confectioner’s Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Peppermint Extract (adjust to taste; we liked this amount)
1/3 cup Light Corn Syrup
2 cups Dark Dipping Chocolate (we used Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers, yum!)
Green Food Coloring to make the filling green (Optional)
Chocolate Jimmies for Sprinkling (Optional)

Directions:
In a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, peppermint extract and corn syrup. Mix for a few minutes until the filling forms a thick, paste-like consistency.  Break off small pieces of filling and roll into 1″ diameter balls. (They will look deceptively like mozzarella balls at this point.) Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and use your fingers to flatten them into discs. Freeze the discs for at least 20 minutes before attempting to dip them into the chocolate. The harder they are, the easier they will be to dip!

Melt the chocolate according to package instructions. We used a double boiler which kept the chocolate at the perfect consistency as we dipped batch after batch of patties. Use a fork or a special chocolate-dipping tool like these Wilton candy dippers to dip a frozen patty into the chocolate. Coat both sides, tap off any excess chocolate, then transfer the coated patty to a parchment-lined tray. (Or, if you’re making a quadruple batch like us, just cover your counters with wax paper and line up the patties there!) If using jimmies, sprinkle them over the patty immediately after you coat it.

Allow the chocolate to harden completely, then transfer the patties to an airtight container. Share them with friends or save them all for yourself, your choice! 😄

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Magic Mint Chocolate Bark

Peppermint Bark was one of the first recipes that Matt and I ever made together.  I remember the experience clearly… we were home from college on winter break in my mom’s kitchen and we slaved away over a double-boiler for what seemed like hours until our dark chocolate and white chocolate mixtures reached the perfect level of melted-ness.  Then we layered the chocolates (making sure to give the dark chocolate time to set before adding the white) and topped our masterpiece with crushed candy canes.  The resulting bark was decadent and well worth our time, but it was not easy to make!

Fast forward to present day…  It’s now quite common for Matt and me to spend an hour or two in the kitchen making dinner on a weeknight so that peppermint bark no longer seems like such a daunting task.  Nevertheless, we still jump at the chance to make easy recipes every now and then.  That’s where this Magic Mint Chocolate Bark comes in.  This delicious, fancy-looking bark literally took about 6 minutes to make and no double boilers required!

Magic Mint Chocolate Bark

I first saw this recipe when Anne from UniHomeaker.com posted it a few weeks ago.  I immediately decided that we had to make this mint chocolate bark ASAP.  Check out Anne’s post on this chocolately treat… she used crushed pretzels in her bark and it looks delicious!

Magic Mint Chocolate Bark

** Magic Mint Chocolate Bark **

(recipe from the back of the Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsel bag)

You will need…
Two 10 oz. bags Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels
1 handful Roasted, Salted Almonds, roughly chopped

Directions:
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and pour all of the chocolate and mint morsels onto it.  Spread the morsels so they are all touching and arranged in a single layer.  Place the pan in a preheated 325°F oven for 2-3 minutes or until the morsels look wet and shiny.  Remove the pan from the oven and immediately swirl the chips together using the end of a butter knife.

Distribute the almonds evenly over the swirled chocolate.  To help the almonds sink into the bark, raise the pan about 3″ above the counter and drop it back onto the counter.  Repeat this process a few more times.  Refrigerate the bark for an hour or until completely cooled.  Break into pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Magic Mint Chocolate Bark

Whoopie Pies!

We’re home from Las Vegas so it’s time for more holiday recipe catch-up.  Next up on the list: homemade whoopie pies!

Whoopie Pies

We spent the last hours of 2012 at a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza and Celebrity-Themed Potluck hosted by Kristen from Swig O Sunshine.  The rules of the potluck were simple: bring a dish with a celebrity-named twist.  Matt and I were determined to come up with a fun contribution and, after weeks of bouncing around ideas we chose Whoopi Goldberg Pies with Leonardo diCappucino Filling.  (We previously wanted to make Twice-Baked Channing Taters but the logistics of keeping cheesy ‘taters warm until midnight ultimately pushed us in the dessert direction instead!)  Other cleverly-named treats at the party included Guacy Balboa guacamole, Honey Brie-Brie baked brie, Brad Pittzelle cookies (with and without Jennifer Anise-ton!), Bernie Mac and Cheese, and several Kevin Bacon-themed goodies.

This was our first attempt at making whoopie pies but, thanks to the classic recipes in this whoopie-filled cookbook they turned out great!  We followed the recipe exactly (right down to using vegetable shortening instead of butter in the filling) and then we added the necessary diCappucino flair with some powered instant cappucino.  The instant cappucino didn’t have a super strong flavor so if we were going to make the coffee-flavored filling again we might try instant espresso instead for a little more kick.

I made this sign to go along with our 'whoopi' pies at the potluck dinner.

I used cartoon faces and photoshop to make a sign that illustrated the celebrities that inspired this dessert at the potluck dinner.

Whoopi Goldberg Pies with Leonardo diCappucino Filling (from Whoopie Pies)

Ingredients for the Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pie…
1 2/3 cups All-Purpose Flour
2/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons Vegetable Shortening
1 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar (we used Dark Muscovado Sugar)
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Milk

Ingredients for the Classic Marshmallow Filling…
1 1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract (to turn this into “diCappuncino” filling, substitute in 1 tablespoon Instant Espresso that’s been dissolved into 1 tablespoon warm water instead of the vanilla)

Directions:
To make the pies, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  In a stand mixer, combine the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on low speed, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Slowly add the flour mixture and the milk and and mix on low to thoroughly combine.  Scrap a spatula down the sides of the bowl to loosen any dry ingredients and then beat until completely combined.  Use a spoon to drop batter in 1 or 2 tablespoon increments 2 or 3 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  (We used 2-tbsp scoops which resulted in about 26 3.5″ pie halves; go smaller for more but just be consistent since they’ll need to fit together later!)  Bake the pies on the center rack of a preheated 375° oven for about 10 minutes for 1 tbsp pies or 12-13 minutes for 2 tbsp pies.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to racks to cool.

Whoopie Pies ready for filling

To make the filling, beat together the marshmallow fluff and vegetable shortening for approximately 3 minutes.  Start on low speed and increase to medium until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla (or espresso!) and mix until incorporated.  Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes until the mixture is fluffy.

Once the pies are completely cooled arrange them in pairs with one flat side facing up as shown in the above photo.  Place a generous amount of filling to the flat side of the pie by either spooning the filling on or using a pastry bag for a more polished look.  Top the filled pies with the other pie halves and enjoy!

Whoopie Pies 2