Tag Archives: Candy

Chocolate Covered Mints

homemade_junior_mints

I’ve always been a fan of soft, chocolate-covered mints — Junior Mints, Peppermint Patties, I love them all equally but don’t much venture into the candy aisle these days. However, they’ve been lurking in the back of my brain’s “to make” file for years now. I finally caved when, during a night of Christmas baking, I realized that I had TWO bottles of good quality peppermint extract taking up space in my cupboard.

Dip_in_melted_chocolate

I turned to two of my favorite cookbooks¬†for inspiration. Both were in agreement on the basic proportions, except for the most important flavor¬†— one recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract to 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, and the other a full tablespoon per 2 cups of sugar (for the record, the latter also says you can use peppermint oil but I haven’t tried it). I settled for 1/2 tablespoon of extract and found it to be perfectly minty.

humble_ingredients

Just ignore that corn syrup lurking behind the more wholesome ingredients.

I generally avoid corn syrup, but this is one of a few cases where I use it in a recipe because there wasn’t a reliable substitute available (and hey, it’s only a tablespoon). I considered trying a batch with honey instead, since it’s hygroscopic like corn syrup, but thought it might change the color and flavor too much (if you try it, I’d love to hear how it turns out!). However, I did have excellent luck replacing the shortening in the original recipes with extra-virgin coconut oil. That counts for something, right?

scraping_the_bowl

heart_shaped_patties_not_recommended

For my trial run, I tried to make patties with a little heart-shaped cookie cutter but their shape didn’t hold up well during a brief trip through melted chocolate (a 1″ round might work better). I soon realized I couldn’t eat the entire batch in the name of quality control, and moved on to Plan B — rolling each heart into a little ball. They were much easier to coat in chocolate, if not as cute.

fresh_minty_balls

The finished candy can be stored in the fridge or freezer, layered between pieces of parchment paper in an airtight container. I recommend storing them near the back, where they won’t be as visible.

layer_in_airtight_container_and_hide

Chocolate Covered Mints

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: About 25 bite-sized mints

Chocolate Covered Mints

Cool, creamy and refreshing. These homemade treats are like Junior Mints or Peppermint Patties, but way better than anything you'll find in the candy aisle.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin coconut oil, softened
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 cups good quality dark chocolate chips or pieces

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine sugar, salt, corn syrup, oil, peppermint extract, and water. Form a workable dough using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, or kneading by hand, adding a bit of extra water if necessary.
  2. If making balls, a metal measuring spoon works well to divvy up the dough (I used 1/4 tsp). Roll pieces of dough into balls by hand and put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours. If making patties, place the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and roll out to about 1/4 or 1/2 inch thickness, then freeze for 30-60 minutes before cutting out the patties. Place cutouts on a cookie sheet to freeze for at least 2 hours.
  3. Heat chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely-simmering water until it melts, let it cool to about 80F, and then heat it once again -- this tempers the chocolate and gives you a nice shiny coating on your candy.
  4. Let the chocolate cool for a few minutes, then take the mint centers out of the freezer a few at a time. Use a fork to quickly roll them in the chocolate, then tap off the excess and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Freeze until hard, then give the cookie sheet a shake to release the mints. Some may stick and lose pieces of their chocolate shell, you can just reheat the leftover chocolate and patch them (or better yet, eat them immediately).
  5. Store mints between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container, in the fridge or freezer. Bring to room temperature before serving, or enjoy them frozen.

Notes

Adapted from Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It (by Karen Solomon) and Gourmet.

http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/chocolate-covered-mints/

Honeycomb Layer Cake

 

For Mother’s Day this year, Mom had a special request: A cake she recently tasted at a friend’s birthday party, which they special ordered from a bakery in the Bay Area. I’d never thought to put the combination together, but I make all the components regularly:

press_honeycomb_around_sides

Yellow cake, filled and topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream, and the key ingredient: Honeycomb candy.

I make honeycomb (also known as seafoam, angel food, sponge candy, and hundreds of other names), every year for part of my Dad’s Christmas present. It’s essentially a hard caramel that has a little bit of baking soda whisked in at the end, so that it foams up and hardens into a spongy, crunchy, almost-too-sweet candy.

break_into_pieces

Honeycomb is simple, in the sense that it has only 4 ingredients and a few steps, but it’s easy to screw up. A little extra humidity or barometric pressure, a bit too much stirring, and you’ve just wasted a bunch of sugar. Recipes like this cake are a good way to use honeycomb that’s a little too dense, since you’re crushing it anyway. Good thing, since I was prepping the cake in the middle of the night and wasn’t about to make another batch. Sorry, Mom.

275F

I’m still trying to find the perfect recipe that doesn’t involve corn syrup, but unfortunately it seems to produce the most consistent results. I once made a perfect batch using honey instead, but all my other attempts burned — maybe I’ll revisit that again someday in another post.

I did a quick search for “honeycomb cake” and found a few similar recipes — some that used buttercream frosting, and one that included a hefty dose of ground up candy in the cake batter, too. I suspected those would be too complicated and way, WAY too rich based on my experience with the stuff. I think I was right.

whipped_cream_frosting

 

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