Tag Archives: Homemade Junk Food

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.

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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/

Tiny Cheese Crackers

I avoid processed junk food as a general rule, preferring to make my own from scratch. This doesn’t mean there aren’t processed foods I find delicious; it just means I avoid buying them, because I know it’s hard to overcome the hard-wired human instinct to consume as much fat, salt, and sugar as possible. Or in my case, an entire box of Cheez-Its.

bake_on_cookie_sheets

So I never buy Cheez-Its anymore (but I am still guilty of the occasional box of Cheddar Bunnies.) To compensate, I developed an obsession with making my own from scratch. After several test batches over the years, I’ve finally tweaked the recipe enough to capture my favorite things about Cheez-Its. And then make them even better.

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Of course, that means they’re just as fatty and salt-laden as the store-bought kind (probably even more so.) But at least you know what’s in them.

snacktime

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