Friday, February 17, 2012

Come Out of That Candy Closet

Valentines is over, but I'm hooked on hearts. I just feel like I'm not done yet; there are so many more cutesy things to make.And, honestly, I got way too many Valentine's themed baking supplies. Sprinkles, cupcake wrappers; you get the picture. You will be prepared for next year, I think. But then I realized, screw it, hearts are good all year long. Without further fanfare: on with the parade of pink.

First thing's first: I love candy. Yes, I'm approaching my mid-20s and I love candy (Want to fight about it? No? I didn't think so.) Maybe it doesn't say much about my taste, but let's get real here: What's better than a good, mass produced piece of candy when you want it? Come on, admit it- you're among friends. Who doesn't like the mixed textures of soft and hard, chocolate shells and smooth filings?
Answer: Home made candy. Do you need more help resisting buying candy at the grocery store? Good news- the solution is making your own. It is so much better. Phew- glad I got that out in the open. Now, let me also say that Peppermint Patties, while they are reminiscent of my favorite Peanuts character, are not my absolute favorite candy. I will eat anything mint and chocolate, but in my mind Peppermint Patties always needed a thicker shell. But these guys really surpassed by expectations.
The filling is softer than its mass-produced counterpart, and you can make the shell as thick or think as you like. As you might have noticed, I opted to make them heart shaped, and a little bit thicker than a normal peppermint patty. I like the big crunch you get from a thick layer of chocolate followed by a big, creamy center.

Now, here's the rough: This recipe is, apparently, rather finicky. I made them for this past Christmas (they were green on the inside!) and it was a cinch. Mixed everything in a bowl, chilled, shaped, and dipped in chocolate. This time around, something went a little bit wrong. The mint center, even after chilling, was sticky, wet, and hard to shape. As you can see, this led to the hearts looking a little rough. They still tasted amazing, but the filling was not fun to work with. I ended up shaping them into disks before making them into hearts, but it was still tough to get the shape I wanted. I ended up chilling them over night when only an hour or two was needed for my Christmas batch.
That being said, I will make these again and I think you should too. These little guys are utterly, utterly addictive. They actually taste just like Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream. Clean, minty insides with a hint of vanilla, tempered with big dark chocolate hunks. And you will want to eat all of them. With this in mind, I recommend packing them up and taking them to a Valentine, or a party, so everyone can share the burden of wanting to eat about nine of these equally.
Home-Made Peppermint Patties
Recipe Adapted from Sweetapolita

Note: The two times I made these I got different yields. I would say it makes between 30 and 45 small peppermint patties.

4 cups confectioners' sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1- 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract (or to taste)

3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons evaporated milk

Food coloring (I used one drop of Pink from my neon box)

1 16 oz bag of dark chocolate chips

Line two baking sheets with wax paper and set aside.

Combine sugar, butter, extracts, evaporated milk, and food coloring, if desired, in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix until creamy, (about 2 minutes) turning up the mixer as needed. Cover and chill mixture for approximately 30 minutes.

If mixture is workable, roll balls of filling in your hands and place on prepared sheet. Gently squish the balls down into disks with the palm of your hand. Chill for another hour, or until mixture is firm. Shape disks into hearts using your hands and a knife. Chill for another hour or until the hearts are firm and dry to the touch.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double burner. Using a fork or a slotted spoon, dip the candies, one at a time, into the chocolate. Turn to coat and return candy to the wax paper.

Keep them in the fridge.

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