Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your friends and family! We had a great day filled with a ton of good food. I think Thanksgiving is one of the few days of the year that I would rather eat the savory than the sweet - that's a pretty big statement coming from this dessert lover :) Did anyone brave Black Friday? Last year I woke up crazy early and braved the crowds to score some good deals, but this year I was just too exhausted. There was no way I was setting my alarm for 3 am. I still went out, but at a more reasonable hour. Surprisingly, the crowds weren't too bad, and I snagged a few gifts to finally get started on my Christmas shopping. As much as I enjoyed Thanksgiving, I am excited to turn the page and start thinking about Christmas, especially all of the cooking and baking that goes along with the month of December!
I'm always super excited to get started on my holiday baking - peppermint and gingerbread and all the other delicious flavors so closely associated with this time of year. Before we even get to December I usually have enough recipes flagged to last 3 holiday seasons. I actually bookmarked these homemade peppermint patties last year, and have been eagerly awaiting the time when I could finally try them. I lost my resolve to wait until after Thanksgiving, and headed into my kitchen a few weeks ago to whip them up. They were definitely worth the wait - they taste just like the store-bought peppermint patties I know and love, but like all homemade treats, they're even better! If you're looking to give homemade food gifts to your friends and family, I think these would be an awesome idea. Packaged in a cute box with a nice ribbon, I know I'd love to receive them :) They can even be made up to a month in advance so you can get them done before things get too hectic at the last minute.
Just a few quick notes on the recipe - the filling can be pretty sticky, making it tricky to work with. The two ways I dealt with this problem were by keeping the filling well chilled, and by dusting the work surface and the filling with confectioners' sugar. I was pretty liberal with the confectioners' sugar and didn't think the quality of my candy suffered. This recipe also includes instructions for tempering your chocolate, which, if done properly, will give the chocolate a glossy sheen and a crisp texture. I'd never tried it before and had limited success when I attempted it here, though I don't blame the recipe so much as my lack of patience. I wound up just melting some chocolate with a bit of shortening to make life easier. I included instructions for both below. Oh, and if you have a favorite method for tempering chocolate or some tips, I'd love to hear them :)
from Gourmet, December 2007 (via Epicurious)
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
pinch of salt
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2 1/4 cups of the confectioners' sugar, the corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening and salt. Beat at medium speed just until combined. Dust your work surface with some of the remaining 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar. Transfer the mixture to your prepared work surface, and knead until smooth (if it's too sticky to work with, you can add additional confectioners' sugar). Roll between 2 sheets of parchment paper until you have a 7 to 8-inch circle that's between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to your freezer and freeze until firm, at least 15 minutes.
Remove from the freezer and peel the parchment from one side of the candy - sprinkle the candy well with confectioners' sugar then replace the parchment. Flip the candy over and remove the other sheet of parchment. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar. Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as possible, transferring them to a parchment-lined baking sheet. When you've cut as many as possible, transfer the baking sheet with the rounds to the freezer. Gather the scraps and reroll them, then freeze and cut more rounds, adding them to the parchment-lined baking sheet. If at any time the dough gets soft pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes.
You have two options for dipping:
(1) If you want to temper the chocolate:
Melt 7.5 oz of the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pan and add the remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool the chocolate until an instant-read thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into the chocolate registers 80 F.
Return the water in the pan to a boil then remove it from the heat. Set the bowl over the pan and reheat the chocolate, stirring constantly, until the thermometer registers 88-91 F. Remove the bowl from the pan.
Working with one round at a time, place it on a fork and dip it in the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Transfer back to the parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining rounds. You can rewarm the chocolate over the pan of water if it cools too much. Allow the chocolate to set for at least an hour.
(2) If you don't want to temper the chocolate:
Add the chocolate and 1 tablespoon of shortening to a microwave-safe bowl (it will be easier to dip if you pick one that's deep rather than shallow). Microwave for 60 seconds on full power, then stir well. Continue to microwave in 10-second bursts, stirring in between each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. (You could do this over a double boiler too if you prefer.)
Working with one round at a time, place it on a fork and dip it in the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Transfer back to the parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining rounds. Allow the chocolate to set completely.
Store the peppermint patties in an airtight container in the fridge (layered between sheets of parchment) for up to a month.
Makes about 4 dozen