Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Mints Creams

Pop on the Christmas CD and lets make more Christmas themed sugar.
Let’s start with the cheaters way.  
Bassetts Mint Creams. One of my many favourite things.  
There are only five shown in my example for the simple reason that I ate the others without barely drawing breath in between.  I love them, so it’s only right to cover them in chocolate as well.  
Like really thick After Eights, I simply dipped one half in melted milk chocolate and set them to one side on some baking paper to dry [stand them up if you want both sides covered]:

...before dipping the other half in melted white chocolate.  
To create a icing effect, I then added a little more white chocolate with a spoon to ripple the edge, 
but you don’t have to do this.  I then added a holly and berry decoration to the tops with icing pens.  
Perfect for after dinner coffees.

Now, if you fancy having a go at making your own, I use a really simplified, egg white free recipe as I use up enough with my meringue obsession and there is only so much homemade mayonnaise and ice-cream [at this time of year] I can make.  The ingredients are simple and this amount makes up a generous batch of mint cream stars, puddings, rounds, houses, hearts, snowballs, trees or whatever cutters you have.

What I Used:
150g icing sugar + more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon Peppermint Flavouring
1 1/2 tablespoons water

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl to form a paste – this should not be wet, but neither should it be so dry that it cannot be moulded, rolled or crumbles.  It takes a little work - I find a spatular the best.  When you can, form a ball that you can quickly move between your hands and pick up any mixture stuck to the bowl.  I find this measure of ingredients to work for me, but add a little more icing sugar or water to suit your preference and a test roll will let you know of which it needs more.
Roll the paste out with a rolling pin to a thickness of your choice – for mine, I went with around 0.5cm.
The key I found when rolling, was to make sure it is on a well icing sugar covered surface and add more to the top with each roll - this isn't easy to pick up and move about as you roll like pastry, so having the icing sugar helped a lot and prevented the rolling pin from sticking, or any trouble cutting and then transferring my mint creams to the tray:
  Now the fun can begin – cut out any shape you like, either free hand or using cookie cutters and place on a baking paper lined tray:
It's a messy process, just to warn you:
Let the mint creams set hard in the fridge.  If you can, cover in clingfilm and leave for a few hours to dry out, however; if you are pushed for time, 15-20 minutes should do the trick.  This way, they wont dissolve as soon as they hit the melted chocolate, giving you time to cover them, add any decoration or sprinkles and then leave them to set, retaining the shape.

I melted a bar of white chocolate in the microwave [if you're melting chocolate in the microwave, rather than in a bowl over simmering water, do so in 10 second bursts - mix the chocolate well between each 10 second burst and this will prevent you burning the chocolate] and covered just half of my star, putting it back on the cool tray and then covering in this:
and some other Christmas-y sprinkles:

If you want to cover all of your mint creams, the easiest way is to melt your milk chocolate in a bowl, over a simmering pan of water to keep it warm.  Place a mint cream on a fork and holding over the bowl, but not too close that the mint cream will heat up, take a spoon and either drizzle the chocolate over the top, or cover the mint cream.  The fork will allow any excess to be caught by the bowl and you can put the mint cream back on the baking tray to set, fairly quickly to prevent it from losing shape.

Once set in the fridge for at least a further 15 minutes [I left mine until the next day], the mint creams are ready to be shared out, packaged up as gifts, or eaten by yourself on the sofa on an afternoon......

I also left some plain and just covered the tops in white chocolate with a spoon - Wiltons is perfect as it has a higher melting point and wont melt in your hands or each time you pick them up.

....and you didn’t think I was finished with dressing everything up as a Christmas Pudding, did you?
This year, I think I've hit the maximum of Christmas Pudding desserts and sweets, but here is a very bad Instagram of some Christmas Mints Pies [boom, boom] and Snowball versions I made a few years ago - just as yum and simple:

Simply roll the mint cream paste into small balls, leave to set in the fridge and then cover half in icing sugar for the snowballs and the other half in milk chocolate, leave to set and then add white chocolate or white icing to the tops and then a simple star or holly and berry detail.
If you’re more interested in the food than the design, a really simple tray bake version is to make up and roll out the mint cream to fit a deep baking tray or dish [which you could also line with melted chocolate for the bottom if you want], leave to set in the fridge and then pour the milk/dark/white chocolate of your choice over the top to set.  You can be as creative as you want with this and can add sprinkles, candy cane and decorations.  Cut into squares [or use cookie cutters] to share out, or leave as one big slab to yourself [don’t do this – unless you love your dentist?].

The simplest finish of all is to leave them as they are and allow them to dry out, but if you fancy and little something extra, you can add a good coating of powdered icing sugar before they go in the fridge – the first layer will be a little absorbed and seal the mint cream and then any excess will give a snow finish, or sprinkle with a little granulated sugar to add a bit of crunch and when completely set, they will have a pretty, shimmery finish.

See you tomorrow x

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