22 December 2010

Eadaoin's Peppermint Creams: "Help! I Need Somebody"*

The other week a friend uttered some words that sent me into shock, fear and despair. I just hadn’t seen it coming. There was no prior warning -- I was caught completely off-guard.

And those words were: “We’re doing home-made gifts this year.”

Now, it hardly needs to be said, but Kirstie Allsop I am not. (I imagine I’d have a few more readers if I was. And far more shoes. But I digress.) I appreciate and (sometimes) envy all of you lovely talented people who can craft and create with your own fair hands, but mine are mere fingers and thumbs, which keep getting in the way of each other. I lack the dexterity and the patience. And besides, I’d already picked out the perfect gift for said friend, which will now languish unloved on a lonely shop’s shelf. I ask you, does any of this sound fair?

In my initial panic I did what I usually do. I turned to Twitter. And as it sometimes does, it came up trumps, reminding me yet again of what a genuinely warm and friendly online community I’m lucky to be part of.

The incredibly talented Eadaoin, who writes the gorgeous blog, City of Blackbirds, suggested I turn my hand to peppermint creams. And not only that, she took the time to email me an (almost) idiot proof recipe, complete with links to delicious looking images of the final product, for inspiration. And inspired I was, not by the peppermint creams, but by the kindness and generosity of someone I ‘only’ know online.

Eadaoin, we are so doing lunch in the New Year.

So here it is, the recipe for Eadaoin’s Peppermint Creams, originally from the Ideal Home’s Complete Guide to Christmas magazine (and modified slightly, out of necessity, by me).

Makes 20 to 30
Takes 20 min, plus overnight drying (or if you're anything like me, about 6 days should do it). 

You'll need:

*225g (80z) icing sugar
*4 - 6 tbsp condensed milk
*half tsp peppermint extract
*green food colouring paste (optional)
* dark chocolate for coating (optional again)

1. Gather all your ingredients together. Turns out peppermint is popular at this time of year and the extract couldn’t be found for love nor money. So after a couple of days of hardcore searching, I found this food grade oil in a health shop, instead, and because it’s stronger I used only a quarter of a teaspoon, which was plenty. 



2. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl.  Gradually stir in the condensed milk and peppermint - the mixture should come together like dough. (And to my surprise, it did.)

3. Sprinkle a little icing sugar on a clean worksurface and gently knead the dough for a minute or so.  If you like, tiny half the dough green by kneading in a little food colouring until the colour is even. (I was planning on dipping mine in chocolate so I skipped the food colouring stage). 



4. Roll the dough out to about 4mm thick.  Stamp out stars with a cookie cutter, arrange on sheets of baking paper and leave to dry overnight. 

Now, here’s where I deviated because, due to my General Kitchen Aversion Disorder (it’s an illness, people), I don’t actually own a rolling pin. No judging! So instead I rolled the dough into two little logs, which I wrapped in baking paper and left to dry overnight, before slicing into some rather wonky shapes. 



5. Next I attempted to melt some chocolate. I say attempted because apparently this can’t be done in the microwave – who knew?! After I disposed of the strange burned powdery mess, I replaced the creams in the fridge until I had time to stock back up on chocolate.

6. But in the meantime I impressed myself by coming over all Betty Crocker and whipping up a batch of HOME MADE FUDGE! There was lots of condensed milk left so I whacked in some peanut butter and a bit of butter and heated till it all combined. Then I poured it into a container to set and left it overnight in the fridge. 


7. EXCEPT IT DIDN’T SET. Because I am not, in fact, Betty Crocker. Or even Kirstie Allsop. So I rolled the squidgy gooballs in chocolate and made some home-made peanut butter cups, instead.

8. And then I dipped the peppermint creams in some new chocolate (which I melted in a bowl over a pan of boiling water) and put back in the fridge to dry. 





So, like I say, almost idiot proof, except they took me about 3 days to make because of my aforementioned medical illness that totally isn’t laziness and/or my fault. And about another 3 days running around town trying to find peppermint extract. The guts of a day looking for boxes (again, a scarcity at Christmas time). Oh yeah, and a day or two trying to figure out how to avoid buying a rolling pin. Simples!

tissued and boxed





ready for wrapping

They taste pretty damn good though, if I do say so myself. And I suppose I do have a weird sense of pride that I made them all by myself. Well, unless that’s a slight tummy ache from too many peppermint creams. 

What do you think, will you be giving them a bash?

*Lyric from The Beatles, 'Help'

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