Episode 2: Cream Cheese Mints

Christmas has come and gone, four times!, for my family.  Now that we’re all done with the giving and receiving, I thought I would share a Christmas gift with you: an unbelievably delicious mint recipe.  This is what I made to give to each family that we saw at the big Christmas party we went to on Friday.  It does contain dairy (I had set my heart on making these before I realized that dairy was such a big problem for my family, and, well, I’m kind of stubborn, so I made these anyway).  It is soy-free, though, and it was a huge hit, so it would be a great gift to make for anyone with no dairy sensitivities or even an innovative item to take to a dinner party or potluck.

I do intend to work up a non-dairy/non-soy mint recipe eventually, so you could just wait for that instead, and as long as you don’t mention that you had thought of making “cream cheese mints”, no one will know the difference!

Cream Cheese Mints

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 – 1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil, depending on how strong you want your mints (And, yes, I do mean the peppermint oil that you can find in aromatherapy and lip-balm-making sections of stores. Just read the label or ask a store associate to ensure you are getting an edible type of oil.)
  • 8 cups of confectioners’ sugar
  • Food coloring (optional)

Directions

  1. Put cream cheese in microwave on high for 10 second intervals until mostly softened (it can help to break the cream cheese into chunks first as it will be more likely to become softened through to the center without cooking around the edges in smaller pieces).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, blend cream cheese, peppermint oil, and food coloring (if using) until well mixed.
    1. You can vary the amount of peppermint oil you used based on how much mint flavor you like.  Buttermint strength would be about 1/4 of a teaspoon, but what I did was I made several colors and had each color be a different strength of mint, ranging from 1/8-1/2 teaspoon of peppermint oil – and they all tasted great.
    2. As for food coloring, remember you will be mixing in a lot of confectioners’ sugar, so if you want a strongly colored mint you will need to use perhaps a bit more food coloring than you think you will, and then some again.
  3. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar.  You will want to mix it in by the cup, and if you are using a hand-mixer, there will come a point where even the strongest motor may not be able to handle this without the special mixing technique I explain for you below.  Be prepared to mix the last few cups in either with a spoon or by getting your hands dirty, as it is more than possible to kill the motor in your hand-mixer (honest confession here: I may have killed the motor on my more powerful hand-mixer before I figured out this technique; I still need to test it and see if the motor has recovered or if I will need to add a new hand-mixer to my birthday wishlist…).
  4. Spread some confectioners’ sugar on a flat surface (I found a pastry mat to be ideal for this) and some on your hands, too!  Grab a small handful of the cream cheese mixture and roll it into a ball in your hands, then turn that into a thick cylinder and place that on your working surface, rolling it back and forth until it becomes a thin rope.  Push it off to the side (or, more ergonomically, to the top) and use a thin knife to slice it into small sections.  Adjust how you slice it up depending on whether you want these to be small nuggets like buttermints, or thin slices.  You can also use a small stamp or a fork to create patterns on the sections.  I found it wise to prepare and slice several ropes up, pushing them to the top of my pastry mat, and let them begin to dry a little before squishing them with a fork.
  5. Line cookie sheets, cooling racks, bar pans, or whatever type of flat surfaces you might have available with waxed paper and heavily dust with confectioners’ sugar. Transfer your prepared mints to these to finish drying.  If you slice your mints small enough, they could be ready to package in as soon as 12 hours, but I would suggest allowing even the thinnest mints 24 hours if possible.  Thicker mints will take longer to become completely dry, perhaps up to 48 or even 72 hours.  Be sure to allow room for the air to circulate around these mints or they will take longer to dry!
  6. Mints should keep for several weeks in an air-tight container.  No need to refrigerate, though refrigerating will not hurt them.

Alright, what is that super-secret blender technique that will keep your motor alive (if done properly)?  For a recipe that gets as thick as this one, you will want to add in your dry ingredients in small batches.  Each time you dump more of the dry ingredients (confectioners’ sugar for this recipe) onto the top of your wet mixture, you will want to just barely dip the spinning part of your blender into the top.  Just get through the dry ingredients and get barely enough of the wet mixture for your dry ingredients to begin mixing in a bit.  This will form weird lumps and balls that you can then mix into the wet mixture by moving your hand-mixer around the edges of your mixing bowl, where the ingredients will be thinnest.  Once it is fairly uniformly mixed around the edges, take quick spins across the center of the bowl to finish mixing this batch of ingredients.  Be careful not to dip your mixer too deep for too long or any extra thick mixture that you are working with could burn out your motor!  Repeat these steps as necessary to mix in the required amount of dry ingredients.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and your newfound hand-mixer expertise!  See you next time, for another exciting episode (of some sort)!

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