Introduction: Peppermint Patties and Junior Mints

About: I am one of those weird teen-age Christian homeschoolers, the kind that thinks their family is awesome and thinks that living on a farm is cool.

Here's a recipe for delicious success: Homemade Peppermint Patties! These much beloved minty sweets are so simple to make that you'll be surprised at how quickly and effortlessly you can put them together. They can even be made vegan, if you are so inclined.

I have also included a variation for Junior Mints towards the end of this tutorial.

So, make your own candy and control the ingredients, save money, and, most importantly, have FUN!

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment

To make these patties (1 batch yields about 20-30) you'll need:

2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 T.  light corn syrup, honey, or agave (your choice, they all work great!)
1 1/2 T. water
1 T. cream cheese (for the vegan option, simply omit the cream cheese. It is still plenty creamy without it!)
1/2 t. peppermint extract
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 T. shortening

2 cups semisweet morsels (go darker if you prefer; 65-75% chocolate works great too.)
2 T. butter (or shortening if you want to go vegan.)

Equipment you'll need:

Mixing Bowl
Cookie Sheet (not pictured)
Rolling Pin
Electric Mixer
Small  (1-1 1/2 inches in diameter) circular cookie cutter (A shot glass turned upside down will work in a pinch.)
Wax paper, parchment paper or silicone baking mat
Double Boiler or microwave
Measuring spoons/cups
Fork or dipping utensil (not pictured)

Step 2: Start Mixing

Take out your bowl and dump in the powdered sugar, liquid sweetener of choice, water, shortening, cream cheese, peppermint and vanilla. Blend with and electric mixer until well blended (mixture will be crumbly.) Stir with a spoon to help it all cohere, using a bit of hand-power if necessary.

Step 3: Roll and Cut the Dough

Next, scoop the smooth white ball of dough onto your work surface that has been lightly dusted in powdered sugar (I used my trusty silpat.) Roll out until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

(Psst! in that time you can have all those dishes cleaned and dried! Just sayin')

Step 4: Cut the Dough, Melt Chocolate

Using your cookie cutter (or shot glass)  punch circles into the dough, and put back into the freezer for another 10 minutes. While they are in the freezer, you'll start to melt the chocolate. If you are using a double boiler, set it up and put the chocolate chips and shortening into the top and begin melting. If you are using a microwave, put your ingredients into a heat proof bowl and commence melting, heating at 30 second intervals on high and stirring in between until smooth and without lumps.

Step 5: Dip!

When the chocolate is all melted and the patties are chilled, you're ready to dip! Take the patties out of the freezer and let them sit for a minute to avoid breakage when transferring to dip. Get out a cookie sheet and line with wax or parchment paper. Peel off the circles and one by one drop them into the chocolate and smooth the tops, coating each thoroughly. Place them on the cookie sheet and keep going until they are all sufficiently swathed in chocolate. Put them in the freezer for about 20 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.

For the 'Junior Mints' variation, simply gather up the odd shaped pieces and strips of dough leftover from the circle cutting process and roll them into small balls, flattening slightly on two sides to form the traditional junior mint shape. Pop them in the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm, and then dip them in the same manner as the circular mints. Chill until set.

Step 6: Enjoy!

You know what to do now without this step: enjoy the fruits of your labor! These make a fantastic after meal sweet or an afternoon pick-me-up. Just be sure to store them in the fridge to keep the chocolate from getting really melty.

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