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10/12/2013 10:47:00

Peppermint creams


It's coming up for Christmas and the annual 'appropriateness of gifts' issue rears its head: whether to buy gifts for teachers and childcarers, whether to just give them a card, or get a child to make something, and if so, what?

So if you have decided to plump for the "get the kids to make something" option, here's a simple recipe which is fun to make at any age and a nice sweet treat which is easy to present prettily. A two year old can make these with minimal help and there's plenty of rolling and shaping to make it interesting.
And even if your teacher doesn't like them, they'll find it easy to pass them on to guests who visit them for Christmas. Although, really, who doesn't like peppermint creams?



This version of the recipe doesn't use any raw eggs and just uses ordinary icing sugar, rather than ready made royal icing.

Cas made his peppermint creams without using a proper recipe - I can just remember making these when I was little and could remember it being basically a whole box of icing sugar for a few tablespoons of evap milk. So we just checked online that I wasn't going mad, and went along with that.



Ingredients:



A 500g box of icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint essence
green food colouring if wished but not necessary (about 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon depending on whether it's natural colour or synthetic - natural is less vibrant)
chocolate to dip if you wish to decorate them




The first job is to add the icing sugar to a VERY BIG BOWL. As it tends to puff everywhere it makes sense to have one which will contain it a bit so use the biggest bowl you can find.

Don't put the whole box in, leave about 50g in the box so you have some for rolling the mix out later.

You don't have to sieve the icing sugar but we did sieve it for two reasons - one is because it slows the process down and stops it being such a "tip-upside-down-and-watch-the-sugar-coat-the-kitchen" affair, and the other is because it is a good skill to learn so why not take the chance to practice? Stirring the icing sugar to help it through the sieve as well as shaking the sieve helps get any crystally lumps out.

 


Next Cas added some evaporated milk. It should need about 3-4 tablespoons for 450g. But you should start with 3 tablespoons and mix that in thoroughly. Add your peppermint essence and green colouring (if you are using colouring) before adding any more evaporated milk, because the colour and flavour will make it wetter, so it's no good getting it to the right texture and then adding those and wondering why it's gone sticky!

It's no big deal if you add too much and it goes sticky, you can just add more icing sugar, the same way as you would add a little flour to an over wet dough, but obviously if you've only got a little bit of icing sugar left and you'd have to stop and go and buy some more, it's easier to err on the side of dryness than wetness. Obviously if you need more liquid, add more!



So Cas added three spoons and the peppermint, and he wanted to use a little bit of green colour, then he mixed it all up. In the end we had to add about another 1/2 tablespoon of evaporated milk but the whole four spoons would have been too much.


Cas started mixing with a wooden spoon just long enough to get the green colour and peppermint spread around a bit and not all over this hands, but then of course you have to get your hands in the mixture and squidge it! He carried on mixing until it was all even in a thick, ever so slightly tacky dough.

You'll need a bit of icing sugar on the worktop to stop the dough sticking, and then it should be rolled out to the thickness you want them to be - we went for about 1/2 cm because they are very sweet.


Then it's the really fun bit! Cas chose lots of different cookie cutters and cut out some cool shapes. Children may need to be shown how to press gently to pop the shape out of the cutter rather than tugging and stretching if it doesn't fall out straight away. Anna showed him how to do it.


We put our finished peppermint creams onto a sheet of greaseproof paper so that they could dry out and set, because it's easier to peel them off.

They will take a couple of hours to set and harden. We ate ours just as they are, but you can also dip them in chocolate or put sprinkles on to them. Put them in a little clear food bag with some Christmas wrapping around the top and there's your little homemade gift.

Enjoy!









Comments

11/12/2013 09:43:00 by Deb Rose

Hi I've got a recipe for peppermint creams which has a lot more milk in it - it has 4-6 tablespoons for only 225g of sugar. Is this right?

11/12/2013 09:52:00 by Moderator

Hi Deb, no there does seem to be a lot of variation in the amounts on different recipes. It depends on how much colouring or peppermint you are using, and also on how hot and sticky your little Chef's hands are and how likely they are to need bucket loads of sugar on the work surface to roll it out. When we made them with more milk in they were fine but a bit wet and they spread a little from the original cutter shape while they were drying out. Best to start with a smaller amount and knead, and then if the mix is too dry, add more liquid. You're looking for a dough which is pliable and smooth but not gooey. Just experiment and see!

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