Saturday, December 6, 2008

Moving on to Peppermint...

So, today I saw this recipe in the New York Times that according to this article is a recipe originally published in 1879. What is it for, you ask?

Well... I gave it away already, but its for Old Fashioned Peppermint Candy. It has 3 ingredients and one of them it water, so obviously I had to try it immediately. The article makes it sound sooooo easy... just add 2.25 cups sugar, some amount of water thats not totally clear, and 1 tsp peppermint extract. Being the prudent sort that I am (ha), I decided to start with a small batch. I used 1 cup sugar, .5 cup water, and .5tsp extract. I got going, and it all was going swimmingly- it boiled really well, it just took FOREVER and wouldn't turn brown. Then things started going downhill fast. In pretty much no time, it looked like this:I really have no idea what made it stop being clear and melted and start being a giant mass of hard crystalized sugar, but obviously this does not look like pepperminty goodness at ALL. Instead it more strongly resembles my last kitchen disaster, the infamous sweetened condensed milk debacle.

Never one to be deterred, I got right back on the horse and tried again. This time, I used less water- maybe 1/4 cup water to 1 cup sugar. And..... (*DRUMROLL, PLEASE!*)... it totally worked! As you can see here, it poured out nicely looking remarkably like the stuff in the article:
(by the way- that is a teeny cookie sheet, not an enormous batch of stuff).

In addition, if you are impatient for it to cool, like me, you can bend it into cool shapes, like this:

And then it shatters- it is seriously super hard and the edges are very sharp:

Generally speaking, this is my review of the situation- I recommend it, because it needs almost no ingredients and is kind of fun. But, if I were doing it again, I would add more peppermint (maybe 1 tsp for 1 cup of sugar) to make the flavor stronger. Its not really minty enough to do much, but it is tasty. I would also put in food coloring at the end when you add the extract- its just not that cute the way it is now. Unfortunately, I used up all my red food coloring making red velvet cupcakes, and all I had left was the empty bottle. And finally, I would capitalize on the phase where you can bend it around- you could make something cool. This stuff tastes pretty good, but there might be some fun garnish kind of thing that could be done with it for some other dessert (I'm thinking chocolate).

Anyways, now you try!

4 comments:

King said...

That ratio works well but it's hard to get it really pepperminty, even with three times the recommended amount.

yellowfish said...

Good to know I can put that much in there... I think even if it was just a little more pepperminty I'd be more into it.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I've tried three times now and still end up with the mess you showed in your first picture.

What's the consistency of the mixture when you start to heat it? Is it like, say, very thick applesauce? Or more like wet sand?

When I boil it, it froths up an inch or so. Is that what happens when you boil it? I don't see how it can ever cool into a clear sheet if it's that full of bubbles. I must be doing something wrong.

Do you stir it a lot? or not at all?

Medium-high heat the whole time?

yellowfish said...

I think the thing that was different about the batch that worked was that I used less water (I'm trying to remember the consistency, but I can't..) and cooked it really slow- probably medium to pretty low heat. I also made really really sure the pan was perfectly super clean and dry. I had the same frothiness the first time, but it didn't froth the time it worked, there were tons of thick looking bubbles, but it didn't look all foamy. The, the bubbles went from being clear to being a little bit brown and when it was all kind of yellowish thats when I poured it out... hope that helps a bit!

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