Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Baking Challenge Week 14 - Rainbow - Peppermint Roses

I don't have a big family.  Some people find it hard to believe that there are only three children in my generation--myself, my big brother, and our 'little' cousin.  (I remember when she was born very clearly, and now she has a Master's degree.  What's up with that?)

So I don't have the same sort of family experiences a lot of other people have had.  The first wedding I ever went to wasn't until college, and I've never been to a bridal or a baby shower.  Really, I never have!

Which is what I blame for not knowing of the existence of cream cheese mints until my husband's grandmother made them for our own wedding.  I managed not to stuff my face then--I was busy!--but a few years later, at his cousin's wedding, I did actually eat so many of these I got sick.  They're that good.  And also, dinner was late and I sometimes display an amazing lack of willpower.

I don't find I have reason to make these very often, but since I'm not a big fan of rainbow cakes or cupcakes, and I just proved a few weeks ago that my frosting skills need work, I wanted something that was both off the beaten path, and practically guaranteed to turn out.

If peppermint isn't your thing, feel free to use a different flavor--I'm particularly fond of butter rum, myself!

Cream Cheese Mints
  • 1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened (full-fat, please)
  • 1 2-lb package powdered sugar
  • several drops of peppermint oil (or about 1/4 tsp peppermint extract)
  • gel or paste food coloring, as desired
  • extra powdered sugar, for kneading
  • granulated sugar, for rolling
 Note: if you plan to make the entire batch one color, it's easiest to blend the food coloring in along with the peppermint oil, instead of kneading it into the finished dough, as I did to get six colors.

Beat the cream cheese together with the peppermint oil until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing on low speed, until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture forms a ball.

Turn out onto a plastic cutting board dusted with more powdered sugar (not wood, you'll see why in a second!)  Divide the dough into pieces according to the colors you plan to use; I went with six roughly equal parts.  Working with one piece at a time, add a few dabs of food coloring with a toothpick or the tines of a fork.  Knead the coloring into the dough until the color is even, dusting the board with more powdered sugar if necessary.  Repeat with the other pieces, thoroughly washing and drying your hands in between colors if excess pigment gets on your skin.  (I found the green and purple to be staining, but not the others, so just be careful!)

Break off small pieces of dough and roll into balls.  Roll the balls in granulated sugar.  If using a mold, press the sugared ball into it to form the shape (and adjust the size of your balls for next time, I tended to make mine too big.)  If not using molds, you can flatten the balls in a criss cross pattern with a fork, like you would a peanut butter cookie.

Either way, lay the mints out to dry on waxed-paper-lined cookie sheets.  After several hours of air-drying, they're firm enough to store in airtight containers.  At room temperature they're good for several weeks (not that they'll last that long), and they freeze very well for up to a year.

1 comment:

  1. What a unique take on the challenge, you've made a beautiful rainbow! I also have never heard of cream cheese mints. Now I'm curious!!