Somehow the simplest things in life always seem the most difficult for me. A box brownie mix turns out dry and flavorless; grilled chicken ends up pink on the inside and charred on the edges; a walk down the block to buy milk results in a turned ankle, my dress hitched up into my underwear, and tears running down my face half an hour later.
Seriously, I don't know why it's so hard. I can make a Thomas Keller recipe, do a perfect tree pose in yoga, and write a freakin book (two, if you count my shelved novel), but I can't cook the simplest things or perform the most basic tasks.
I've talked about this before, and my theory then was that the more involved/difficult something is expected to be, the more I focus, so of course the better it turns out. But my new theory is this: I suck at simple. That's just all there is to it.
These peppermint patties are no exception. All the bloggers who have posted about them have lauded their simplicity and ease, extolling the wonders of homemade candy in no time, with little effort. And to that I say: phooey!
In fairness, I should say that these actually didn't take that long. And they weren't difficult. But neither were they stress-free. I made a huge mess, yelled at the bf, and nearly broke down into tears of frustration as my chocolate became harder and harder and the patties got softer and softer.
And they turned out... actually pretty well! Kind of ugly, compared to the others I've seen out there in the blogosphere, and nowhere near the right texture at room temp (kind of gooey in the middle), but tasty, even delicious when correctly chilled, and I did end up with a few decent-looking ones to take into the office (obviously, I've photographed the star patties here– I can't subject you to the hideousness of the freaks).
Outside the context of my own neurotic kitchen, by the way, these guys were a hit– everyone at the office seemed well impressed.
So give it a try! And, unlike me, make sure you buy enough powdered sugar (at least 5 cups). And the right kind of chocolate. And enough of the right kind of chocolate... Look, just don't be like me, ok? Do as I say, not as I do.
adapted from SSL
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine:
2 c powdered sugar
1 Tbsp peppermint extract
1 tin (14oz or 397g) condensed milk
Mix on low speed until completely incorporated, then add more powdered sugar, 1/2c at a time, until the gloop is no longer sticky and has the texture of modeling clay (if you run out of powdered sugar like I did, cornstarch is a good de-stickifier, but use it sparingly, adding one Tbsp at a time).
Form the dough into small balls (about 3/4 of an inch across), and smush into disks on parchment or wax paper. Put the disks into the freezer to set while you melt the chocolate.
In a microwave-safe bowl (ie not the cute red plastic bowls your sister gave you for christmas, because they'll get extremely hot and possibly kill you), in 30-sec bursts, melt:
1 large bar of dark chocolate, broken into chunks (I ran out, so maybe buy 2 large bars and re-melt as you go– no need to waste any!)
2-3 Tbsp butter, enough to make the chocolate manageable without thinning it too much
Dip the patties in the chocolate, coating them completely, then pick them up on the tines of a fork, letting the excess drip off as much as possible before placing them on a new sheet of wax paper/parchment. When you've dipped all the patties, put them in the fridge and allow the chocolate to cool completely, until hard to the touch and matte-looking.