Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sweet tooth - Peppermint

Holiday Goodies

It's time to start holiday baking, if you haven't already.  Two quick and easy treats that don't require lighting an oven, one copied from a new friend's blog, one posted in this blog about four or five years ago. And two more that take a bit of doing,but the results would be so very worth it!


I first had this White Chocolate Peppermint Bark at my daugher-in-law's mother's house one Christmas morning brunch. Yummy, and FAR too easy!

The classic recipe calls for

2 lbs white chocolate. (PLEASE use real white chocolate... the first ingredient in the list must be cocoa butter. If it's not...put it back on the grocery shelf.) And the so called "almond bark" that's offered looks like white chocolate, but it has a good amount of paraffin in it and leaves your mouth feeling waxy...oddly enough.
Enough Candy Canes (or red and white peppermint candies) to give you a cup if you coarsely chop them.

Obviously you can use less (or more) of everything. I had in the house, and used:

7 ounces of White chocolate
12 Oz White chocolate chips.

and three medium sized candy canes. (They were three for a dollar, that's why three.)
and...for my version... the KEY... our Midwestern Peppermint Oil (the one that I say is sweet as candy, remember?) I used ONE ml (20 drops) for this amount of chocolate.

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler if you have one, or a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. While it is melting, put the candy canes inside a HEAVY plastic bag, put that bag inside a second bag, and crush the candy with a hammer, a rolling pin, a heavy skillet...whatever striking instrument you have at hand.

Line a jelly roll pan or BIG cookie sheet with waxed paper or baking parchment.

When the white chocolate is melted, pour in the crushed peppermint, the one ml (approx 20 drops) of peppermint essential oil, stir well. Pour it onto the paper lined pan and spread it as thinly as you can.
EITHER... put the pan in the refrigerator at this point and let it sit for an hour or until hard

OR... while waiting for the white chocolate to set up, melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips with a pat of butter, and swirl bits of this over the white chocolate. Smear that around a bit to marble the dark chocolate over the white.

THEN refrigerate the pan for an hour...or put it freezer for perhaps 20 minutes. Once it's cold...break or cut into random chunks, put in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The cook gets to lick the melting pan and the spatula. Addictive. Very addictive.

Feeding a crowd?  Peppermint Popcorn Bark

This recipe came from a new friend, the blogger at Angela's Adventures.  She writes that this is incredibly fast to make, and is totally addictive.

Peppermint Popcorn Bark 

1 bag microwave popcorn, popped
5 or so candy canes, crushed. (Food processor helpful!)
12 oz Almond Bark or white chocolate.

Place popcorn in a very large bowl. Melt almond bark according to directions on the package. Stir the crushed candy canes into the melted almond bark and then pour over the popcorn. Stir until the popcorn is well coated and then pour onto wax paper and allow to harden. Once the popcorn is hard, break into pieces and enjoy or package up for gifts!

I would, of course, play with this some.  My comments above about the 'storebought' almond bark still hold, so I'd want to use some true white chocolate.  And a few drops of our Midwestern Peppermint would intensify the flavour. 

And from an old friend and client who is no longer with us:

Mint recipe - makes 75 to 100 mints depending on the size of your mold

1 1 lb. box 10X sugar (Confectioners)
2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
2 tablespoons crisco (tm)
1 teaspoon butter flavoring ( don't leave this out - I have and they are
just not the same)
2 tablespoons hot water
Peppermint eo
food coloring
Mint mold ( you can get these at most bakery supply stores - they are
thick small rubber molds )

Pour the first 3 ingredients together in a medium to large bowl.
To the hot water add a few drops of food coloring, 8 to 10 drops of Midwestern Peppermint Essential Oil - (I guess you could use spearmint, and maybe even rose) and the butter flavoring
Add to bowl and mix together with your hands until you have a very stiff dough. Press into mold\molds. 

and just a couple of weeks ago, Anita Read shared the following:

Opera Fudge

3 1/2 lbs sugar (use name brand, not store brand)
1 qt cream
1/4 heaping tsp Cream of Tartar

Put sugar and cream in a large kettle, stir until dissolved, then set on a flame. Stir until it begins to boil.

Add Cream of Tartar, then put in thermometer and stir constantly, moving the thermometer and stirring underneath to prevent sticking. Do not scrap sides of the pan.
Cook to 236 degrees.

Pour out on a marble slab moistened previously with cold water, and allow to stand until perfectly cold to the back of the hand. Cream the same as for bonbon creams, using a paddle to work it until it sets in a hard ball.

Cover with a damp cloth and let stand 30 to 40 minutes so that it will sweat enough to be taken up in the hands and worked. Don't be discouraged when starting to work the fudge, as it is very hard, but will soften up by kneading thoroughly.

Flavor with Natures Gift Peppermint Oil (Midwest USA) (about 15drops). (Don't use extract or a cheap brand of essential oil). Work into the fudge with your hands, and taste. (Add as much as you want for desired flavor.) Shape into small patties by rolling a small amount into a ball and flattening gently with your finger.

Melt dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet) and hand dip the patties in the chocolate.

For other flavors, instead of Peppermint Oil, you can add vanilla and chopped nuts, melted chocolate, chopped cherries or citron. Enjoy!
All this talk of candy has made me hungry, off to grind some candy canes and melt some white chocolate!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Favorites?

Experiencing New (to you) Essential Oils at Nature’s Gift: Any Favorites?

By Christi R. Pugh
For Nature’s Gift Inc.

We’ve introduced quite a few new essential oils, carriers, and other products this year and we would love your feedback! 

Here’s just a partial list of oils added in 2012:

Allspice, Buddha wood, Cade, Coffee, Hay Absolute, Hops CO2 Extract, Larch Needle, Ledum, Linden Blossom CO2 Extract, Red Myrtle, Mastic, Poplar Balsam, Rosa Alba (White Rose), Indonesian Sandalwood, and Zdravetz.

Granted, some we have offered in the recent and/or distant past, although it is possible you’ve never experienced some of these specimens.  I personally have been experimenting quite a bit with the Buddha Wood as well as reading research on it and believe it is an up and coming oil with many varied uses.

We also introduced the Harmony combination skincare line this year to a great response, and added Aloe Butter, as well as a variety of infused oils such as Blue Lotus, Coffee Blossom, Vanilla, and Golden Champa.  We are constantly sampling oils to from artisans and reputable producers to offer you the highest quality oils available. 

Have any new favorites?