Monday, June 18, 2012

Shabby Chic Wedding on the cheap ~ 2

In this post, I am going to show you how to make creamcheese mints.  "What is a creamcheese mint?", you might ask.  It is a little shaped bit of sugar dough that sparkles, looks pretty on a plate or cupcake, can be color-co-ordinated to your party, gives the impression that you spent just HOURS making them, gives you something in-expensive, yet pretty to serve your guests, can be flavored any way you like, & is actually edible!
(Word of warning, right off the bat ~ give yourself AT LEAST 4 DAYS to complete these ~ they are fast to make, but they DO need drying time!  If you have less time than that, be aware that they may still be semi-soft, and will need to be handled very carefully ~ lift with a butter knife blade to maintain the shape.)

All right, sounds good, doesn't it?  So what do we need to make these little hummers?  First, you will need a plastic chocolate mold.  Deeper, more complicated shapes will not be as easy to remove, so keep that in mind when you are deciding on a mold.  For my daughter's wedding, we used a simple rose, leaves, wedding bells, a simple daisy, & a bird shape.  The bird shape was a little more difficult to execute, but it did still work.  You will also need:
 a couple of cookie sheets that you can dedicate to the job for at least 4 days,
lined with wax paper,
as well as a large plastic baggie for the dough,
a large mixing bowl (you'll be kneading/gooshing it all over with your fingers, & that powdered sugar can fly),
desired food coloring (Can be liquid, powder or paste, just add a tbsp or so more pwd sugar if you have to use a lot of the liquid kind to get your color),
1/2  of a .125 fl oz (or 3.7 ml or 1 fl dram) bottle of candy flavoring,
a 2lb. bag of powdered sugar,
a pinch of salt (literally just a pinch ~ brings out the flavor better, less overwhelming sugary-ness)
one 8 oz. box of softened creamcheese,
1 TBLsp softened Butter (NOT margarine, I don't believe in plastic margarine, & besides, the consistency would be off, and later on your mints would sweat, & melt & be snasty, so just spring for the real deal ~ remember, it's always wisest to cook with real butter ~ you can never replace the real deal.  :-D )
& one small bowl with about 2 cups of granulated sugar  (for dipping mints into).

Grab your bowl, put in your softened cream cheese & butter ( I either leave it on the counter for a while or zap it in the microwave for 10 sec's), CAREFULLY dump the bag of powdered sugar ( you don't want to inhale it ~;-D) over that, put in the pinch of salt, and, if you are using paste or powdered coloring, add that now, too.  
Now for the fun part ~ knead / smooosh / & gooosh this mixture till it's a nice firm bit of dough.  Have someone else (your hands will be covered!) put the drops of liquid food coloring in ( if that's what you are using) now, plus the drops of flavoring.  For this amount of dough, I would use at least 1/2 of the dram of flavoring, perhaps even the entire bottle, if it's a more subtle flavor ( e.g.; creme de menthe, peach, vanilla).

Once you have worked in the flavoring & the coloring, your dough should be about the consistency of firm playdough.  Put it in the plastic baggie, & let it chill for about 1/2 hour.  Do you absolutely HAVE to do this?  Nah, BUT, it IS easier to manipulate & does seem to turn out nicer mints.

Once the dough has chilled, pull off little balls of dough & put them on the wax paper lined cookie sheet.  I usually do about 10 or 20 at a time.  Leave the remainder of your dough in the plastic baggie, so that it doesn't dry out.

When you pick up the little ball of dough to dip into the bowl of granulated sugar, sort of pinch a bit of it up to make a little ~handle~.  This makes it easier to get all the sides of the dough covered in that sugar.

Now press your bit of sugar-rolled dough into one of the mold designs on the corner.  That just makes it go faster & come out easier.

Be sure that you have enough dough to fit in the shape, but not so much that you are spilling out all over.  Press it in, smooshing the ~handle~ flat as well.

It should look something like this. 
Now as quickly as you smooshed the dough into the mold, just plop it out onto the cookie sheet.  You might have to tap it pretty hard, but it will come out. You'll find that more sugar is better than less, as that is what keeps the dough from sticking to the mold.

Once you have plopped them out onto the cookie sheet, let them stay there & dry for about 4 days.  Whatever you do, DON'T think that when they are dry enough you can just stack them all in a bowl, put a lid on it, & leave them till party day!!  They will get moisture back in, and you will have a lovely sugary clump of one large bowl shaped candy.  Possibly NOT the effect hoped for.  To store these after they have dried for 4 days, leave them flat, with layers of wax paper in-between, with access to plenty of air ~ in this way, they will remain dried.

In the end, you will end up with lots of lovely little dried candies that wire up little kids, make the served plate look snazzy, & can be added onto cake tops, cupcakes, put along-side nuts & chocolates for wedding fare, & generally add that little extra touch of pretty.  One recipe makes up about 80-120 little candies, & if you make too many,  these can also be put in the freezer for later use! (Once they have dried for more than a week.)

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