sparkle and shimmer: more than the ring and dress in the wedding ::::
Visually, weddings are usually about the sparkle and colors, the bringing together of two into one, the uniting of families. Behind the scenes, there are months of preparation: wedding bands to choose, invitations to address, engagement parties to attend, and The Dress. There are some who expect the assembly of every friend and relative in their lives to the event. There are others who slip off to the courthouse and get it done for $30. No matter your choice of wedding, there is one really important piece: the food.
Even the inexpensive weddings I’ve attended seem to understand the fundamental, if not obligatory, need for wedding mints at the reception. Among the platters of mango shrimp, mini spinach quiches, and phyllo-wrapped asparagus, these mints are like little packages of glitter, reminiscent of a bride’s sparkling engagement ring.
One might mistaken these mints for the nubby pebbles sitting at the bottom of a cheerful, bubbling fish tank. If that fear is also yours, it is imperative that the mints be served in a stunning dish, away from any 10-gallon tanks or guppies gracing the gift table. You could also spring for a candy mold, creating cute flowers, swirls, and even seaside-themed sweets, if you want to really confuse the issue.
While I liked these mints, I didn’t love them. I would definitely add more peppermint extract for a wind-through-your-hair mintiness. The subtle mint flavor and texture of the mint was too similar to Crest toothpaste for me. (Yet I still managed to sample quite a few without difficulty.) After two days of dry time and the dainty size of each, I expected them to dry out a little more, rather than have a minimal sugar crust on the outside and still soft inside. Keeping them in the fridge actually helps, giving them a more firm bite and cool minty flavor.
Give yourself about 15 minutes of mix time, 1 hour (or more, depending on the size of your mints) of shaping, and 2 days to dry. My yield was dozens of mints (at least 200 mints total) and yours will depend on your sizing or candy mold use.
Recipe type: dessert
- 8 ounces cream cheese (1 block), cut into about 8 squares (to help with mixing)
- 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract*
- a few drops of food coloring (optional) – I used a natural food dye I made from blueberries and strawberries for a faint lavender hue (recipe follows)
- granulated sugar (for dredging)
- Special equipment: Three 8×11-inch baking trays lined with wax paper
- Using a dough hook on your mixer, mix powdered sugar, cream cheese cubes, and food coloring (if using). As you start to mix, dribble in your peppermint extract. Mixture will be very dry. Don’t fret! And don’t add water.
- Take the ball of dough out of the bowl and knead a couple of times. I rolled small balls about the size of my thumb (see photo), dredged in granulated sugar, and pressed gently to flatten on my wax paper lined baking sheets. This took a loooooong time. I actually got kind of bored, and cooking doesn’t bore me. Elect a friend or focused older child to help.
- Allow trays to dry 24 hours. Flip your mint nubs, then dry another 24 hours. I sampled numerous mid-dry mints. Each was equally minty, though the more I ate, the more lightheaded I became.Yield is dozens (depending on your sizing).
* I thought 1/4 teaspoon wasn’t enough pepperminty-ness and a little too toothpastey, but I like my mints winter-wind strong. I’d try almost double the amount of extract next time.
Food Coloring with Berries
1/4 cup mix of blueberries and strawberries
splash of water
1. Cook berries with splash of water in small saucepan until mushy. Strain, cool, and use. Use the strained pulp for a yogurt mix-in, cheesecake topper, or just eat plain.