Monday, December 13, 2010
Rendered homebound by the latest snow storm, I decided to take the weather-imposed downtime to try out a couple of candy recipes that I've had my eye on. Last month, Kristin, the writer of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker posted recipes for both Frango Mints and Turtles. As a matter of fact, Kristin has been posting a TON of wonderful "Make Your Own" holiday gifts for the last month. If you're still looking for ideas or you just want to file some away for next year, give Frugal Antics for a Harried Homemaker a look!
Her recipe for Frango mints caught my eye because Frango mints were one of my favorite childhood candies. Only available at the nearest mall, an hour's trip from our farm (it still amuses me that it only takes 5-10 minutes to get to the mall from my current home), we'd buy a box to share on the car trip home. Around the holidays, these minty chocolate truffles were frequently found as stocking stuffers. I haven't seen Frango mints in a few years, and so after spotting this recipe I "Googled" them and got the whole history from Wikipedia. Apparently, the Frango mint has been around since 1918. In 1927, Ray Alden, who ran Frederick's in-store candy kitchen, developed the Frango mint meltaway chocolate. Alden's secret recipe used chocolate made from both African and South American cocoa beans as well as triple-distilled oil of Oregon peppermint and 40% local butter.
They were some high quality chocolates!
Here's a little more of the story...
"A few months after Marshall Field's agreed to buy-out Frederick & Nelson's and take control of the Seattle company in 1929, the Frederick & Nelson candy makers in Seattle were summoned to Chicago to introduce Frango mints to Marshall Field's to help build slumping sales during the Great Depression. Soon, the candy kitchen at Marshall Field's had produced its own Midwestern interpretation of the Frango Chocolate recipe. Although the Northwest version still uses the original Frederick & Nelson recipe, the Marshall Field's recipe has been modified a few times. This, as well as the use of different ingredients and equipment, would account for any difference in taste between the two versions."
Well, this homemade version, no doubt, modifies and simplifies the recipe again. My evaluation after making and tasting these candies is: Frango mints, these were NOT (hence, the "Mint Meltaway" title of this post). However, if you're looking for a relatively easy and delicious mint meltaway recipe, then you've come to the right place! I thought that my daughters were going to make themselves sick on all of my "screw ups" and I've had more than a few myself. The girls were circling like vultures, just waiting for one of the squares to break so that they could split(my rule) and devour the spoils of my Christmas candy making.
For those of you who are long-time Frango mint fans like me, read up on the history provided by Wikipedia. It was interesting to read about where they came from, the evolution of the recipe, the controversy surrounding this one little truffle, and where they are now (according to Wikipedia...available at Macy's).
Here's what I did:
First, for the filling, I combined the butter and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl until combined and smooth.
Then I mixed in an egg and peppermint and vanilla extract.
Beat until combined.
Then, melt a bag of chocolate chips in the microwave.
Pour the melted chocolate into the butter mixture and...
Now transfer the mixture into a buttered 8 X 8 inch pan.
Spread evenly to cover.
Then freeze for at least 30 minutes. (I refrigerated mine overnight.) Once chilled, cut into little squares or rectangles.
The filling was pretty crumbly, much to my daughters' pleasure, since they got to eat the "ugly" pieces. I still dipped the "screw ups" in the chocolate coating and then refrigerated them in a baggie for snacking.
I might suggest using a knife warmed in hot water to try to minimize the crumbling.
To coat the mints, use candy melts. I went with a dark chocolate version that I picked up at my local candy-making store. If you don't have access to a local candy-making or cake decorating supply store then you can purchase them online here: Wilton Dark Chocolate Candy Melts 12 Oz.
Gently brush any filling crumbles away before dipping in the coating so that your coating doesn't end up with lumps from those crumbles suspended in the candy coating. Using a fork or spoon, roll the filling around until completely covered with the chocolate.
I can't seem to find my candy making supplies, so I used a fork to scoop out the candies. Then I tapped the fork against the edge of my bowl so that the excess chocolate fell away from the filling. A candy fork or candy dipping tool would certainly make this step easier and less messy. I ended up using 6 forks over the course of the dipping process because the chocolate coating kept clumping together in the closely placed tines of my forks. Again, you can purchase a candy dipping set at a candy making or cake decorating store OR you can purchase this set online and save yourself the trip and the search. Just click on this link: Wilton Candy Dipping Set
Set the coated meltaways on waxed paper to dry. I made a design on the top of each candy by touching my fork to the top, then quickly lifting it away after placing the chocolates onto the paper.
It's hard to believe that these messy looking chocolates looked so very pretty once placed in candy papers and arranged in a gift box.
Let's go in for a close-up:
Ahhh. Mint meltaway perfection!
If you're giving these away as a gift or taking them to a party, I strongly recommend dressing them up in candy papers. Again, I found mine at the candy making store. But I found these at Amazon.com too: Wilton Green/Red Mini Glassine Paper Candy Cups, Package of 72
Oh, and package them in gift boxes! It makes them seem so "fancy"! I used single layer, 1/2 lb. white candy boxes. If you're giving these as teacher gifts, your kiddos can decorate/embellish the boxes however they choose for a personalized touch. Decorating the boxes was a perfect "boredom busting" craft project on snowy afternoon with the kiddos stuck inside! I had fun decorating a few myself too. I used some shiny, elasticized string to bind the boxes before transferring them to our fridge. Here are some Christmas-y boxes that I found on Amazon.com: Wilton set of 3 1/2 Pound Candy Boxes, just in case you can't find them at a store close to you.
Now for the recipe, as found on Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker:
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cap mint extract
1 12 ounce package chocolate chips
Dipping Chocolate (like those discs Wilton sells...or better quality if you can find it)
In a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg, vanilla and mint and beat again. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or a double boiler and add to the sugar mixture. Spread in a buttered 8X8 pan and cool in the freezer for 30 minutes. While the fudge is cooling, melt the dipping chocolate according to package directions. Cut the fudge into 1X.5 inch rectangles and dip in the melted dipping chocolate. You must refrigerate these because of the raw egg.
*Notes: I suppose that the size of a capful of peppermint extract varies from brand to brand. The cap that I used probably measured around a teaspoon...maybe more. My recommendation: taste the mixture after the addition of the melted chocolate and THEN determine if you prefer to add more mint. You can always add more, but it's difficult to deal with a product that is too minty once the extract has been stirred in.
* While this recipe was not complicated, making candy is messy and time consuming... just a head's up. : )
* In my opinion, these ARE worth the time. YUMMY!
Tomorrow's featured recipe: TURTLES! Please stay tuned....