Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Naturally Homemade Peppermint Patties

I'm getting more and more grossed out and concerned by all the those chemicals and artificial ingredients that are found in many foods these days, so my family has been trying to gradually work towards more natural options - choosing foods that have limited, recognizable ingredients. I just don't understand why we need all those artificial flavors and preservatives when there are plenty of natural ways to achieve the same effects.

I came across a couple of variations on a recipe for homemade Peppermint Patties, and since that happens to be a treat that my whole family loves, I figured I'd give it a shot! Only 4 basic ingredients! Okay, truth be told here, dark chocolate chips is one of the 4 ingredients and it technically has some ingredients of it's own, but you get the point!

  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon Pure Peppermint Extract
  • 1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  1. Measure out coconut oil into a mixing bowl. I used an organic coconut oil that was available at Super Target. Honestly, I have never bought or used coconut oil before this, but I think it is fairly easy to find. Apparently, it is solid at room temperature, and has the consistency and taste of lard. Yes, I admit, my husband and I taste tested it - which I do not recommend! Just take my word for it - you'll thank me.
  2. Add honey and peppermint extract to the mixing bowl and combine until smooth. This part got a little tricky for me as the coconut oil had some stubborn lumpiness to it. I ended up using a whisk to get it smooth, but I'm sure you could also use a mixer or even a blender to complete the process also. I, personally, continued on with just a whisk, because I'm stubborn and because I can always use a good arm workout.
  3.  At this point it will be a thinner, more liquid mixture. The easiest way I have found to portion it out is to spoon the mixture into a ziploc bag, snip the corner and pipe out whatever size/shape you prefer onto a tray or cookie sheet covered in wax paper. I have tried both larger patties and smaller, and I think I prefer the smaller ones as the are easier to work with. I also try to work quickly on this step, because the longer your warm hands squish on the mixture, the more the coconut oil warms up and will be more liquidy. If necessary, you can put in the fridge for a moment before you start - just don't leave it too long or it will get to firm to squeeze out of the bag. When finished making patties, put the tray in the freezer.
  4. While the patties are firming up in the freezer, melt the chocolate chips either in the microwave or over a double boiler. I used Nestle Dark Chocolate Chips, because they only contained ingredients that I recognized and no artificial colors/flavors. You can substitute any type of melted chocolate recipe that you prefer. I'm still working on this step and will update if I come across a better plan. I have been trying to reduce refined sugars also, so the granulated sugar in the chocolate chips isn't my ideal, but for now it works and tastes quite delicious. Baby steps, right?!
  5. Remove your tray from the freezer and dip the patties into the melted, slightly cooled chocolate, then set on a tray or plate with waxed paper. When all have been coated, put the tray of candies into the refrigerator and let the chocolate re-solidify.
  6. This is VERY important, because it's a lesson I learned the hard way. Let the patties refrigerate until fully firmed up, and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. If the patties are allowed to warm up, the coconut oil will not be as solid, and you will get an oily taste/texture when you eat them. We couldn't wait, and tasted them after only having them in the fridge for about 15 minutes, and ick! I could not get that oily taste out of my mouth! We waited several hours and gave it another try, and at that point, they were quite tasty - even better the next day, so disaster averted. Whew! Now to figure out the most natural way to make the chocolate coating...any suggestions?

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