My sweetheart Peggy and I were sharing a box of Junior Mints® and I thought, why not make peppermint patties like the York® brand we knew as children? Back then I seem to remember a higher quality chocolate and a thicker coating. Thus, why not recreate the best of the past instead of allowing the present total profit orientation of most companies to distort the definition of great quality candy? I found various recipes for peppermint patties on the Internet and selected one and certainly modified it procedurally and in terms of some ingredients, as you will notice below, to create something that tastes like the real thing and is relatively easy to make.
Peppermint patties are very good with either milk or dark chocolate coating, or a blend of the two. I recommend buying a high quality chocolate made for dipping. If all you have available is your supermarket then pick a brand of chocolate like Lindt® to melt as the pattie coating. I make a variety of chocolate candies so I buy 11 lb. blocks of Callebaut® Belgian chocolate, which is of excellent quality, via Amazon®.
I've now made the patties and I'm reporting back with results. Bottom line: The given recipe was okay in terms of ingredients, a bit light on the chocolate and on the peppermint extract, which I have corrected in the recipe below, but absolutely useless procedurally as there are a number of requirements and pitfalls not mentioned and some inadequate tools specified. I have corrected those deficiencies, after a bit of cursing.
I used a 60:40 ratio of Callebaut® milk and dark chocolate. That is a nice mixture.
1 egg white from an extra large or jumbo egg
4 cups of sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup of light corn syrup
1 teaspoon of pure peppermint extract (I use McCormick®)
1 1/4 pounds of high quality dark and/or milk chocolate suitable for making chocolate coated candies (do not use baking chocolate or cheap chocolate chips, and do not trust candy supply stores with their phony buttons of what they improperly call chocolate)
powdered sugar for dusting your hands and the tops of the pattie balls before they are flattened, plus be sure to dust the waxed paper used on the cookie tray.
Beat the egg white until it is stiff and forms peaks using an electric mixer on medium high to high speed.
Slowly add the powdered sugar while blending on medium low to medium speed. You will probably want to use a pastry spatula once or twice during the mixing to scrape the inside of the bowl to force the mixture to the bottom of the bowl.
Add the corn syrup and the peppermint extract, mixing until everything is well blended, again using the spatula as necessary, then knead the mixture until it has a smooth dough consistency. Note: This is a very stiff mixture so you must do the last part by hand kneading. You may want to dust your hands first with powdered sugar.
Dust the palms of your hands and fingers with powdered sugar. Form balls of candy about 1" in diameter by hand, placing them spaced 3" apart on a sheet of powdered sugar dusted waxed paper on a cookie tray. You may need a second cookie tray with powdered sugar dusted waxed paper to assure that you can process all of the kneaded candy.
So why would we have to dust waxed paper with powdered sugar? It turns out that without it the patties, before they are chocolate coated, will stick tightly to the waxed paper after freezing. You don't want that to happen.
Press each ball flat with the bottom of a glass tumbler to a thickness of 1/4". You may want to dust the balls of candy lightly with powdered sugar first so they don't stick to the bottom of the glass. Put the cookie tray(s) into the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Okay. Now, while the candy is in the freezer, it is time to prepare the chocolate. Depending on the shape and thickness of the chocolate you plan to use the preparation can vary from very easy to somewhat more difficult. The point is that you want small pieces of chocolate in the plastic bowl referenced below, as that will facilitate easy melting. As I use chocolate in block form that is over 1" thick I have to use a heavy wooden cutting board and a very large, heavy butcher knife, to cut/shave sections of chocolate from the block. You will likely only cut or break your chocolate from chocolate bars easily into small pieces.
Reserve about 20 percent of the chocolate pieces, the shaved or grated or very small pieces for later use to temper the chocolate. Why? Melting the chocolate typically causes it to lose the temper it had as purchased because quick melting raises the temperature above 108 degrees F and causes complete loss of crystal formation associated with well tempered chocolate.
The subsequent addition of half of the the reserved pieces when the melted chocolate has cooled to around 106 degrees F will seed the chocolate with properly oriented crystals and as the mixture is stirred the temperature will drop to 98 degrees F or less because of the heat taken from the 106 degrees chocolate required to melt the added chocolate. The chocolate, while still melted, has been partially tempered, as evidenced by a notable thickening of it during stirring to finally melt the last of the added chocolate. The final part of the tempering is to add the other half of the reserved chocolate and continue stirring, which will cool the chocolate to below 94 degrees F and in the process complete the tempering.
Thus, the final temperature of the melted chocolate will be below the melting temperature that caused it to lose temper, yet it will be high enough to provide suitable melted chocolate for dipping. The implication is that dipping should be done fairly quickly so that the melted chocolate does not thicken and set during dipping, else the candy will have too thick a coating and also be unattractive. Some candy makers use a hair dryer to periodically warm tempered chocolate during dipping to avoid having it chill too much.
Okay ... enough talk. Let's do it!
Melt the 80 percent of the dark/milk chocolate in a plastic bowl made for use in a microwave oven. The bowl I use is made of polypropylene, and as the temperature will never exceed 110 degrees F there is no need to worry about solvents or other chemicals being released from the bowl into the food during microwaving.
Microwave the chocolate on the high heat setting for 1 minute. Stir. Then continue melting for an additional 15 seconds. Stir well to even the temperature throughout the bowl and to promote additional melting.
If it is necessary to melt the chocolate further, then microwave it for 5 seconds longer and stir well. Check the temperature with an instant or quick read thermometer. Aim for a temperature of 108 degrees F. Do not exceed 110 degrees F. If the temperature is below 108 degrees F then microwave the chocolate for an additional 5 seconds and stir well and again check the temperature. You want to complete the melting and stirring of this portion of the chocolate such that the final temperature is close to but not higher than 108 degrees F.
Now stir in half of the the reserved chocolate and stir well until it is melted. You may notice the chocolate thickening as evidence of it being tempered while it cools. When the temperature drops to 98 degrees F then add the remaining reserved chocolate and stir until it is melted. If you cannot get all of the added chocolate to melt you may microwave the mixture for no more than five seconds and then continue stirring to complete the melting of the added chocolate. Note that at this stage you do not want the temperature to exceed 94 degrees F or you risk losing temper.
The chocolate is suitable for dipping in the temperature range of roughly 85 degrees F to 92 degrees F, and the longer it is held within that temperature range the better the temper will be of the final candy. Thus, you can beneficially let your chocolate cool to below 90 degrees F before you start coating the patties.
Now we'll proceed to chocolate coat the patties. First, take no more than two patties at a time from the freezer as you want the patties to remain frozen until after you have coated them with the melted chocolate and placed them on new sheets of waxed paper on additional cookie trays. Why? At room temperature the patties are too soft to hold a shape during dipping. Second, the easiest way to coat the patties and remove them from the melted chocolate is to have the melted chocolate in a wide, shallow bowl. If the bowl you used to heat the chocolate isn't wide and shallow then transfer the melted chocolate to one that is wide and shallow and pre-warmed to keep the chocolate at the right temperature.
Place each pattie individually into the melted chocolate and coat it completely by using 2 wide meat forks to flip it over to coat the second side. Use the forks underneath the coated pattie to lift it from the melted chocolate. Let the forks drip off excess chocolate for about five seconds and then place the pattie on the new waxed papered cookie tray(s).
Once you have chocolate coated all of the patties then put the cookie trays with the coated patties into the freezer. Keep them there for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate coating is firm/hard.
Wrap each pattie with plastic wrap and store the patties in a plastic container with a tight lid. Store the container in a cool dark place.
Eat the patties within one week. Alternatively, you can keep them refrigerated for up to three weeks.