For my fifth birthday, my Auntie gave me a Peter Rabbit cookery book which I still have and recently revisited to create a home made Christmas present. Peppermint creams are so easy to make, and that in part is why I made them obsessively when I was a kid. Following the recipe below, you’ll see you need barely any ingredients – bar one… and I’m pretty sure that was the other key to my fixation – so much sugar!
When I was growing up in Rotorua, New Zealand, we had a walk-in pantry in our kitchen. I distinctly recall sneaking into the pantry with a teaspoon, closing the door behind me and reaching for the icing sugar. Teaspoon into the bag, sweet sugar heaped and stuck straight in my mouth. I would stand for ages and just slowly eat myself a great sticky heap of icing sugar in the dark of the pantry. Bad, bad habit to get into! So, peppermint creams made my day and I made them all of the time.
Every recipe in the Peter Rabbit book is associated with a Beatrix Potter character and is aimed at the small hands of tiny, tiny cooks. For example, Jeremy Fisher’s butterfly sandwiches is a cream cheese and gherkin sandwich cut into the shape of a butterfly and Jane Doll Cook’s golden jelly is a packet jelly with cream on top. Simple but still exciting when you are little and into kitchens and cooking.
Pig-Wig’s conversation peppermints were great when I was starting to explore baking, and all these years later were really fun to make for Christmas. I even got creative and melted dark chocolate, dipped them, splatted them and generally smothered it across the finished article. Nestled in tissue paper and a pretty box and I had myself a seriously sweet, beautiful little gift.
Want to give it a go? It’s a great one to make with kids as it involves precisely no baking and lets you and them unleash your creative spirit with the chocolate. Have fun!
Ingredients (makes about 50 mints)
- 250 grams (10 oz) icing sugar
- 1 egg white
- Peppermint essence
- 1 block of dark chocolate
Whisk the egg white until it begins to stiffen.
Slowly add sieved icing sugar to the egg white a table spoon at a time and mix until it turns into a paste. Add 6 drops of peppermint essence just as you add the last of the icing sugar. Keep adding the sugar until the mixture is no longer sticky and knead it into a soft ball.
Wash and dry your hands.
Sprinkle icing sugar on a pastry board, plate or a cake rack ready to let the creams set. Take a pinch of the mixture and roll it in your hands into a small ball. Flatten it out with your fingers and place on the surface, repeat until you have a whole bunch of peppermint creams.
Ideally you can leave the sweets in the fridge overnight, or until they are crisp and set firmly. Once they are set, take your chocolate and melt it in a cup or bowl over a boiling pan of water (yea, this bit is probably not in Peter Rabbit’s book – ask a grown up to help you with this bit kids!). Once your chocolate is melted take out your set peppermint creams and either dip them individually or use a fork to flick the hot chocolate across the rack of sweets.
Return the rack to the fridge and wait for the chocolate to be set before transferring to a box (if you’re making a gift), alternatively just pour yourself a cuppa and take a bite of pure sweet, minty perfection. I loved them when I was 5, I love them now. Even thought I know fine that they are very, very bad habit to get back into