Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Christmas Sweets and Treats - Peppermint Creams

Peppermint is sometimes regarded as 'the world's oldest medicine', with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago. Its the oldest and most popular flavour of mint-flavoured contectionery and the English were the first country to manufacture peppermint creams as a product – the French still call Peppermint Menthe Anglaise.

Peppermint is actually a cross between the Watermint and Spearmint and grows throughout Europe. The Greeks believed mints could clear the voice and cure hiccups. In fact, mint is part of Greek mythology and according to legend - "Minthe" was originally a nymph, and beloved by Pluto. Persephone, Pluto's wife, in a fit of rage turned Minthe into a lowly plant, to be trod upon. Pluto, unable to undo the spell, was able to soften it by giving Minthe a sweet scent which would perfume the air when her leaves were stepped on - the aromatic herb Mint.

Peppermint Creams

White from one large egg
8 oz icing sugar
Peppermint essence or peppermint oil

Beat the egg white in a bowl with a fork and sieve in 6 oz of icing sugar. Mix well with a wooden spoon and slowly sieve in more icing sugar, half a tablespoon at a time until you have made a stiff paste. Shake a little icing sugar on the work surface and empty the paste onto this. Add 3-4 drops of peppermint essence or oil and gently knead it together with your fingers until you have a smooth paste. Have a taste of a small piece and if the flavour is not strong enough, add a few more drops of the peppermint.

Rub icing sugar on a rolling pin and roll the paste to quarter of an inch (0.5cm) thick. Cut out individual peppermint creams with a cutter - a round one or any other shape you have handy. Cover a plate with greaseproof paper and place the peppermint shapes on the paper. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave overnight in a cool place (but not the fridge). Store in small paper cases in an airtight tin.

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