Friday, September 19, 2008

Peppermint Bailout


I know I'm not the only one who has recently suffered the effects of flop sweat  from following the meltdown of our economy. It occurred to me, since we’re all at the mercy of this maudlin financial burlesque  that we should band together in a grassroots effort to create a bailout of kindness and respect through baking and giving. Let’s help each other weather this emotional and fiscal trauma by sharing some ideas and knowledge. I for one have wanted to start gardening for years now.  I think what’s held me back is a fear of destroying the otherwise brilliant futures of some beautiful leafy creatures through negligence and pure stupidity. If you can share your agricultural knowledge with me (us), then you can help me bring food to my table, take a load off my wallet and lessen my carbon footprint. Yeah, I know, pretty late in the season to think about planting tender baby seedlings but I can start planning for next year.

In exchange, I’ll be your baking resource.


And with the holidays fast approaching, we’ve got to change the programming that’s directed our butts to dump hard earned savings at the corner Galleria and transform ourselves into creative, fiscally efficient elves. I think we’ve been living in a mall rat bubble for far too long.

An email from a lovely reader by the name of Shilpa inspired me. She asked for a peppermint bark recipe, a treat that immediately brings the winter holidays to mind.  And when I think of holiday treats, I think of holiday giving.  And I start salivating at the myriad ways in which to house my tasty treats for transport to their happy destinations. Personalized labels! Cute little boxes! Ribbons! I’ve spent years compiling resources for packaging. And I’d like to share some of my finds along with a few great recipes for cost effective holiday gift giving.

To start, a PEPPERMINT BARK RECIPE!

17 ounces extraordinarily good bittersweet chocolate gently melted on a double boiler (Lindt, Valrohna and Callebaut chocolates are perfect)

30 red and white peppermint hard candies, crushed to course bits.

1 simple ganache made with a teaspoon of peppermint extract.  Make sure ganache is warm

On a baking sheet covered with foil, pour you’re your melted chocolate onto the foil and using a off set spatula, spread evenly over the entire area. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the crushed peppermint candies and chill for 15 minutes.


Spread ganache in an even layer over the chilled chocolate and peppermint and sprinkle with remaining peppermint bits. Chill until firm.

Lift foil from sheetpan. You can cut the bark in into neat triangles or break into jagged pieces. Chill in an airtight container until ready to use.

Another option is to make a batch of ganache laced with a teaspoon of peppermint and chill until it’s hard enough to manipulate. Take a small cookie scoop, making neat little rounds of chocolate and (gloved hands are best for this) roll the truffle in your hands until you’ve created a perfect little ball of chocolate goodness. Roll in crushed peppermints.

Now you’ve got your bark or your peppermint truffles and you want to nestle them in non-toxic food friendly recepticals that aren’t Tupperware. So you can gift them to friends and family and receive mountains of compliments.

FOR PACKAGING AND BAKING SUPPLIES!

For general baking supplies, baking papers and candy wrappers, check out www.fantes.com.

For cookie tins, you can’t go wrong with the aptly named www.cookietins.com.

I use www.uline.com religiously. They can make simple custom labels, they have a small range of food packaging materials and they have tremendous customer service. Along with very reasonable pricing and insanely fast delivery. Go to their retail packaging and label links. But feel free to explore their vast array of shrink wrap and janitorial supplies for shits and giggles.

Check out www.overnightprints.com for custom holiday cards, holiday labels, magnets, postcards…you name it.

If you want a mind numbing selection of packaging materials, www.usbox.com will keep you surfing for hours.

And for the most adorable custom labels, and I don’t use the word adorable lightly, you must go to www.myownlabels.com. Selection is fabulous and the customer service is top notch.

Send along your ideas and resources and I’ll share them here. And be safe everyone. Take care of yourselves. But take the time to take care of the people around you as well. Everyone’s fragile at the moment and can be annealed with a simple act of kindness.