Friday, September 25, 2009

The Great Cream Cheese Mint-A-Thon

My grandmother and her sister were semi-famous for making cream cheese mints. They were molded into shapes and served at everyone's weddings and baby showers. My cousin Kathy mentioned that she had hit a wall when it came to the mints, so I volunteered to take over and resurrect Grandma Olive's mints. I sometimes forget that Grandma Olive was never very specific in her recipes; I have a lot of them that use "a bowlful of sugar", or instruct me to "mix until it looks done".
The recipe was short and sweet:

3 oz cream cheese

1lb box powdered sugar
food coloring

mint flavoring to taste.

Mix together roll in balls. Roll in sugar then press into molds. Tip the molds and they will fall out.
That's it...I thought "Well, least there's specific measurements on this one. It should be pretty easy". My mom also had my back; she had been in on one of these cream cheese mint making excursions for her cousin Linda, so I felt pretty confident I could handle this one.
After 3 flubbed batches, I finally figured out some tricks that made the process a lot easier:
1. 4 oz cream cheese is fine. That's half of a brick. I also added 2 tbsp of softened butter, for a little extra creaminess.
2. 1lb box of powdered sugar = 3 3/4 cups of powdered sugar. You should have more available to add to the mixture if needed.
3. These little suckers do not like food coloring. I used paste colors, (we were going for an autumn color scheme), but they still came out like pastels. Or like they were dirty.

These colors would be appropriate for my 6 yo cousin's birthday party, but not for a nice classy wedding reception. I turned to my standby water bottle and mixed in some brown color gel:

Ok, these are much better.

4. You need to roll them in lots of granulated sugar to get them to come out of the molds. I tried spraying the molds with cooking spray, I tried freezing workie. Lots of sugar. I had a star mold, a circle mold, and a rose mold. The rose mold never came out, it was too detailed. The star mold was less detailed, but I couldn't get the sharp edges I wanted. So I rolled the dough out like cookie dough and cut out stars with a small cutter. Lots of granulated sugar to prevent sticking to the table/rolling pin/cookie cutter.

5. They need to dry. 12 hours per side on wax paper, or 12 hours total on a cooling rack. The wax paper needs to be dusted with granulated sugar or they will stick. The sugar makes them a tiny bit crunchy on the outside, but still soft in the middle, which is awesome.

So here's a revised version of the recipe:

4oz cream cheese, chilled

2 tbsp butter, softened

3 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp mint extract

food coloring of choice

Mix cream cheese and butter until blended, add food coloring and mint extract. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix until dough cleans the sides of the bowl. If using molds, roll into small balls, then roll in sugar, then press into molds. Immediately tip molds and place the mints on wax paper dusted in sugar, or on cooling racks to dry. If using cutters, dust surface with sugar, then roll out dough and cut with desired cutters dipped in sugar. Dry in same manner.

Depending on size of mints, 1 batch makes approximately 150-175 mints.

I did 600 of these (give or take a few: me and the boys ate some, I dropped several on the floor, and broke a few that stuck to the cooling rack) for Stacy's wedding. I was very pleased with how they came out, and apparently the guests were as well; I had to send this recipe to my cousin to pass out.

I am so ready for another event; I want to make these using lemon extract for Easter, and I was wondering how a cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice would work...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My First Big Wedding Cake

I stressed over this cake. I cried over this cake. I lost sleep over this cake. I had to remind my self to breathe over this cake. My first big wedding cake: the next one will be easier. Right? Won't it? Say it will be easier!!!

This is 3 tiers of red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, and gumpaste accents. Serves 40? I can't ever figure servings; what I consider a serving is about 1/4 of what Mr. Wilton considers a serving. So it probably serves like 300 according to the baking industry.

I haven't heard from the bride, so I'm still a little stressed about it. I just hope it stayed intact until the cutting and pictures were over.

All in all, I think it came out well. Hopefully, it will lead to many more wedding cakes in my future.