Looking at those colors, you might think Willy Wonka got loose in my kitchen. (Remember that trip through the tunnel and its psychedelic colors?) My first attempt at homemade butter mints taught me gel food color added to a mixture of confectioners’ sugar, butter and cream will darken as the mints dry. Whoops.
I love biting into a slightly crisp, puffy butter mint at the end of a restaurant meal. Sadly, receiving a mint along with the check or finding a dish of candy on the edge of the hostess stand seems to be a thing of the past at most places. Since I have not been able to get a butter mint at a restaurant recently, I was left to make my own.
I used a recipe from Brittles, Barks, and Bonbons by Charity Ferreira. Charity writes, “If your only experience with butter mints has been those little rock-hard pastel pillows at bridal showers, these delicate, creamy candies will amaze you.” I share her description here because I could not have described these mints better. The homemade butter mints are soft, creamy, and a wonderful illustration of how great fresh treats taste.
Homemade butter mints are not at all difficult to make. Just five ingredients and a bit of mixing, kneading, and rolling are required. The recipe calls for peppermint oil for flavor, but I used peppermint extract simply because I could not find peppermint oil at the few places I shopped. It is worth noting the recipe’s author cautions, “much like liquid food color is less intense than gel food color, peppermint extract will impart a less intense flavor than peppermint oil.”
I used 1/8 teaspoon of peppermint extract and would describe the mints at the low range of minty. I find it easy to quickly go overboard when using peppermint extract, so I added just an extra drop or two at a time to find the best mint flavor. Unlike the colors, I did not find the peppermint taste intensified over time.
I was very uncertain in my ability to create stripes in my butter mints as instructed. How on earth was a messy ball of color going to turn into stripes? But lo and behold, it did. One of my mint dough balls and mint dough ropes is pictured above so you have an idea of what to expect. I used pink and green, then less pink and green, then blue, then solid yellow for my colors. The striped blue butter mints were my favorites, and in the future I will likely add just one color to each piece of mint dough.
The mint dough is very firm after it is mixed, but it softens and loses its stickiness as it is kneaded. I would stress the instruction to work in small, divided batches to help keep the ropes rolled to a uniform size. I would also suggest wearing plastic gloves to avoid the gel food coloring staining your hands, and keep in mind you will need to change gloves and wipe down your workstation between colors to avoid color contamination.
Though butter mints bring to mind baby and bridal showers more so than the winter holidays, I wanted to share this post as fun project idea or a gift from the kitchen suggestion during the holiday season. I’m a bit embarrassed by how imperfect my mints look, but like lumps in the mashed potatoes, I suppose that’s how you know they are really homemade. It is my hope (delusion?) that showing you these “not as I had hoped” first round mints present a realistic view of what to expect and will inspire you to make even better butter mints. Happy Mint Making!
- 4¼ to 4½ cups confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- ⅛ teaspoon peppermint oil
- gel food coloring
- Beat together the confectioners' sugar, butter, cream and peppermint oil until blended.
- When the mixture becomes too stiff for the mixer, knead on a lightly (confectioners') sugared surface until the mixture is soft and smooth but not sticky.
- Divide the mixture into eight pieces.
- Cover all but one piece with plastic wrap to avoid drying.
- Add a few spots of color to different spots and work until color is distributed in uneven streaks.
- Roll the piece into a rope about 10 inches long and ¼ inch thick.
- Cut the rope into small squares, about ¼ inch.
- Place the mints on sheet of wax paper and cover with another sheet of wax paper.
- Let stand 8 hours until dry.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container up to one week.