As a kid, buttermints were always the indulgent pseudo dessert we got after having dinner at a semi-fancy restaurant.
And if you were really lucky, the waitress slipped you a few extra mints, probably because you were either Very Well Behaved or just Too Darn Cute for Words.
I grew up in the south, so both of these are legitimate units of measure for ranking children.
I always had to rely on my red hair and big brown eyes to score extra candy, because I most certainly never earned them. I was way too much of a brat for that. But at least my mother let me play toward my strengths, allowing me to grow my hair long, even though I fought her every day about brushing it. Because I was bratty.
Sometimes I think my parents must have been saints for even daring to bring a little monster like me out in public, but if they hadn’t, then I wouldn’t have such great memories of admiring my candy haul as we left the restaurant and walked back to our car. And whether it’s just selective memory or how it actually happened, my most vivid memories of this are from early summer, feeling the breeze of humid air as I debated whether to eat all the buttermints at once or savor them one-at-a-time style.
I always started out with one-at-a-time and ended with all-at-once.
Self-control has never been my strong suit.
Ever since then, I’ve always thought of buttermints as a springtime candy. I’m sure the bright, festive colors help with that, too – they look so festive sitting in a small bowl and surrounded by newfound greenery. But buttermints are also a bit of an elusive candy, as I typically only found them during select holiday sales or in the Cracker Barrel gift shop.
So when I found out I could actually make buttermints at home, I was so totally on board. Phoenix is also in the middle of “springsummer,” which is just a small window of time where we have fairly reasonable weather before the 100+ degree temperatures come roaring in, so I jumped at the chance to make these buttermints now while I can still sit on the back porch and enjoy them properly.
And I might even share a few with The Boyfriend.
I thought this recipe was actually pretty fun to make, too – but then, I’m always a fan of the more hands-on desserts (and any excuse to use my much-neglected pizza cutter is a win in my book). And surprisingly enough, in some ways, I think I like these homemade buttermints better than the store bought (or restaurant acquired) kind. The homemade version has a softer taste, and though the mints do become firm up enough to hold their shape, they never fully dry out, so they will literally – as my father would say – “melt in your mouth.”
What about you?
Do you have any fond memories of buttermints or any other types of candy?
Easy Homemade Buttermints
Melt-in-your-mouth buttermints that are surprisingly easy to make at home.
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- Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer + large bowl) beat chilled & diced butter on low until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, blending inbetween. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until sugar and butter are thoroughly combined. Consistency should be like grated parmesan cheese. Tip: If powdered sugar shoots out of bowl while mixing, drape and loosely hold a paper towel over the exposed area of the bowl.
- Add milk and pepperment oil, then beat until smooth. Consistency should now be like thick frosting, but not too sticky.
- If adding food coloring, divide the buttermint dough into as many bowls as colors you plan to use. Add food coloring (typically just 1-2 drops is sufficient) and knead it in with your hands. As you work through the next steps, cover any exposed dough with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out too fast.
- Prepare a flat surface by dusting it with powdered sugar, then dust your hands with more powdered sugar. Scoop out a golfball sized piece of buttermint dough and roll into a log, roughly a 1/2 inch in diameter, on the sugar dusted surface. Add additional powdered sugar as necessary to lessen any stickiness.
- Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, begin cutting pieces off the dough log that are roughly 1/2 inch in length. When candy has been cut, set in a single layer on a flat surface (such as a plate or baking sheet). Tip: To help increase drying time, place the candy on a couple layers of paper towels.
- When candies have all been cut, dust the tops with more sugar (optional). Allow candies to dry at room temperature, uncovered, for 8-12 hours. Once candies are firm, store in an airtight container, layered with wax or parchment paper, for up to 2 weeks.