Cathie Campbell

Chocolate Mint Day

Feb. 19 was National Chocolate Mint Day, and I think that’s worth celebrating, even if you are somewhat tired of sweets because of Valentine's Day.

People give and eat a lot of candy on that day. I am not all that much of a fan of the chocolate mint flavor combination, except for candies such as York Peppermint Patties and if you are old enough, you might remember those green and silver foil-wrapped small peppermint patties that many restaurants used to hand out after your meal when you went up to the counter to pay.

I don’t know if they still sell them, but years ago I saw a large plastic container of them at Costco. And I didn’t buy them, yay for me. So now I hear it’s Girl Scout cookie time again, and while I will choose a different type, you Thin Mint fans have a great opportunity to not only support a good organization but to treat yourself to something very tasty.

Chocolate mint candy

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk, divided

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 ounces white candy coating, coarsely chopped

2 to 3 teaspoons peppermint or spearmint extract

3 drops green food coloring

1. In a heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips with 1 cup milk. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Spread half into a waxed paper-lined 8-inch square pan; refrigerate about 10 minutes or until firm.

2. Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan over low heat, cook and stir candy coating with remaining milk until coating is melted and mixture is very smooth. Stir in peppermint or spearmint extract and food coloring. Spread over bottom layer; chill for about 10 minutes or until firm.

3. If the remaining chocolate mixture needs melting again, reheat gently and spread over the chilled layer of mint. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. When ready to cut, remove from the pan and cut into squares with a sharp knife. Makes about 2 pounds of candy.

Chocolate mint brownies

Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe.

Brownie base:

1 box (1 lb. 2.4 oz.) Betty Crocker Original Supreme Premium Brownie Mix

Water, vegetable oil and egg, as needed for brownie mix directions

* Filling:

2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons heavy cream

2 ounces cream cheese, softened (from a 3-oz. package)

1/8 teaspoon mint extract

1/8 teaspoon vanilla

2 to 3 drops green food coloring

* Topping:

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 1/3 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips

1/3 cup butter (do not use margarine)

1. Preheat oven to 350 (325 if you are using dark or nonstick pans). Grease bottom only on 9-inch square baking pan. Prepare and bake the brownie mix according to the package directions. Set aside and cool completely.

2. In large bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until set.

3. While the brownies are cooling, heat topping ingredients over medium-low heat in a 2-quart nonstick saucepan, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Cool about 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

4. Pour and spread topping over filling;covering evenly. Refrigerate uncovered about 2 hours or until set. Before cutting into bars, let stand 10 minutes at room temperature. For bars, cut into 5 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator. (Tip: Brownies will cut easier if you use a wet knife.)

Chocolate mint patties

1/3 cup light corn syrup

5 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/2 teaspoons mint extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

Green food coloring (start with a couple drops and add more until desired color is achieved)

4 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar

10 ounces chocolate candy coating (such as CandiQuik)

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the light corn syrup, butter, mint extract, salt and green food coloring. 2. Stir in confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, until mixture is too stiff to stir. Add more confectioners' sugar and knead mixture until it no longer sticks to your hands, adding more sugar as necessary.

3. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on waxed paper lined baking sheets. Flatten with the bottom of a glass or use the palm of your hand. Cover with waxed paper and refrigerate for 60 to 90 minutes or until firm.

4. Melt chocolate candy coating according to package directions. Dip the patties into the melted chocolate, supporting them with a fork; tap off the extra, and place back on the waxed paper. Repeat until all patties have been coated.

5. Let the patties set up until coating is firm before storing in an airtight container.

Thin mint frozen pie

1 box (8.81-oz.) dark chocolate thin mints (the candies, such as After Eight)

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1 6-oz. ready to fill chocolate crumb crust

25 large marshmallows

1/4 cup white creme de cacao

1/4 cup green creme de menthe

Whipped cream, 4 thin mints and fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

1. Reserve 4 thin mints for garnish. Put remaining thin mints in a small saucepan; add 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream. Stir over medium-low heat 1 to 2 minutes until melted and smooth. (Or microwave in a 4-cup glass measure about 1 minute.) Pour into crumb crust and place in freezer to cool until firm, about 30 minutes.

2. While the crust mixture is cooling, place marshmallows and creme de cacao in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir with a whisk 4 to 5 minutes until melted and smooth. Whisk in creme de menthe; place in freezer to cool about 10 minutes.

3. In a large, deep bowl, place remaining heavy cream and beat, using a mixer until stiff peaks form. Whisk cooled liqueur mixture to reblend, then fold into the cream until well blended. Pour over thin-mint layer. Cover and freeze at least 24 hours.

4. When you are ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream, the 4 thin mints and sprigs of mint.