Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chile Lights & Peppermint Dust

I avoid stores with Christmas decorations as much as possible, anytime before Thanksgiving. But my holiday celebration has begun the next day, for decades, when I 'install' every decoration I own except for the tree ornaments; because we still buy a live tree that happens a little later. Family members and longtime friends know that one of my favorite decorations is the chile lights that always line the entryway between our front hall and living room.

Peppermint - anything - also represents the holiday season to me, maybe because we often ate peppermint ice cream at Christmas in my childhood home. We do the same in our own home, but I've also begun to incorporate peppermint candy 'dust' in multiple desserts.

To make the dust, grab some ear plugs, pour several cups of hard peppermint candy into your food processor and crank it up. The deafening racket only lasts for a couple of minutes before this wondrous machine creates handfuls of sweet pink dust. Last year I found some peppermint ice cream languishing in our refrigerator after Christmas and created Peppermint Pie with Sugar Cookie Crust - Peppermint dust decorated the top.

This year, I dressed up some brownies with the dust, by adding it to chocolate buttercream icing, and then sprinkling more on top. After that I added dust to fudge that I made with leftover chocolate from the brownie icing. Not only does peppermint flavor infuse both desserts, but the dust also adds subtle crunchiness in every bite.

The only problem is that now I've used up all of the peppermints from my holiday candy dish. Fortunately, there's plenty of time to buy more.  :)

What are your favorite peppermint treats?

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