Buttermints

You and your junior confectioner can make delicious, eye-pleasing mints with this kid-friendly recipe. The result is a pretty gift for friends and relatives. We put our mints in a section of gift-wrap tube wrapped in decorative paper ($11 for 12 sheets of craft paper, marthastewart.com) and cellophane, then tied with string.

Hands-On Time: 2 hours
Ready In: 2 days
Yield: about 1 pound

Ingredients

    1/2 stick unsalted butter cut into slices, at room temperature
    1 pound confectioners sugar (about 4 cups)
    1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ice water
    Pinch of salt
    1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
    Green, red, blue, and yellow food coloring

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cut butter into sugar with two knives or your fingers. Add 1 tablespoon ice water, salt, and peppermint oil, and toss with a fork. Press mixture into a ball; if it seems crumbly, add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough presses together easily.
  2. Turn dough out onto a work surface and knead until it's smooth and satiny, 3 to 4 minutes. Quarter dough, then tint each quarter a different color with food coloring (use sparingly; paler colors are prettier). You also could leave a quarter white.
  3. Roll dough into 1/2-inch balls and flatten them slightly with your palm (keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap as you work so it doesn't dry out).
  4. Making the mints fancier depends on your child's age, ambition, and fine-motor skills.
  5. They need to set for 2 to 3 hours, uncovered, at room temperature. Then move them to a covered container in a cool place (where they should ripen for 2 days to improve flavor and make them easier to handle) before being eaten or packed to ship. They will keep at room temperature for 2 weeks and in the fridge for a month.

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