The general recipe for cream cheese mints is generations-old. Of course, as a dyed-in-the-wool “coalcracker”, my spin on them is to use teaberry for the flavoring rather than traditional peppermint.
My Mom and I were great teaberry fans and waited all year long for Heisler’s Dairy Bar in the beautiful Lewistown Valley (PA) to open for the season. We had a routine during my child-hood years; Pop would load us up in the car and we would set off traversing two-lane roads through the picturesque Schuylkill County country-side.
Once we reached our destination, it was a round of mini golf followed by a ride on the firetruck through the cool woods surrounding the Heisler’s property. Wrapping up the evening was a sweet, drippy cone of teaberry ice cream.
My Mom loved simple things. A single flower bursting forth in the little patch behind our coal region home, a handmade card created by her budding young artist-in-residence, or these beautifully simple but delicious candies.
As Mother’s Day would approach, she often found me in the kitchen working diligently on these treats for her. Always disappointed I was “caught-in-the-act”, Mom would fuss over the mints when presented to her as if she had not witnessed me making them.
If teaberry — or any other variety of mint — is not your favorite, these bite-sized candies are delicious made in a variety of flavors. Pick an extract or flavoring oil and embrace your inner creativity. Try them with orange, lemon, almond, etc. And if you love teaberry but cannot find the flavoring, wintergreen flavoring oil with a drop of spearmint makes a good substitute.
Teaberry flavoring by LorAnn is always in my pantry. (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the company, I just like their products.) Flavoring oils are typically stronger than extracts, so use accordingly. Remember to start with a small amount; you can always add more but you can’t take it out. Always use only oils marked as safe for food. As with almost any recipe that I use a flavoring in, I add just a couple drops of vanilla extract for a “little something” extra. Skip the vanilla if you choose.
You can find flavoring oils online or in the candy making section of craft stores. Cake decorating/candy making shops also carry it and often have a much wider selection than craft stores.
Gel food color is best for making these mints as it yields a pop of true color with just a dab or two and it does not add excess liquid to the candy mixture.
If, as you are mixing, your mixture is sticky, it needs more confectioners sugar. Add it 1 tablespoon at a time until you get a mixture the consistency of Play-doh. The mixture should be fairly stiff; this is important especially when you plan to mold the mints, otherwise they can lose their shape at room temperature. Instructions on molding the candy is included on the recipe card.
Store cream cheese mints in an airtight container in the refrigerator; separate layers with wax paper or parchment. Take them out when ready to serve. The candies keep for several weeks refrigerated.
To freeze them, put them into an airtight container or a plastic zip freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to one year.
Coal Region Teaberry Cream Cheese MintsCourse: Desserts, SnacksCuisine: PA Dutch, Coal Region, GeneralDifficulty: Easy
Easy, creamy, delicious old-fashioned mint candy.
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tablespoon salted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar plus additional as needed
1/4 teaspoon or to your taste LorAnn Teaberry flavor OR 1/2 to 1 teaspoon mint extract or extract of your choice OR several drops food safe flavoring oil or your choice
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gel food coloring in the shades of your choice
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until creamy and well-combined, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add 2 cups of confectioners sugar, beating on low until incorporated. Add peppermint and vanilla extract and beat in. Adjust mint flavoring if desired.
- With mixer on low, gradually beat in remaining confectioners sugar. Beat until incorporated occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Dough should be very stiff and not sticky. If still sticky, add more confectioners sugar until it becomes the consistency of Play-doh.
- Divide the dough into as many bowls as you would like colors and add a few dabs of gel food coloring to each bowl. Stir in well until color is fully incorporated.
- Roll dough into 1 inch smooth balls. Place, spaced apart, on parchment lined baking sheets. Dip the tines of a fork in confectioners sugar and gently press down on each mint to form ridges.
- Allow mints to dry at room temperature for about 8 hours. Flip them over several times during drying time. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator until ready to serve. Separate layers with a sheet of parchment paper.
- To Shape Into Molds
- These mint can be molded into a variety of shapes. To do so, roll a bit of the dough into a bal that is the appropriate size for the cavity of the candy mold you are using. Roll the ball completely in granulated sugar (not confectioners sugar) then press it firmly into a cavity in your mold. Invert the mold and pop out the shaped mint. Store as in the general directions.