Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Making mints, not quite like the masters, in March March 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:01 PM
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IT WAS TEMPTING, mighty tempting, to pinch off a snippet of dough and roll it between my palms into the shape of a skinny squiggly snake.

But…, instead, I had to, like the others, abide by the rules and turn out molded hearts and roses, butterflies and shells, doves and rabbits…

It is what our aunts and mother, experts in the art of mint-making, would expect. For decades, these women have crafted homemade mints from cream cheese and powdered sugar for special family occasions like graduations, confirmations, weddings, bridal and baby showers, and birthdays.

A new generation of mint-makers crafted mints Saturday afternoon on my sister Lanae's deck. I took a break (that's my empty chair in the front) to photograph the event. Can you believe this is March in Minnesota?

Saturday afternoon nine family members—none of whom were my aunts or my mother—gathered at my sister Lanae’s Waseca home to carry on the tradition of mint-making. Just to be clear, this was a one-time deal since we were preparing the mints for my mom’s upcoming 80th birthday party. We figured she shouldn’t have to make mints for her own party.

We just hope the professional mint-makers aren’t too harsh in judging our mints because, well, quality control ranked below the fun factor during our mint-making session.

For example, my oldest niece claimed that some of the roses I molded resembled snowflakes. But the teacher in her, not wanting to criticize too much, said how nice that snowflakes are each unique. Uh, huh. Even I understood that remark. She wasn’t exactly awarding a star for superior mint-making.

My 10-year-old niece, the youngest of the mint-makers, pushes the powdered sugar/cream cheese dough into a mold. She's mixing colors. Don't you love her nail polish?

Expressing ourselves with multi-colored mints which will now need to air-dry for about five days.

Even the guys, AKA my husband on the left, and my middle brother, made mints.

I suppose you could say we weren’t stellar students. We did not follow the masters’ examples precisely, choosing to exercise our artistic freedom by molding multi-colored mints. “What will the aunts say?” we asked each other, barely masking our laughter.

At one point, someone suggested dipping a mint in salt, rather than sugar, just to shake things up a bit with the experienced mint-makers. But we decided not to rattle the masters too much.

If you’re among those attending my mom’s birthday party open house, enjoy the mints. And remember, these were not made by the master mint-makers.

Do you spot any snowflakes among these roses? I didn't think so.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “Making mints, not quite like the masters, in March”

  1. Amy Says:

    Beautiful! I am working on mastering this art. What stands in my way is finding mint molds……I have looked high and low and can only find candy molds, that to my demise do NOT successfully work for this! Do you have any suggestions for me?!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Well, we could have used your expertise on Saturday. I will check with my sister and see if she knows where the master mint-makers found their molds.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      My sister says to look online for molds. I’ll ask my aunt the next time I see her.

  2. Jackie Says:

    I Love your blog…glad I ran across it 🙂

  3. hotlyspiced Says:

    I have never heard of making your own mints and didn’t know you could. I love the rainbow of colours and how pretty they all look. I hope your mother has a wonderful 80th birthday and really enjoys her celebration. And yes, I can’t believe you’re outside in March. I would have expected a lot of snow on the ground for sure. xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The mints are really quite simple to make, although my sister Lanae and my mom tell me the mixing up of the dough is the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of the entire process. We are looking forward to celebrating my mom’s life at her 80th birthday party. You can expect a post about that.

  4. Dawn Tietz Says:

    This is from another of the mint makers in the family! We find the mint molds at stores like “Duebers” out here in rural Minnesota. They can also be found sometimes at craft stores like “Hobby Lobby.”

    We have had many wonderful times making mints. I am fortunate enough to live close to the mint masters and get to join them quite often for their mint-making parties. I hope to carry on the tradition for years to come. I am thinking I will end up with all of the supplies some day.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for the tips on where to buy mint molds. Also, it is good to hear that you have been apprenticing with the master mint-makers. It is a wonderful tradition.

  5. Allan Landman Says:

    These mint thingys are the only good things on a wedding buffet. I can almost taste them from the photos.

  6. Lanae Says:

    Just in case you want to make the mints–one batch makes @200
    8 ounces cream cheese–room temp
    1 tsp imatation butter flavoring (no real butter)
    1/2 tsp peppermint
    powdered sugar-1-2 bags
    paste type of food coloring (comes in little plastic jars)

    Mix cream cheese, imatation butter, peppermint. Start adding powdered sugar, keep stirring, when it is still a bit tacky divide into smaller bowls so you can add coloring to them. After adding the coloring keep adding powdered sugar. When it gets to hard to stir with a spoon, remove from bowl and start neading on counter all the while adding more powdered sugar, when it feels like playdough it is done.
    Take your mold- press some of the dough into it to coat the mold, remove dough.
    Dip mould into a sugar (crystal sugar) and press dough into mold, remove extra dough–should be flat on bottom, pop out mint. Line up on wax paper on a cookie sheet.
    Let dry for 5 days, place in a box with layers of wax paper in between
    Also mix the mints up when putting in the box so you don’t have to dig to the bottom for all the colors when putting out on your plate.
    My daughter Tara and I made 2 batches before everyone arrived. It took us 1 1/2 hours to mix them. We put them into small baggies. When everyone else arrived we were ready to do the fun part. We made 437 from 2 batches plus the ones that were eaten.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for sharing the recipe, Lanae. Even I didn’t know all the ingredients. So…, you counted the mints after all to file a report with the master mint-makers. Excellent.

  7. Allan Landman Says:

    That batch would never make 200, as I would be eating them as fast as I could form them, heck, I wouldn’t even form them, I would eat the batch from the bowl. Bet you would never guess how much I like these things. If you ever need a taste tester, I volunteer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I love those mints. Have never made them, though.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      It seems everyone loves those mints. I come from a very large extended family, so suffice to say that the master mint-makers have made thousands of mints for celebrations. If you look closely at the photos of the guys making mints, you will notice white rabbit mints on the cookie sheet. The white rabbit is the mascot for my mom’s alma mater (also mine), Wabasso High School. Wabasso is a native American word meaning “white rabbit.” So every WHS grad gets white rabbit mints.

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