Growing up in Chicago, we had lots of iconic food and desserts. But, one of the most well known in my house, and many others in the Chicago area, was Fannie May Candies. This was the chocolate shop we frequented on special occasions. We were always greeted by sweet old ladies dressed in all white with red aprons, hairnets, and gloved hands, lovingly asking us as we walked down the line which candies we wanted from the counter as if they made them themselves. They would grab them and place them in their signature white box and tie it with a gold ribbon. While going to the actual candy shop was rare, we were always guaranteed to have Fannie May on Christmas. Besides the usual stocking stuffers that we all received with our personal favorite candies, my mom always had a small platter of Mint Meltaways that we had for dessert. It was our Christmas candy every year.
When the iconic Fannie May filed for Chapter 11 and decided to close it's doors in 2004, my mom went to every location within driving distance and purchased boxes of Mint Meltaways (among other things) and stashed them in the freezer so our tradition wouldn't have to stop. If you want the full story, the Chicago Tribune had a great article, find it here. As the article said, Fannie May was a part of every Chicago natives Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and more. Yes, it was just candy, but it also wasn't just candy. Upon the announcement of closing there was uproar in the entire Midwest, and people were lined up outside any Fannie May they could get to, and even going to multiple locations (such as my mom), and I believe someone took notice. Because a few months later, Fannie May was acquired. While they didn't reopen every single store, they did reopen some iconic stores and there was comfort in knowing that you could still order whatever you wanted online. I am positive my mom still had Mint Meltawways frozen in our freezer at this time as well, so no real harm was actually done besides the frantic panic.
All of this just for candy? Yes, it's because other candies are not the same, and no one compared to Fannie May. When I moved to California I scoffed at See's Candies after trying them once, and then never again. I would rather order a box and have it shipped halfway across the country and know that every candy was worth the trek. Thankfully I can still do that, and for years I did. I ordered my beloved Dark Chocolate Vanilla Buttercreams, Mint Meltaways, Trinidads, and the Pink Peppermint Ice (that they no longer make). But, even though I will always be a fan and Fannie May will hold a special place in my heart, the ingredients in their candies are not part of my lifestyle anymore.
So, I thought I would try my hand at making one of the most iconic desserts from my childhood, and the Christmas candy that made Christmas... well Christmas. I have developed a recipe for Mint Meltaways, and I will say that this one rivals Fannie May and it's made with entirely organic ingredients! If you've never had a Mint Meltaway - it is a mint chocolate center and they are either coated in milk chocolate or in a pastel green coating. Growing up, they also had pastel pink and pastel yellow coatings, but they don't make those colors anymore. But I always preferred the pastel green ones anyways, I don't know why as they all taste the same. They are a simple treat, but simply say Christmas to me. Find the recipe below for my favorite Christmas candy, organic Mint Meltaways, and maybe you'll create a new tradition in your family.
Makes 35 candies
113 grams (1/2 cup) organic cane sugar
1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
212 grams (1 1/2 cups) organic powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 stick (57 grams) organic salted butter
28 grams (1/3 cup) Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon organic peppermint flavor (like Frontier Co-Op)
567 grams (20 ounces) white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ColorKitchen Yellow Food Dye
1/4 teaspoon ColorKitchen Blue Food Dye
In a medium pot, add the cane sugar and heavy whipping cream. Cook over high heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn heat down to low and simmer while stirring with a high heat spatula until it has reduced by about half. What you are doing here is making your own sweetened condensed milk. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or until hardened completely.
Remove from fridge and add into a stand mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar, butter, cocoa, and peppermint flavor and whip on high until light and fluffy. Put back in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes or until you can roll the mixture with your hands and it’s not too sticky.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and roll the mixture into balls, place in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to harden a little bit. Remove from freezer and form them into the iconic square, by squishing each side together. Place them back on the parchment paper and place the cookie sheets in the freezer until the squares are very firm, at least 1 hour.
In a double boiler, add 80% of the white chocolate. Melt until it reaches 100°F on a chocolate thermometer, remove from heat and add in the remaining 20%. Stir vigorously until it is completely combined. Add the yellow and blue food dye and stir to combine completely.
Remove the sheets from the freezer and using a fork, so the excess chocolate can drip off the candy, dip each square into the melted chocolate. Place back on the parchment paper and back into the freezer. Allow the chocolate to come down to 89°F before the second coating.
Remove and dip again. Once all the squares have been coated in chocolate, transfer back to the freezer. Let sit again for about 5 minutes to harden, remove and drizzle the excess chocolate on top for a pretty finish.
Store in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze them like all crazy candy ladies do.
High Altitude – Follow the recipe as noted.