Merry Christmas, y’all! The best time of the year is upon us. Everywhere you look are lovely lights, glistening ornaments, celestial music being sung and played while manger scenes emanate love, hope and peace. All of these things fill me with joy. As an adult, I want nothing for Christmas except peace. Seriously. Well, and maybe a trip… outside of the continental US. Unlike when I was a young girl. I often felt I received the short end of the stick; that my older sister Cynthia was treated better than I because she was “perfect” and I was “bad”. In school she always received better grades, Her penmanship and grammar… A+. Me? My desk constantly spilled with books hastily shoved in and random sheets of paper covered with red pencil, the focal point being a great, big “C-” or “D+” bordered by a big, red circle. Ugh. My penmanship was so God-awful my parents hired a tutor… I was in grade school. I simply didn’t care. At home, Cynthia never ate food in her bedroom or left crumb filled plates under her bed. Lordy. At no time did she have fits of anger, never slammed doors so hard bathroom mirrors broke (just sayin’) and when we traveled she was… well, she was the unrivaled, exemplary little princess. Sigh. On airplanes not only was she seated wearing BOTH gloves but they were bright-white clean. Every other word was “please” or “thank you”. I know, I know, as it should be but, jeez Louise, she never let her hair down. Dang, girl, can you please just cut up and be a little fun? So, as a child, I wanted it all but without working for it… and I was not going to be out-gifted by my perfect, goody-two-shoes older sister. Uh uh. I felt as though she ALWAYS got better gifts than I and, somehow, knowing what she was going to receive Christmas morning made me feel… actually it made me feel kind of awful but that never stopped me. Go figure. I am SO the middle child. Wink wink.
Alone in the house, raids on my parent’s closet were routine. The closer to Christmas, the more frequent the searches. I simply dragged a small ladder from the laundry room, through the house and into Mom and Dad’s closet. After that, all shelves, corners and wardrobes were fair play. I took my time and poked around. I found books and board games. French dolls and model fighter planes were unearthed as well as tea sets and the random miniature wicker furniture sets for our doll houses. Then, one day, during one of my solo invasions, I discovered a small, neatly wrapped box with Cynthia’s name written on it. It was the exact size of the smallest box from Carroll’s Jewelers, on Las Olas Boulevard. Mama had a house account and loved taking us in and allowing us to ooh and ahh at the brilliant, precious stones. Standing in my parent’s closet, I shook the little box close to my ear. I heard the metal gently clink against itself and concluded it was a gold charm bracelet. For Cynthia. I knew it. I just knew it. And I was beside myself. Outrage building inside, I could not stop shaking that little box as if the tinkling sound would, somehow, spell out its contents. Jealousy overcame me. I wanted to scream at my mother, “Mama! How could you? A charm bracelet?? What about me?” but she wasn’t home so instead I did the inconceivable, the unthinkable. I pulled the pink satin ribbon and peeled off the Scotch tape at each end of the box. As I stood on the top of the step ladder, I slowly lifted the thin layers of white tissue paper. Eyes big as dinner plates, I stared at my hand in disbelief. It was a cheap box of paper clips for Cynthia’s stocking. Paper clips. That’s all. Cynthia was a writer and enjoyed keeping her papers in order. She would have appreciated the tiny offering. I felt the red heat of shame and the serious discomfort of contrition. I was a sneak. A sly, shifty sneak and the realization made me feel dirty. Tossing the box into a corner, I gathered up the scraps of tissue and ribbon and hauled the ladder back to the laundry room. Not that I made a conscious decision; I never really thought about it but I never, ever went looking for Christmas presents again. Never. Not once. Today I merely want peace… and Christmas cheer. This treat, peppermint pie, brings cheer. Enjoy and merry Christmas!
Everything about this pie is good. It’s so cool and creamy in your mouth. And the crust… the hunky, dark chocolate cookie crust stands up well to the fresh peppermint filling and the buttery lushness of the sweetened whipped cream. The recipe calls for a 9-ounce box of chocolate wafer cookies, however, if a thick cookie crust is your jam, feel free to add more cookie crumbs and melted butter. I love a wide cookie crust just know that it does make plating the pie a bit challenging. I’m not a fan of fluffy, air-filled pies so I add a handful of crumbled short bread cookies to the filling for texture. The crumbs tend to give the filling heft and weight. Also, if you’d like to gild the lily, a bit of peppermint schnapps added to the cream when whipped will certainly take it over the top.
Ultimate Holiday Peppermint Pie
- 1 9-ounce package chocolate wafer cookies. Nabisco makes them. They’re in the cookie section of the grocery store but often difficult to find so don’t give up looking for them.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 1/4-ounce envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 cups Marshmallow Fluff
- 15 crushed soft peppermint candies + more to garnish. Publix has their own store brand and they’re called “Stripy Sweets”.
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 cup heavy cream + more to garnish (1/2-1 cup)
- 1/2 cup shortbread cookie crumbs, roughly crumbled, optional
- 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- Lightly cover a 10-inch deep dish pie pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
- In a food processor combine chocolate cookies and sugar and process until smooth.
- Add melted butter and mix well.
- Press mixture into pie pan evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Set aside.
- In a small cup combine gelatin and water. Stir well and set aside for the gelatin to completely dissolve.
- In a medium size saucepan, over medium low heat, add milk and marshmallow fluff. Stir until the mixture is smooth and the marshmallow fluff has completely melted.
- Remove from heat and stir in dissolved gelatin, peppermint candies and peppermint extract. Allow to cool completely.
- If adding shortbread cookies crumbs, stir into peppermint mixture.
- Whip cream to stiff peaks and gently fold into peppermint mixture.
- Pour into pie shell, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Prior to serving whip extra cream (I use anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup). Add confectioners sugar and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and gently stir. Dollop or pipe sweetened cream onto the top of the pie allowing a border of the pretty pink filling to show through.
- Roughly crush any additional candies and scatter over the pie.
- Serve immediately.