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Despite taking center stage in the form of a candy cane, peppermint is a great seasoning year round. However, there is something truly special about the holiday season and how peppermint comes into its own. Therefore, we are giving it a spotlight this month.
There are about 30 species of mint and some say almost 500 varieties, including peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, orange mint, Spanish mint, pineapple mint, ginger mint, mackerel mint, lamb mint, horsemint, lemon mint, pennyroyal, water mint, chocolate mint, etc. It's one of the most popular seasonings the world over.
In ancient times, the Romans and Greeks appreciated mint’s refreshing scent and used it to flavor cordials, condiments and fruit compotes. They also used it in baths and bedchambers for its clean, invigorating perfume.
However, the common garden mint is spearmint, not peppermint as most people assume. Peppermint is harder to come by and does lend itself to sweet dishes. In that spirit, here are three of my favorites:
Arrange oven racks to divide oven into thirds. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with foil or silicone mats.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until peaks appear. Gradually add sugar and beat at medium speed for 5 to 6 minutes. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Sprinkle with crushed candy.
Bake 1 1/2 hours. Meringues should look dry and white. Turn off oven. Keep door ajar and let meringues cool. Loosen from foil with metal spatula. Store loosely covered in a dry place.