I graduated from college right around the time that the American economic system collapsed into a steaming pile of cutbacks, job insecurity, and underemployment. My first job after college was slinging cupcakes part-time at a bakery counter in Ann Arbor. For just above minimum wage, I boxed up birthday cakes, scooped gelato, and mopped the floor. It was not glamorous (I spent an inordinate amount of time scraping stuff off of stuff). And it was not what I imagined I would do with my life. I was homesick, had no money, and came home smelling like a weird combination of marshmallows and bleach every night.
But in between helping customers, I liked to sneak back into the kitchen and try my hand at tempering chocolate, assembling and decorating cakes, and baking tender little shortbread cookies. And you know what? I loved it. Eventually I was reassigned to the kitchen (really, it was better for everyone — customer service was never my strong suit…) and I spent the better part of two years baking, decorating, tempering, creating, and learning from far more talented pastry chefs than I could ever hope to be.
I learned how to perfectly frost a cake without applying a crumb coat. I learned how to make pastry cream for beautiful fruit tarts and chocolate eclairs. I learned how to temper and work with chocolate. And eventually I went to graduate school, left the bakery, and started working in the field of student affairs, a career that I absolutely 100% love.
But before all that, I worked in a bakery and learned how to make homemade peppermint patties, which is what I’m sharing today.