The Oreo crust part went off without a hitch. Then came the part where I started the chiffon filling, which involved mixing up instant pudding mix, milk, peppermint extract, red food coloring and thawed Cool Whip. I was after the pretty pink color in the picture above, and had settled on vanilla pudding – makes sense, right? I poured the vanilla pudding mix in the bowl and felt slightly unsettled at how yellow it looked. I added the milk and it still looked pretty yellow. (I don’t know what I was expecting…it’s not like I haven’t eaten vanilla pudding a million times before in my life.) But I soldiered on, reasoning that the red food coloring would pink it up.
Three drops of red food coloring later, I realized what any kindergartener could have told me. Yellow + Red = ORANGE. Not the pepperminty look I was going for. Maybe the Cool Whip and a little more red food coloring would save me. So I swirled in the Cool Whip and added a couple more drops of red food coloring, which brought me to a lovely shade of…coral? Peach? In other words, light orange.
Off I went to the supermarket to get more Cool Whip and another variation of pudding – this time, white chocolate. Hoping it would be a nice white color that would play nicely with my red food coloring. Back to my kitchen I slogged. The pudding mix was a lovely white color – hurray! But now I was seriously behind schedule, and in my haste to get the show on the road I knocked over the entire bottle of peppermint extract which was innocently minding its own business on my counter. With its top off. If you’ve never experienced the aroma of an entire bottle of peppermint extract wafting through your kitchen, just imagine living INSIDE of a candy cane. My kitchen was definitely minty-fresh. The only saving grace was that I was able to save the 1/4 teaspoon of the stuff that I needed for the recipe.
At this point I was getting 50 shades of cranky, but at least the pudding was the right color and tasted like mint. Now to swirl in the Cool Whip.
Which was supposed to be thawed. Which was not thawed, since I had used the thawed one in the orange version, and had replaced it with a new container fresh from the freezer section of the supermarket. Can anyone guess how long it takes to thaw Cool Whip? According to the container, four hours in the fridge is what it takes to thaw Cool Whip.
I fired up the laptop and Googled “how to thaw Cool Whip very fast” and the consensus was to put the whole container in a bowl of cold water for ten minutes. Which, if you ever have to thaw Cool Whip in an emergency, actually does work. So I stirred in my thawed Cool Whip and layered the chiffon into the crust, putting an extra layer of Oreo crumbs in the middle for good measure. Then I got out all my frustrations by whacking some peppermint candies into crumbs and scattering them on the top of the pie. Then I took its picture for you guys.
Very pretty, right? Then I popped it into the fridge. My friend Angie was coming for dinner that night, and what should have been a 15 minute pie had already taken way longer, including the extra round trip to the supermarket. I had other things to do.
Several hours later I opened the fridge for some entirely different reason, and those beautiful crunchy little peppermint bits you see on the top of the pie? Had almost entirely melted into charming little peppermint puddles across the top of the cake.
The whole thing actually ended up tasting just fine, and what didn’t get eaten the first day got happily, enthusiastically DEMOLISHED by home-for-Thanksgiving college kids, and I hope this whole saga doesn’t scare you off from making what really is a delicious and simple festive holiday dessert, as long as you remember the following:
1. Vanilla pudding is yellow. Yellow + red = orange. I’m as big a Clemson fan as the next girl, but not when it comes to peppermint pie. Make sure you use white chocolate pudding.
2. Cool Whip takes four hours to thaw in the fridge, or ten minutes in a bowl of cold water in a pinch.
3. Always put the cap on your peppermint extract.
4. Scatter the crushed peppermint candies on the top right before you plan to serve it.
So learn from my mistakes, and have a crisis-free, delicious time making this holiday treat! I’m going to take a nap now.