Hard, semi-crystallised sugar-and-glucose slab sweet strongly flavoured with peppermint. White, brown and chocolate-covered variants. Mint cake is currently produced in the town by three firms, Romney's, Wilson's and Quiggin's.
It seems to have begun with Joseph Wiper at Ferney Green in Kendal in 1869, but only achieved national fame when his nephew, Robert Wiper, supplied Kendal Mint Cakes to Shackleton's 1914 Arctic Expedition. Its durability and extraordinarily high energy content continues to make it a favourite with mountaineers and explorers, among whom it has developed a certain folklore - the Mint Cake which survives yet at Captain Scott's Antarctic base or the mystical Mint Cake vision experienced by Frank Smythe during the 1933 British Everest Expedition.
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KENDAL MINT CAKE
1lb of sugar (white or brown)
1/4 pint of milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon peppermint essence or a few drops of real peppermint oil
Put the sugar and milk in a heavy pan over a low heat and stir until dissolved.
Then bring to the boil until temperature reaches 114C on a sugar thermometer, or forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water.
Remove from the heat and beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
Return to the heat and raise temperature to 119C, or until the mixture forms a hard ball in cold water.
Remove from heat and add the peppermint flavour, stir until thick.
Pour into an oiled shallow tin, mark into squares and leave to set.
Cut when fully cooled.
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