Thank goodness the world didn’t end yesterday — I was worried I wouldn’t get to share this peppermint hot chocolate with you. But we are all here, safe and sound, so lets celebrate with some steamy hot cocoa, shall we?
Winter is always hard for me — I get chilly really easily, and long for the sun of Southern California. I have come up with various coping mechanisms over the years to get myself through the nippy winters here. Starting in late October, I spend my mornings in front of a sunlamp at my make-up table. Last year, the chill in the air got so bad, that I ended up wearing 2 pairs of leggings under my jeans. Not only did I look a little bulky, but it was a bit awkward to explain to my friends in the locker room…
One of the (less embarrassing) things that gets me through the winter is warming my hands with a big, cozy mug full of something steamy — especially when that something is this peppermint hot chocolate. This is nothing like the stuff that comes in the packet. This is an entirely different breed — like drinking smooth, melted chocolate, with the invigorating and refreshing kick of peppermint.
I absolutely love making hot chocolate the old fashioned way. Not only does it taste a million times better, but slowly stirring a big pot of chocolate over the stove is strangely therapeutic. To make this peppermint hot cocoa, I slowly melted luxuriously bitter, dark chocolate into steaming milk and enhanced it with a bit of peppermint extract. This cup of hot chocolate is rich and deeply flavorful, but also strangely light and refreshing from the peppermint. I.e. it’s light enough to top with heaping clouds of freshly whipped (peppermint!) cream, chocolate dipped marshmallows, and even some crushed peppermint bark!
I am planning on brewing up a big pot of this for my family with brunch on Christmas morning. If you are having guests over, you could even set up a “hot chocolate bar” where guests could top their steamy mugs with the topping of their choice — the possibilities are endless!
2 cups milk (use whole milk for a richer taste, but any milk will work)
5 ounces (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, (best-quality), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1. Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan.
2. Once the milk is warm, whisk in the chocolate, stirring until
melted and steaming hot. For a thick hot chocolate, cook at a very low
boil for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Be careful and keep an
eye on the mixture, as it may boil up a bit during the first moments. Add the peppermint extract.
Serve warm with the following toppings.
Peppermint Whipped Cream
*double or triple as necessary
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk
into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Place the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream.
Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Add the extracts and whip for a few more seconds. Store any unused portion
in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. When ready to use, rewhisk
for 10 to 15 seconds.
I use Paula Deen’s recipe, it is simple and lovely.
Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows
Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
Candy Canes, crushed
Melt the dark chocolate.
Have crushed candy canes set
aside in a bowl.
Skewer and dip the marshmallows into the chocolate covering the marshmallow as much as you like then before the chocolate hardens, sprinkle crushed candy canes onto
the pops. Pop into the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens.