Peppermint Mochas at Starbucks. Peppermint Blasts at Sonic. Peppermint milkshakes at Chick-Fil-A and Maggie Moo's. Peppermint Hershey's Kisses. Ghiradelli Peppermint coffee. The list is seemingly endless.
By itself, peppermint is a refreshing blast of flavor. Combine it with chocolate, and something magical happens. Pop a bite of a candy cane into your mouth along with a fresh-shelled pecan, and something equally magical, but completely different, happens.
For another fun flavor combo, cut a small X in the peel or a lemon or an orange, wiggle in a peppermint stick and suck out the juice through the candy-cane straw. (You may have to bite the ends off the peppermint stick first.)
Peppermint — one of nearly 600 varieties of mint — has been used since ancient times. The Egyptians used it as air freshener. Medicinally, it's been used to calm upset stomachs, or open up stuffy heads.
In Roman mythology, mint has its origins in a lover's triangle between Pluto, his queen and his paramour, Minthe. The queen, in a fit of jealousy, turned Minthe into a lowly plant, to be trodden underfoot. Pluto, to keep her memory alive, fixed it so that whenever the leaves of the plant were crushed, they would release the sweet-smelling essence of Minthe.
It wasn't until the 1850s, in America, that peppermint met candy cane.
The candy cane got its start as a plain, white sugar stick. According to legend, the sticks got their crook in 1670 in Germany, when a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral handed them out to keep the kids quiet during the living Nativity. He had them shaped to resemble shepherds' staffs.
Sometime after their migration to America, candy canes acquired their peppermint flavor and red stripes. The candy cane didn't really take off, though, until 1919, when a candymaker in Atlanta, Ga., named Bob McCormack figured out a way to mass-produce them. The Bob's brand remains one of the best-selling — and best-tasting — candy canes.
Peppermint Chocolate Fudge
2 cups (12-ounce package) milk chocolate chips
1 cup (6-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 /2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 /4 cup crushed hard peppermint candy
Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with waxed paper.
Melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, stir in peppermint extract.
Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with peppermint candy.
Chill 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan by lifting edges of waxed paper. Peel off paper. Cut into squares.
-- Eagle BrandChocolate Peppermint Cookies For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 /4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 /4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 /4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
For the glaze:
3 /4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 drops peppermint extract, or more to taste
3 1/ 2 teaspoons water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
In a mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating untl smooth after each. Add vanilla.
On low speed, beat in the flour mixture a little at a time. Gently mix in chocolate chips.
Drop teaspoons of batter onto cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until just cracked on top, about 8-10 minutes. Cool completely, then glaze.
For the glaze: In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, peppermint extract and water until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies. Let stand until set, about 10 minutes.
White Chocolate Mint Mousse
9 ounces white chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg white
1 /4 teaspoon peppermint extract
6 fresh mint leaves (optional)
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring gently every now and then. When it's melted, stand the bowl on a cold surface to cool down a little.
In another bowl, use a handheld mixer to whip the cream, egg white and peppermint extract together. Whip to soft peaks.
Put a big dollop of cream into the cooled chocolate and mix. Then gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cream.
Divide mixture into 6 serving dishes. Chill in the refrigerator. Before serving, garnish each with a mint leaf.
- Nigella LawsonPeppermint Bark
You can use all white chocolate, if you prefer.
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 /3 to 1 /2 cup crushed candy canes
Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil.
Melt the semi-sweet chocolate and 1 teaspoon of oil in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Immediately pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan, tilting the pan so the chocolate makes an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until set.
Melt the white chocolate and the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil, and pour the white chocolate over the dark chocolate, as above. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the white chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until set.
Remove from pan by lifting the edges of the aluminum foil. Peel off the foil, and break the bark into small, irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
York Peppermint Pattie Brownies
1 1/ 2 cups butter, melted
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
24 (1 _-inch) York Peppermint Patties (unwrapped)
Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 if using a glass pan.
Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and beat until well blended. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir into the butter-sugar mixture and blend well.
Reserve 2 cups of the batter, and spread the remainder in the pan. Arrange peppermint patties about 1 /2-inch apart in a single layer over the batter. Spread reserved batter over the patties. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until mixture begins to pull away from the sides of pan. Cool completely, and cut into 36 brownies.