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Entries in peppermint (5)


Peppermint Marshmallows

Peppermint Marshmallows

The past two weeks have been dreadfully cold, as winter fully sets in up here in the North. The air is so chilled that it seems to take one's breath away, burning down the windpipe fiercely. Everyone scurries around from place to place to do last minute shopping, bundled up from head to toe in coats and scarves and mittens until nothing but red cheeks are showing. Fashion has given way to practicality. Though the wind is fierce, the earth's thick coat of white is beautiful enough to make up for winter's ferocity, at least in part.

A few degrees of warmth might make the ice and snow a bit more tolerable.

Peppermint Marshmallows Peppermint Marshmallows Peppermint Marshmallows

With all of the below zero temperatures, I have spent my time indoors, cuddled up with a hot cup of tea and an overdone holiday movie. When I have a spare bit of time, I like to find an excuse to turn on the oven, whether making a batch of my boyfriend's favorite cookies or finding an excuse to treat my coworkers.

Last weekend, I had it in my head that I would make a batch of gourmet peppermint marshmallows for the holidays. Midway through the recipe, as the sugar was wildly boiling, I came to the unfortunate realization that my candy thermometer was broken. After trying to salvage the recipe, with the sugar certainly overcooked, I ended up throwing it entirely into the trash bin.

Peppermint Marshmallows

I have never come across a recipe for marshmallows that did not require a candy thermometer. In fact, the vanilla bean marshmallows I shared with you earlier this year is one of the few recipes where I insisted you needed one. However, suddenly candy thermometer-less and with no less of a desire to make marshmallows, I began the search for a recipe that didn't require one. And find one, I did.

With a red swirl and drizzle of dark chocolate, these Peppermint Marshmallows exceeded my expectations. While they are glorious on their own, I wholeheartedly suggest adding them to a mug of hot chocolate for a moment of divinity.

Peppermint Marshmallows

These Peppermint Marshmallows are easier to prepare and less fussy than other marshmallow recipes. The addition of extra gelatin ensures that the marshmallows will set without the worry of boiling sugar to a specific temperature (as there is with traditional marshmallows). Red food coloring is dropped on top and swirled with a toothpick before the marshmallows have a chance to set. Drizzled with dark chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes, the marshmallows are elevated so that they could be given as a holiday gift or served at a holiday party.

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Candy Cane Cupcakes

Candy Cane Cupcakes

It is snowing outside. Big, fluffy snowflakes are falling silently from the sky, piling up on window frames and tree branches. The world is covered with white, a blanket of fleece matching the stark ivory of the cloudy sky. Snug and warm in my house, I want to wrap a blanket around my shoulders with a cup of tea in hand, gazing at the postcard outside my window in the soft light of morning. Even though I live in a cold climate, where winter seems to compose half of the year's weather, it is moments like this that make the ice and the cold worth all of those chilled months.

I cannot imagine a winter without snow.

Candy Cane Cupcakes Candy Cane Cupcakes

The appearance of candy canes usually marks the beginning of winter for me. The occasional seasonal snow that comes and goes has finally settled in for a long visit and the time has come to bundle up with winter scarves and over-sized mittens. Candy canes were an intrinsic part of the holiday culture of my childhood. Candy canes weaved themselves into classrooms and daycare, sneaking into craft corners and making an appearance as ornaments on the tree. Even when I was small, I loved the idea of candy canes, enjoying the way the colored stripes twirled themselves up the length of the candy stick. I didn't, however, enjoy the taste. Each year I made it my mission to like candy canes, trying another one just to see if my tastes have changed.

Even now, years after my pursuit began, I may not have completed my mission, but I can assure you I have come so much closer.

Candy Cane Cupcakes

Though I may not enjoy a candy cane by itself, I adore it in combination with a few of my favorite treats, such as hot chocolate, ice cream, or even popcorn. After coming home for the holidays, I noticed a stash of candy canes hidden away in the candy cupboard. The timing seemed right to put them to good use. While some children may have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, I had visions of these cupcakes, with a candy striped peppermint frosting to bring in the flavors of the classic candy cane. Though the candy striped swirl may appear complex, I can assure you that the effect is quite easy to achieve.

This might be one of my favorite ways to enjoy candy canes yet.

Candy Cane Cupcakes

Candy Cane Cupcakes feature a rich peppermint buttercream on top of a chocolate cupcake. Though buttercream frosting has a tendency to get too sweet, this frosting has a good amount of salt to cut back on the sweetness. The stripes in the frosting are created with red gel food coloring to give it a genuine candy cane feel. Sprinkled with a few crushed candy canes, the cupcakes come together to create a festive holiday treat.

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

As the holiday season is winding down, our bellies are comfortably full, and the new "toys" we received are demanding a place to call their own, I can't help but feel sated with my surroundings. Christmas break comes but once a year and this time I'm taking full advantage of these short days of freedom. I've slept for what feels like the first time in months. I've taken the week off from work to do what I haven't done since this summer—take a break. My batteries need recharging, time with family and friends needs to be spent, and I have glorious plans to finish reading the book I started back in October.

I need to rediscover me again.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Yesterday I took out my camera and dusted it off from nearly a month of disuse. I feel almost ashamed to admit that I've neglected it so long. My camera and I are often inseparable during my culinary triumphs and defeats; the feel of the camera back in my hands was a welcome familiarity. With newly found time on my hands and a longing to hear the click of my camera's shutter, I took it upon myself to recreate one of my favorite winter drinks—a warm mug of Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

When the weather gets cold and frost begins to gather on the windowpanes, this is the perfect drink to bring life back into the limbs of a tired, chilled soul.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Over the last few winter seasons, I've been on a simple, yet difficult quest to find the best coffee house version of the Peppermint Hot Chocolate. However, the longer my search goes on, the less confidence I have that the rich, silky smooth version whirling and twirling through my mind truly does exist.

Throughout the sampling period, I've had more than my fair share of chalky hot chocolate (and I ask you, is there little more disappointing?). More often than not, the maker has a heavy hand when adding the peppermint flavoring (or such a light hand, the taste is more imagined than real). They are often good or just okay, but the genuinely sinful version from my daydreams has eluded me.

As I've realized this past autumn, when coffee houses fail to deliver (as in the case of the Pumpkin Spice Latte), it's time to look to my own kitchen to produce what my taste buds most desire. Using whole milk, real chocolate, and a good dose of crushed candy canes, my futile coffee house search is over.

This is the Peppermint Hot Chocolate swirling throughout our dreams.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Peppermint Hot Chocolate

This Peppermint Hot Chocolate is richly decadent. Whole milk, intense chocolate, and crushed candy canes come together to deliver a little sip of heaven to your taste buds. If you have leftover candy canes to use from the holidays, this is a perfect method to clean out the cupboards. Alternatively, peppermint extract can be used in place of the candy canes if they are not readily available. I fully recommend using whole milk for a richer, more sinful experience, but lighter milks (or almond milk) can be used in its place. Drink up, my friends. We've survived the holiday season once again.

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