By Lisa Maliga, Copyright 2021
There is something very comforting about having a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night. When I was a child, I had two options for drinking hot chocolate: Swiss Miss packets with mini marshmallows, or the “homemade” type heated up in a saucepan with milk and a scoop of Nestle Quik powder. No sugar was added as that was the main ingredient, followed by cocoa and some anti-caking agents and preservatives. Topped with a generous swirl of Reddi Wip, it was the best hot beverage to sip while I sat on the couch and read.
The Swiss Miss hot cocoa packets might have been labeled as “rich chocolate”, yet they always contained stale mini marshmallows. Hot water was poured into my pink porcelain mug. Even if my mom mixed it for me, there were always little clumps of unmixed cocoa powder.
This year, I decided to try genuine European hot chocolate. Thick, but not quite like chocolate pudding. Unlike those packets, this delicious hot chocolate contains rich melted chocolate with a touch of cocoa powder and pure vanilla. I adore the Chocolove brand which contains 55% cacao and real peppermint oil. As always, use whatever brand you prefer and if it isn’t peppermint flavored, just add peppermint extract.
Garnishing with candy canes makes it look more festive. Peppermint Hot Chocolate is perfect for celebrating the Christmas season.
PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPE
2 ounces peppermint dark chocolate https://amzn.to/3dFqMd7
5 ounces whole milk
½ Tablespoon coconut palm sugar https://amzn.to/3rLBlnq
1 teaspoon cocoa powder, sifted https://amzn.to/3lPk4Wv
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract https://amzn.to/33fpuUr
1 mini peppermint candy cane, crushed https://amzn.to/3rOtzch
1 large peppermint candy cane for stirring https://amzn.to/3ECNGxW
8-ounce mug OR two 4-ounce mugs
Crush mini peppermint candy cane and set aside.
Chop up the peppermint chocolate.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, pour in the milk and sugar. Using a whisk, mix constantly once it heats up to a simmer.
Add the cocoa powder and the chopped chocolate. Cook for about 4 minutes, whisking constantly. If using vanilla extract and/or peppermint extract, add that just before you’re ready to pour. Put a candy cane into your mug and pour in your hot chocolate.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and top with the crushed peppermint candy cane.
SUGGESTIONS: You can also use your favorite chocolate bar and just add a dash of peppermint extract as the last step so as to retain the flavor.
By all means substitute a plant-based milk if you wish. However, it won’t be as thick as it is when made with whole milk.
I made the whipped cream by pouring 8 ounces of whipping cream into a chilled 16-ounce mason jar and shaking it for about 10 minutes. Then I stirred in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of powdered monkfruit sweetener.
Enjoy your hot chocolate and have a very Merry Christmas/Holiday Season!