Peppermint is one of the flavors most closely associated with the holidays, probably because candy canes are so prevalent this time of year! Candy canes are not the most delicious thing to eat on their own – not on a regular basis, anyway, but that doesn’t stop me from buying them around the holidays. I always have more than I can hang on a tree. I prefer to crush mine up and use them as garnish for drinks like homemade Peppermint Mochas. These drinks are yet another coffee shop favorite, and are a drink that I love to indulge in on a cold evening as a treat.
Fortunately, peppermint mochas are a drink that is easily made at home. I make up a simple mocha, using either a combination of cocoa powder and sugar or whatever hot chocolate mix I have on hand, and add a small splash of both vanilla and peppermint extract to it. The vanilla takes the edge off the peppermint extract, which is very strong on its own. And since this is always a treat, I finish mine with whipped cream.
If you want to use crushed candy canes for garnish, try to start with some that are very dark red and vibrantly colored for the best effect. Otherwise, you can garnish your drink with a whole candy cane, using it as a stir stick to refresh the flavor as you sip.
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp sugar (to taste)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
4-oz hot, strong coffee
6-oz hot or steamed milk
whipped cream, for finishing
crushed peppermint candy canes, for garnish
In a large mug, whisk together cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, peppermint extract and hot coffee (or espresso) until sugar is completely dissolved. Top with hot or steamed milk and serve with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.