Dark chocolate and peppermint is a great combination. Peppermint flavored candies, for instance, tend to have a really sharp sweetness to them that is tempered perfectly by the strong, but not too sweet, flavor of dark chocolate. A York peppermint patty, for instance, is a great illustration of how well this combination works and – for mint fans – it works in many different forms, such as coffee drinks.
This mocha is made with dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and is spiked with a bit of peppermint. I used a small amount of peppermint extract. Peppermint extract can be very strong, so add just a few drops at a time if you’re worried that the overall flavor will be too strong. The finished drink has a kick of caffeine and a kick of peppermint, and ends up being both refreshing and indulgent. Feel free to replace the coffee with milk if you want to make this for the kids on a holiday morning!
I remember when single serve coffee makers first came out. The coffee was terrible and I just couldn’t see the value in the machines when it took so little time to brew a pot of real coffee. Time passed and the coffee in those one-cup machines got better. Not only did the coffee get better, but the technology behind it improved to the point where I was very impressed by how much a Keurig machine impressed me the first time I used one.
This special edition brewer is the first Keurig I’ve had in my kitchen, and it is earning its spot on the countertop beside some of my other coffee makers. It is very fast, reliable and is especially handy when I don’t want a whole pot of coffee. The Special Edition is special for a couple of reasons, many of which I outlined in a previous review on Baking Bites. The machine has a large water reservoir and brews coffee (or tea, actually) in three sizes: 6oz, 8oz, and 10oz. I tend to stick to 8oz for most coffees. All of the Keurigs have similar coffee brewing abilities and can brew cup after cup rapidly as long as the basins are filled and will perform consistently over time. With the special edition, you are able to program water temperature and choose an Auto On/Off. The machine also has chrome accents and blue back-lit screen that Keurig says – and I would admit that I agree when I compare it with more basic models – gives the machine an “upscale” appearance. This model isn’t that much more expensive than other models, so it’s all a matter of personal preference when picking one out and I have had no complaints about the basic models (although I do like the chrome on this one) I’ve used in terms of basic functionality.
I usually make my own homemade marshmallows around the holidays, with good results. I’ve even made chocolate dipped marshmallows to mimic the ones I’ve seen sold in high end, gourmet stores. The gourmet marshmallows tend to be ridiculously overpriced for what you get – 20 for 6 marshmallows, anyone? – and even if they are tasty, it’s not worth buying them. But when I spotted Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows on my last shopping trip, I didn’t hesitate to pick them up.
These gourmet, chocolate-dipped marshmallows run only $2.99 for a box of 10 (one box I bought had 9, the other had 10), making them much more affordable than most, and perfect not only for a holiday stocking stuffer, but as a treat around the house. The marshmallows are fluffy and elastic, with a nice chew and sweetness to them. The dark chocolate layer is thin and provides a great contrast with the minty marshmallow, giving them a flavor that is reminiscent of a York peppermint patty. I liked them straight out of the box, but also popped them into some hot chocolate to see how they fared. They held up well and, while they did give my hot chocolate a hint of mintiness, I wasn’t patient enough to let the marshmallows dissolve and simply scooped up the warm mallows with a spoon and ate them after a bit.
The worst problem you can have with a tea steeper – apart from winding up with one that has overly large holes which allow tea to escape into your cup – is having a metal steeper that is prone to rusting after use. You won’t have this problem with these Steepware Tuffy Tea Steepers. These steepers are made of silicone, so they are durable, flexible and rustproof. They have a plastic frame that gives them their shape and allows them to sit on the rim of a mug, but the silicone cones of the steepers have a unique collapsible design so that they can fold up flat when not in use. This makes for easy and convenient storage – not that tea steepers typically take up a huge amount of cupboard space, but a flat kitchen gadget always fits in better than a bulbous one!