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Holiday Season Excite-Mint

While it’s only natural that turkey and stuffing may be on your mind (and soon in your stomach), don’t forget that December and its nights filled with hot chocolate and reindeer are jingling just around the corner. When you are out shopping for the ultimate bargain on Black Friday, do not forget to stop at convenience and grocery stores to start stocking up on holiday treats. Whether you are decorating the house, finding stocking stuffers, or just purely getting into the holiday spirit, there is one flavor that cannot and should not ever be underrepresented: peppermint. The characteristic red and white swirl that we all associate with peppermint is so much more than just a stocking stuffer or a breath saver.  So, here are some recipes that you can use to transform the sticks, canes and mints into perfect winter desserts.

First up: Peppermint Brownies. This recipe is from Taste of Home. It is sure to give just the right minty bite to a decadent chocolate brownie.

Total Time: Prep: 15 min. Bake: 35 min.

Makes: 24 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup crushed peppermint candy, divided

Glaze:

  • 1 cup (6 ounces) Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening

Directions

  1. Line a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan with foil; grease foil and set aside. In a large bowl, beat oil and sugar until blended. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to oil mixture. Set aside 2 tablespoons peppermint candy for garnish; stir in remaining candy. Spread into prepared pan.
  2. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  3. For glaze, in a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Spread over brownies; sprinkle with reserved candy. Yield: 2 dozen.

Here are the nutritional facts for those who are still recovering from Thanksgiving and are curious as to how many calories are in one of these delectable brownies:

1 serving (1 each) equals 222 calories, 11 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 35 mg cholesterol, 128 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein.

Peppermint brownies

Source: Taste of Home

This recipe is just a suggestion; if you have a favorite recipe for brownies, by all means, toss in some crushed candy cane for a refreshing twist! Here are two additional Tasty Tufts Tips: One: if you are like my family and have piles on piles of brownie mix stored away in your cabinet, do not feel the need to make these guys from scratch! Rather, follow the instructions on the brownie box and just add in the same amount of peppermint in the aforementioned recipe! Two: if you are a crazed chocolate fan, I would recommend taking a step past brownies into the beautiful world of fudge. Here is the link for a mouth-watering peppermint fudge recipe that will be sure to satisfy that chocolate craving on a frosty winter night.

Peppermint Fudge

Second to bat: Peppermint Bark. Anything placed, dipped or smeared in chocolate is good enough for me, but this holiday spin on chocolate bark is a simple and delicious way to get into the holiday spirit.

Ingredients

  • Crushed candy canes, to yield 1 cup
  • 2 pounds white chocolate

 Directions

Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate (add peppermint flavoring at this point if desired.) Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces (like peanut brittle.)

(This recipe comes with love from Paula Deen’s kitchen to yours.)

Source: Food Network

Source: Food Network

Third to the plate (or bowl, as the case may be): Peppermint Ice-Cream. It’s never too cold for this seasonable and delectable treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candy

Directions

Special equipment needed: An ice cream maker or a KitchenAid mixer with an ice cream attachment.

  1. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Make sure the sugar and salt completely dissolve.
  2. Pour the cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium-mesh sieve on top.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Then stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
  6. One the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add peppermint extract, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting the mixture after each addition, until you reach the desired level of peppermintiness. (Different peppermint extract brands vary in strength.)
  7. Once chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Once the ice cream has been formed in the ice cream maker, it will be fairly soft. Fold in the crushed peppermint candy. Put in an airtight plastic container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving.
Source: Simply Recipes

Source: Simply Recipes

(This recipe is courtesy of Elise Bauer from Simple Recipes) Now, if you are like me, and do not have the patience to master the fine art of ice cream making, you can always go to a local ice cream parlor to procure this refreshing seasonal flavor. My Tasty Tufts tip: Buy a quart or two, bring it home, and pass it off to your family as homemade. Just as Burton Hillis said, “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” So, does it really matter who made the peppermint treat if the family is all cuddled together to share it?

Bonus: With these extraordinary peppermint recipes, you can be assured that you can eat holiday desserts without the fear of your breath smelling bad.  After all, at any moment, mistletoe may be lurking above you and that special someone.

Source: Christmas Your Way

Source: Christmas Your Way

Here are some additional peppermint recipes that are sure to increase the size of even the Grinch’s heart:

Just remember, your breath may be fresh, but you should not be, unless you want coal in your stocking. But, hey, you can always bribe Santa Claus into putting you on the “nice list” with one of these tasty peppermint desserts!

                                                                                    -Jay Sheintop

Cover photo source.

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