Friday, December 23, 2011

'Tis the season for a Peppermint Post

'Tis the season to sample all things peppermint...Kate and I decided to write this one together, as we're out and about in NYC sampling the season.  We had a lot of fun taste-testing some of our holiday favorites, and found some new ones, too.  We'd love to hear what some of your favorite peppermint treats, so feel free to send us your comments. Enjoy!

Pinkberry Peppermint Frozen Yogurt I'm a big fan of Pinkberry. Pinkberry has helped me like frozen yogurt, because of its thickness and rich flavors. Normally, I think of frozen yogurt to have a sour-milk taste, but Pinkberry has changed that philosophy. I like ideas that people put forward to be original. Not an idea with a little originality on the side. I don't like the idea of frozen yogurt with the same taste, but a little hint of this-and-this to keep it interesting. If you want to reinvent something to make it better, don't just add new tidbits to keep the same idea. However, Pinkberry let me down in its Peppermint frozen yogurt. It wasn't anything special, just vanilla frozen yogurt with peppermint extract. However, I won't rag on Pinkberry all the way. I'm still a fan of Chocolate, Pomegranate, and Peanut Butter. Peppermint frozen yogurt was simply a hit and miss for Pinkberry. Better luck next time.
-Kate




Peppermint Candy Spoons from Crate and Barrell can be stirred into hot chocolate.  The beauty of this delicious concoction is that you can have as much or as little peppermint as you'd like.  Simply stir the spoon and the peppermint candy will dissolve.  And if you're impatient, you can always lick the spoon like a lollipop!


-Marcia

Peppermint Hot Chocolate If I drank coffee I would frequently buy it from Starbucks. But I don't, so I settle comfortably for hot chocolate. A little tradition of mine is sipping Peppermint Hot Chocolate from Starbucks, with plenty of whipped cream on top. There's something about hot chocolate that is less sweet and more about the spices that I really enjoy. Or it could simply be the holidays that I enjoy. Whatever the reason, Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolate warms my hands and gives me another reason to look forward to carrying on my annual tradition.
-Kate




A trio of of some of our favorite "Peppermint" Chocolates, including peppermint truffles from Godiva, peppermint bark from Williams Sonoma and Holiday Ganache Jacques Torres.  We had to sample all three, just to be sure the we liked them!  I know it's holiday season when the peppermint bark appears in the W-S stores. We usually get a tin of it early in the season, and try to drag it out for a couple of weeks. This year we also sampled the Godiva peppermint truffles -- white chocolate with red stripes on the outside, and pink peppermint-flavored cream on the inside.  The pieces are big enough to share with a friend, or eat them slowly and savor them.  The mint holiday ganache from JT was new to us this year, and frankly it was hard to walk out of the store without also buying an adorable chocolate snowman, or a Santa's boot filled with chocolate-covered cheerios, but more on that later.  The dark chocolate pieces are almost too beautiful to eat -- they're decorated with green and red holly leave and berries -- but I had to overcome my resistance and try them, and it was totally worth it!


-Marcia


Candy Cane Macarons from Bouchon Bakery I have bragged about my Bouchon macaron-making abilities for quite some time. I have brought them to eight-grade soccer parties, church events, and on one occasion when on a tour at the French Culinary institute, I was asked (somewhat degradingly) by one of the staff, "You want to be a pastry chef? That's so cute. Do you like making brownies and chocolate-chip cookies?" To which I replied, "Actually, I especially like making Vanilla-Almond macarons from the Bouchon cookbook." Her stunned, "Oh...okay, then..." reaction is a memory that I still smile at, even today.
I cannot brag about my macarons being quite as perfect as Bouchon's, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy every little bite as much as I possibly can. If you ask me, I will swear by these small pastries. Proving their magnificence yet again, the Candy Cane Macarons are phenomenal. The peppermint taste was subtle, and not as sweet as a traditional candy cane. It was incorporated into the cookie and the cream, without making the spice too overpowering. It was completely delightful, and perfect for holiday enjoyment without overdoing the "Christmas Spirit."
-Kate



Peppermint Taffy I loved to go with my Grandmother to "downtown" Salt Lake City when I was a kid.  We would eat grilled cheese sandwiches at the Woolworth counter, and stop at the shoe repair shop to watch the mechanical cobbler hammer a nail into a shoe over and over.  One of my favorite stops was the candy store -- I was mesmerized by the taffy pulling machine that almost always had cotton-candy pink taffy spinning and pulling in the window.  But the truth is I never actually liked to eat it, I just liked watching.  This year I picked up a bag of red and white striped peppermint taffy for the candy dish in my office. I ate one for nostalgia's sake -- and it was perfect.  Chewy, but not as hard as a gummy bear, sweet and sugary, with a hint of peppermint flavor.  As soon as I popped it into my mouth I could see the taffy machine, and feel my grandmother's presence.  Most of the time I'd rather have chocolate, but a piece of peppermint taffy was the perfect Christmas-time sweet.
-Marcia


Candy Cane Coal from Trader Joe's On Friday, all of the homeroom classes had separate parties. Some were crazy with lots of food, some were enjoyable. I ended up sneaking out of mine to hang out in another classroom--not that my teacher minded. After the sugar endorphins had kicked in (and there is no saying that only little kids get sugar high) my teacher, with her Long Island accent said to my class, a group of sophomores, "You all have been really naughty this year. If I were Santa, I know what I would get you all for Christmas. Coal." She reached inside a large shopping bag and began handing out to all of us Candy Cane Coal from Trader Joe's. It was a box filled with little chunks of chocolate-covered minty candy. We all had a pretty good laugh, fully understanding that she was only half serious. A Merry Christmas to you, too, Ms.
-Kate



Chocolate-Peppermint "Gingerbread Man" from Jaques Torres warrants a write-up all it's own.  Don't bite into this thinking you're getting gingerbread, this is a pure milk chocolate-lovers delight, with a sprinkling of peppermint candy for crunch and flavor.  The dilemma in our house was over how to eat it -- Kate opted for "humanely" cutting off it's head first, but his legs and arms were perfectly bite-sized, so she lost that battle.  And "oh no, not the gumdrop buttons" quote from Shrek garnered a fair bit of conversation. Luckily, there were four buttons on his belly, so we could easily divide them between Kate and Dash.  Oh, yes, the CHOCOLATE.  It definitely deserves to be in all caps -- perfectly-tempered milk chocolate that melts in your mouth, and leaves a nice minty flavor from the peppermint candies. (Note: I tweeted JT to ask what peppermint candy he had in the store for the holidays and he recommended this gingerbread man, as well as the mint ganache above. Thanks JT for the quick response!)
-Marcia

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