Archive for: mint
The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. The Derby is of the most famous horse races in the country and it is run the first weekend in May every year. Although not everyone is a horse racing fan, some of the traditions associated with Derby Day are so much fun that it is easy to get into the spirit of things. One tradition is for ladies to dress up and wear huge, fun hats to the track. The other, of course, is to drink Mint Juleps.
A Mint Julep is a cocktail made with boubon, mint, sugar and crushed ice that has been served at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby. They’re tasty and refreshing, and the flavors in the drink translate very well to other applications – like this Mint Julep Sorbet. The sorbet, like the drink, is made with sugar, bourbon and mint. I added a little bit of heavy cream to give it an extra creamy texture and to take the edge off the bourbon. The finished sorbet is light and even more refreshing than the cocktail that inspired it, with a bright mint flavor and a hint of bourbon.
I made this sorbet in my Blendtec blender, which actually has an ice cream setting on it. The ice cream setting is just a very, very high speed and you should be able to get the same (or similar) results with other blenders, although you might end up with some fine bits of ice in some models that aren’t as powerful. You could also do the same in a food processor. The sorbet is easy to scoop right out of the blender, but putting in the freezer for a couple of hours will firm it up a bit more and take it from soft serve to scoopable.
Mojitos are one of my favorite cocktails. They are made by muddling fresh mint leaves and sugar at the bottom of a highball glass, adding ice and then topping the mint mixture with rum, lime juice and soda water. Because of the mint and the lime juice, the cocktail is very refreshing – so refreshing that I’ll even add some mint to my homemade limeade for a similar but non-alcoholic effect.
These Mojito Cookies were inspired by that flavorful cocktail. They are a rich butter cookie that is spiked with peppermint extract and lots of fresh lime zest. The cookies are slightly crisp (a few extra minutes in the oven will make then even crisper), with a very tender crumb and an almost shortbread-like mouthfeel. Fresh mint doesn’t translate particularly well to cookies, but the peppermint extract packs a lot of flavor and delivers the refreshing minty note well to the buttery dough. Lime zest also offers a strong flavor, allowing the citrus to come through along with that mint. I don’t typically add any kind of rum to these cookies, but a bit of rum extract will give them an even more authentic cocktail flavor, if you want to add a splash into your dough.
I rolled the cookies in a bit of green sanding sugar, just as you might rim a cocktail glass with sugar or salt, to give them a more finished look. Plain sugar – or some sort of coarse, natural sugar, if you have it – will work just as well as the colored stuff and will still add a subtle crunch to the cookies’ edges and give them a nice finish.
I was watching a TV series on DVD recently, and in one episode, the characters ate a heck of a lot of chocolate pudding. They are so much that it kind of put me off of it. Now, don’t get me wrong because I do like chocolate pudding – I was just glad that had already eaten the chocolate chocolate pudding that I had made earlier in the week!
This pudding is just a little bit of a twist on a simple chocolate pudding recipe that I use as a go-to recipe. The pudding is made with milk and thickened with a little bit of cornstarch, instead of eggs. This means it is less fussy than some pudding recipes – no tempering of eggs required – and has a slightly lighter texture than some very heavy puddings that load up on egg yolks. It still has a good chocolate flavor, thanks to some cocoa powder and some melted chocolate that is incorporated into it. I’ve used it before in homemade Chocolate and Vanilla Pudding Cups. In this instance, the twist I’ve given it is a twist of mint. I added Chocolate Mint Bailey’s liqueur and a little bit of peppermint extract. The pudding is as chocolaty as ever, but has a refreshing note to the finish, as well as a hint of rich Irish Creme liqueur.
If you don’t have the Mint Bailey’s, you can substitute another chocolate liqueur, regular Bailey’s Irish Cream or just swap in some extra milk. The liqueur acts like a combination of chocolate extract and mint extract, in terms of the flavor it lends to the pudding, but a bit extra mint extract will help get the pudding to just the right level if necessary.
They might look like fudgy brownies, but these Chocolate Mint Cookie Squares are actually far closer to the cookie side of the spectrum where bar cookies are concerned. They are fairly firm, with a nice chew to the center, like a thick cookie. The recipe is a play on the Caramel Oatmeal Brownies I made a while back. This time around, I added some chocolate to the oatmeal cookie crust base, incorporated mint into the brownie layer and topped the whole thing off with a layer of mint chocolate glaze.
Even though the texture is nothing like that of a Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookie, the flavor is pretty similar – which is what I was hoping for, since those cookies definitely served as the inspiration for these squares. The chocolate-mint flavor of those cookies is one of the things that makes them so popular. The richness of the chocolate is cut but the bright mint flavor, leaving you with a slightly fresh feeling in your mouth and the desire for another bite.
As I mentioned above, the squares are chewy and quite cookie-like, not moist and melt-in-your-mouth like a brownie. The filling contrasts nicely with the slightly crispy base of the bar, and the mint chocolate topping adds a lot of richness. I really like the flavor and texture that the oatmeal base provides. It’s hint of chocolate is subtle, but the nuttiness from the oats and the sweetness from the brown sugar makes these treats taste very satisfying. I would cut these into small squares to serve, as they’re almost like eating a mint chocolate cookie candy bar.
These are good the day they are made, but I think they’re even better the next day (after being stored in an airtight container) because the mint chocolate flavors blend and come out more strongly.
Everyone does cookies for Christmas. There are lots and lots of variations you can choose from – from sugar cookies to chocolate sandwich cookies to frosting-kissed butter cookies – and one batch of cookies is almost always enough to serve a big crowd. The downside to cookies is that it’s hard to stand out on a holiday dessert table with something that lies so close to the plate and might look similar to everything else on the table. This year, my bring-to-the-party holiday treats are going to be cupcakes with a holiday twist: a peppermint twist!
My Candy Cane Cupcakes were inspired both by the red and white stripes on a candy cane and the stripey zebra cake I made not too long ago. The cupcakes start with vanilla cake that is flavored with peppermint extract and layered into the cupcake pan in such a way as to create red and white stripes. The technique is identical to the one used in the zebra cake: the batter is divided and food coloring is added to one part, then alternating spoonfuls of batter are put into the muff cup and baked. The heat of the oven does the rest of the work for you and you end up with a beautiful candy cane-like cupcake.
The cupcakes are very moist and keep very well. The peppermint flavor is not aggressive, although it is distinct, and it really complements the look of the cake. If you want to increase the peppermint and get and even more candy cane-like flavor, feel free to do, but I prefer these to be a little bit understated. The cupcakes aren’t very sweet on their own and, though they look really interesting plain, I think they do need frosting to make them into something special.
I opted for green frosting to make these especially Christmasy, but there is no need to color it if you prefer the look of white frosting or simply don’t want to fuss with more food coloring. The frosting is vanilla cream cheese. I didn’t add any mint to the frosting so that there would be a nice balance between it and the cake. Normally, I wouldn’t be that excited by green frosting, but on these particular cupcakes I think it looks amazing. These are sure to be showstoppers at any holiday party.