Peppermint is a quintessenial holiday flavor

There are myriad ways to enjoy this Christmas tradition in addition to candy canes and peppermint candies

If there’s a quintessential flavor for Christmas, it’s peppermint.

From candy canes to peppermint bark, there’s plenty of peppermint to go around.

But there are other ways to enjoy the fresh wintery flavor. Chopped up candy canes can become the crunch in various baked dishes, and peppermint extract can be used in place of vanilla in dishes. Just remember to use a light hand with extract, for it can overwhelm other flavors.

If you want to add a hint of mint to a cocktail, crush some candy canes and “salt” the rim of a glass with them. Use sugar water to adhere the candies.

Or, if you want a hint of mint in your hot chocolate, there are a couple ways to go that also make a lovely presentation. You can coat a spoon with melted chocolate and sprinkle it with crushed peppermint candies, or create a spoon of candy.

To do that, process peppermint candies in a food processor until they are chopped almost to a powder. Spoon the chopped candy into silicone spoon molds, then place the molds on a baking sheet and bake in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes or so. Remove the mold from the oven, fill in any gaps or spaces in the spoons and place back in the oven for five minutes. Cool the molds and candy before removing the spoons from the molds. The spoons will last several months if covered and stored at room temperature.

Another way to enjoy peppermint is to make meringue kisses. Using the whisk attachment of a mixer, beat two room temperature egg whites with 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar at high speed until foamy. Continue beating and add 1-3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar, two tablespoons at a time, until the egg whites are glossy and stand in stiff peaks. Fold in 1 cup crushed peppermint candies and spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a large fluted tip. Pipe the meringue onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake in a 225-degree oven about one hour. Turn off the oven but let the cookies dry in the oven for another hour or so, until cool and crisp.

 Following are a few peppermint recipes from

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Pancake

3 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
Peppermint baking chips or crushed candy canes, optional
Chocolate chips, optional

    In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.
    In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk together.
    Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir to combine. Add peppermint extract and stir, but don’t overmix. There should be a few lumps in the batter.
    Pour a small circle of batter onto a heated pan and cook pancakes over medium heat on a griddle or the stove. Sprinkle the peppermint pieces and chocolate chips onto pancakes while they are cooking.
    Flip pancakes when you see bubbles forming on top.
    Serve warm with melted butter, buttermilk syrup, or maple syrup and whipped cream.



Easy Christmas Peppermint Patties
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint or mint extract
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
Food coloring, gel or paste
1/2 cup sugar

    Combine butter and corn syrup in a small bowl. Stir in extract. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Stir in an additional cup of powdered sugar.
    Knead mixture until the powdered sugar is absorbed and the dough is completely smooth, adding additional powdered sugar if needed.
    Divide dough into three portions. Tint one portion red with food coloring and one green. Leave one portion white. If the dough gets sticky, knead in more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.
    Shape into 3/4-inch balls and roll in sugar. Flatten gently with a fork.
    Let candies stand, uncovered, at room temperature for one day, then store in an airtight container.
    Makes five dozen.

White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn

10 to 12 cups popped popcorn
1-1/2 cups finely crushed candy canes
8 ounces white chocolate chips or almond bark
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
Semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Sprinkle popcorn with a little salt.
    Melt white chocolate chips or almond bark, then add peppermint extract. The chocolate may get a little lumpy.
    Pour chocolate over the popcorn and stir until evenly distributed. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the popcorn and stir until mixed again.
    Pour the popcorn onto waxed paper. Melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzle over popcorn. Let harden before serving.


Snowflake Peppermint Bark

4 ounces milk or dark chocolate
4 ounces white chocolate
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies, powder removed

    In a small to medium-sized bowl place milk or dark chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil. Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power. Stir well after each 30 seconds. When melted, add 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract. Stir well.
    Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, divide chocolate among snowflake molds. Sprinkle with crushed candies. Chill at least 30 minutes, until chocolate has set.
    Repeat process with white chocolate. Remove from molds after fully hardened. Store in the fridge.


Candy Cane Rice Krispie Treats

6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
4 to 6 full size candy canes, crushed into small pieces
White chocolate candy melts

    In a double boiler, melt white chocolate.
    In a tall stockpot, melt butter, then add marshmallows and stir. While marshmallows are melting, add about half the candy cane crumbles. Add melted white chocolate and stir.
    Stir in Rice Krispies, then sprinkle in remaining crushed candy canes.
    Place mixture in a cake pan or casserole dish. Cover with parchment paper and gently press treats down into the pan.
    Cool before serving.
    Makes 12 servings.


No Bake Peppermint White Chocolate Cheesecakes

12 regular-size chocolate sandwich cookies
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
8 tablespoons powdered sugar
4 ounces white baking chocolate
10 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
Red food coloring, optional
Mini chocolate sandwich cookies, optional
White chocolate, optional
Candy canes, for decoration

    In a food processor, pulse regular-sized cookies until finely ground. With processor running slowly, pour in melted butter. Pulse until evenly coated. Pour about 2-1/2 tablespoons of the mixture into six serving cups and level. Set aside.
    Melt white chocolate according to directions listed on package, then cool until just lukewarm. Make sure chocolate remains fluid and not solid.
    In a medium mixing bowl and using an electric hand mixer, whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form, then set aside in refrigerator.
    In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Mix in remaining 5 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract. Stir in cooled white chocolate. If desired, tint half the mixture with red food coloring, then fold in whipped cream. Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe over cookie layer in cups. Chill in refrigerator two hours.
    Garnish with crushed candy canes, candy canes sticks or mini cookies just before serving.
    Makes six servings.


Peppermint White Hot Chocolate

4 cups milk
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small pieces, or white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
For toppings: Whipped cream, crushed peppermints, marshmallows

    Stir the milk and chopped white chocolate together in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer and the chocolate is melted. Do not  boil or let the chocolate burn on the bottom.  
    Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and peppermint extract.
    Serve warm, with toppings as desired.

Peppermint Patties

3-4 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3-3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 package chocolate candy coating or chocolate bark
Crushed peppermint candies for garnish

    Mix together 2 tablespoons half-and-half, coconut oil, corn syrup, peppermint extract, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Add one to two additional tablespoons half-and-half if dough it too crumbly.
    Form dough into a ball and roll into a circle about 1/4 inch thick on a silicone mat. Place in the freezer about 15 minutes, until firm.
    Use a small circle cookie cutter to cut out peppermint patties. Return to the freezer about 10 minutes.
    Gather scraps of peppermint patty dough, form a ball and repeat the freezing and cutting of patties until all of the dough has been used.
    Melt chocolate in the microwave.
    Working in batches, remove several peppermint patties at a time from the freezer coat them in chocolate. Place on a silicone mat and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. Continue with the remaining peppermint patties.
    Makes 25 to 30 patties.

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Sugar Cookie Bars

For cookie bars:
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1-1/2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
For frosting:
1/4 cup salted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Crushed candy canes

    In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together butter and sugar for three to four minutes, until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and the egg white until well combined. Add sour cream, vanilla and peppermint extract and mix until blended.
    Slowly add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Mix in chocolate chips. Grease a spatula and gently press cookie bar mixture into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15 to 17 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overcook.
    Cool completely.
    In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whip together butter, powdered sugar and half and half until fluffy. Stir in vanilla and peppermint extract. Whip together until fluffy.
    Spread onto cooled cookie bars, then sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
    Makes 18 to 24 bars.




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