Let me introduce you to the Peppermint Hot Cocoa of your dreams. It's rich, creamy, pepperminty, with just the right amount of sweetness. Plus it's dairy-free and refined sugar-free, making it just the thing to cozy up with this winter. So grab a mug and let's make some cocoa!
One of my favorite holiday traditions is bundling up the day after Thanksgiving and heading out to one of the many tree farms near our house to cut our own tree. We tromp around in the mud looking for the perfect option, and then Andrew chops it down with a little handsaw. The entire tree gets wrapped up and tied to the roof of our car, and then we head home to decorate.
Once Andrew gets the tree set up in it's stand (reciting multiple lines from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation throughout the entire process, of course), my mom usually helps to string the lights. Then we take out the carefully packed bins of ornaments from the garage and look for the perfect branch for each one.
On the way to the tree farm we usually stop for peppermint hot chocolate from a nearby coffee shop. There's just something so festive about a warm mug of pepperminty, chocolatey goodness. I'm not a huge fan of the fact that most coffee-house drinks often contain artificial ingredients, flavors, and a crazy amounts of sugar. But I go with it because, hey, it's our tradition!
It occurred to me this year that there's absolutely no reason we can't make a decadent, festive Peppermint Hot Cocoa at home. By making it at home we control the quality of ingredients, what goes in, and also what doesn't!
I wanted to create a rich, creamy sweet drink to rival the coffeehouse version, and I think the final result is really much better than the original. We're actually kind of crazy for it. Elle, especially, thinks we should be drinking the stuff daily. And while I still consider this a special treat, I'm thrilled to share this festive, warming drink with you. So grab a mug and let's cozy up with the most amazing Peppermint Hot Cocoa ever!
RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS
1| Omit the peppermint extract for a "plain" version of the hot cocoa.
2| Use dairy milk in place of the almond and coconut milk. Use whole milk if you want a rich, creamy result.
THIS RECIPE IS . . .
Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan and Paleo-Friendly
Peppermint Hot Cocoa
1½ cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
½ cup coconut milk (from a can, not light)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼-½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1. In a medium saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the milk, coconut milk, maple syrup, cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract until very well combined. Taste and add an additional ¼ teaspoon extract if you want a stronger peppermint flavor.
2. Gently heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until warmed to your desired temperature.
3. Optional: carefully pour the warm cocoa into a blender. Cover with the lid and then a kitchen towel and blend first on low and then on high until frothy.
4. Pour into mugs and enjoy.
Makes 2 cups.
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