12 Holiday Food Comas: Minty Hot Chocolate

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Oh, Chocolate. I love you so. If I end my life drowned in your goodness, I will die a happy woman.

A short post today, friends, because the beauty of cocoa speaks for itself.

If you’re not a fan of mint (which you should be), simply remove the candy canes from the equation.

Drink up, me hearties!

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Minty Hot Chocolate

2 c half and half
2 c milk
4 mini candy canes
1 c chocolate chips
Kahlua to taste1/2 c whipped cream

In a large pot combine the half and half, milk, and chocolate chips and heat over low, stirring frequently. When hot and the chocolate has melted, remove from heat and add kahlua to taste. Divide into 4 mugs and place a candy cane in each. Topped with whipped cream and serve immediately.

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12 Holiday Food Comas: Peppermint Brownies

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Everyone has their own list of holiday favorites. Recipes they make every year without fail, whether they’ve been passed down from grandma or discovered in a lonely college dorm room whilst dreaming of a white Christmas. This year I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites, some new ideas I’ve been toying with, and suggestions from friends, so every day for the next 12 I will be posting a new recipe to help everyone enjoy the holidays. Today’s beast: Peppermint Brownies.

While peppermint bark is a staple this time of year, I can never eat very much of it. This is probably a good thing for my blood sugar levels, but December is the one month I feel entitled (yes, entitled) to shove as much food into my mouth as possible without feeling an iota of guilt. It’s my right as an American, a human, and practicing Atheist. And I don’t care that that last bit doesn’t make any sense. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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What better way to transform a chocolatey peppermint treat than to turn it into a brownie? I can think of nothing superior.

I did not think enough ahead and didn’t put the crushed candy canes on before popping the pan into the oven, but I would definitely suggest it for any followers. The brownies form a bit of a crust, so sprinkling them on after they bake is not really ideal.

Peppermint Bark Brownies

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 Tbsp. butter
3 oz. cream cheese
3oz white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
2 c. sugar
6 eggs
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsifted flour
3 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 c crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13×9″ pan, or line with foil. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips & 6 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan.  Set aside. In a standing mixer, cream remaining butter with cream cheese and melted white chocolate; add 2/3 c. sugar and beat well.  Add 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 Tbsp. flour.  Set aside. In the clean mixer, beat 4 eggs till frothy; add 1 1/3 cup sugar & beat again. Add semi sweet chocolate mixture, then add rest of flour with salt & baking powder.  Add peppermint extract and rest of vanilla. In the prepared pan, layer half of semi sweet chocolate mixture, then cream cheese, then rest of chocolate mixture.  Dip knife down into mixture and swirl layers, then sprinkle with crushed candy canes.  Bake for 40 minutes or until barely done. This recipe does much better when it’s a bit wet— when it’s dry it just ain’t right. Nom nom nom!

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Guiltless Vegan Chocolate Mousse

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Although taking a break from my “Heroes” marathon was a touch painful, I was happy to do it for further work on this recipe. I have been intrigued for some time by the concept of paleo chocolate mousse with no added sugar, but initial attempts did not satisfy me. The base is comprised of only three ingredients– cocoa, coconut milk, and dates– and the flavor of the dates was too strong for me. I wanted more chocolate, more depth of flavor throughout, and a touch of sweetness that didn’t come from the dates.

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I am very happy with the result, which is rich, creamy, a touch coconutty, and very chocolatey. Feel free to experiment a bit with the level of sweetness– cut out the sugar entirely if you’re a purest, or try it with a tablespoon more or less to suit your palate.

Oh and when I say “guiltless”, I mean “doesn’t have any eggs or dairy, so it makes me feel super righteous.”

Guiltless Chocolate Mousse

1 c pitted dates
1 can coconut milk (do not use low fat)
2-4 T powdered sugar or honey
1 t tapioca or potato starch
1/4 c cocoa
1/2 chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1 t instant coffee powder
1 vanilla bean or 2 t vanilla extract

Refrigerate the coconut milk overnight. Be careful not to shake the can when you open it and spoon out the top layer of thickened cream. Put into a large bowl and back into the fridge to keep cool. In a food processor, puree the dates until you have a paste, adding some of the coconut water from the can to loosen it up a bit. Pass the pureed dates through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the cocoa, melted chocolate, coffee powder, and seeds from the vanilla bean or the extract. Remove the coconut milk from the fridge and whip with a hand mixer on high until it fluffs a bit. Sift in the powdered sugar and tapioca starch and whip on high. Spoon in the chocolate mixture and continue to beat until fluffy and incorporated. Spoon into serving dishes and chill until ready to eat.

This goes very well by itself, but would also be quite tasty with some shortbread, slathered on a piece of cake (if you’re feeling extra decadent), with shredded coconut and espresso salt, or with some toasted almonds on top.

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