I always love how many parties and festive events occur this time of year. It’s fun to indulge in flavors that are usually reserved for the holidays. It seems like everyone goes nuts when pumpkin spice lattes and peppermint mochas are back on menus at local coffee shops. Peppermint is undoubtedly one of the most prominent flavors of the season and there are many delectable peppermint treats to be made. For the past couple of years I’ve made it a holiday tradition to make a batch of homemade peppermint schnapps to divvy up and give as gifts to friends. It makes the perfect addition to a hot cup of cocoa (see our homemade hot chocolate recipe on page 81). And it’s a great staple to have around for shaking up decadent holiday cocktails. You’ll want to make sure you whip it up at least two weeks ahead of time so the peppermint has a chance to fully infuse before using it or giving it as a gift. This boozy treat lasts a long time, so don’t worry about having to use it up quickly.
Homemade Peppermint Schnapps
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon peppermint oil or 2 teaspoons peppermint extract (For stronger mint taste, add ¾ teaspoon of peppermint oil or 3 teaspoons peppermint extract)
- 3 cups vodka
- 4-6 drops red or green food coloring (optional)
- A sterile 1-quart container (for the vodka to sit in while it infuses)
- First, make the simple syrup. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Over medium heat, cook until the sugar is dissolved and liquid is clear, about 5 minutes. Let the sugar syrup cool completely.
- Next, pour the vodka, sugar syrup and peppermint oil or extract into a sterile quart jar with tight-fitting lid, and stir well. (For a sweeter, thicker liqueur, you can add more simple syrup). There you go! That’s all there is to it. Store your delicious creation in a cool, dark place, allowing it to sit for 2 weeks so the flavors fully infuse. Turn the jar upside down every 2 to 3 days to mix, or remove lid and stir.
- Once your peppermint schnapps is done, you can pour it into smaller containers if you’d like. It makes perfect holiday gifts. Just tie on a label, and it’s a delicious present.
White Chocolate Peppermint Cocktail
- 2 ounces whipped cream vodka
- 1 ounce peppermint Schnapps
- 2 ounces white chocolate liqueur
- 2 peppermint candies crushed
- 2 tablespoons marshmallow sundae topping
- Coat the rim of a martini glass with marshmallow topping and dip in crushed peppermint candies to create a peppermint rim. Drizzle marshmallow on the inside of the glass and place in freezer.
- Add whipped cream vodka, peppermint schnapps and white chocolate liqueur to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake for a minute, until the shaker is frosty. Remove glass from freezer. Pour mix from shaker into glass and serve. You can make more than one cocktail at a time, or you can multiply the recipe and make a pitcher if you’re serving a crowd at a party.
For chocoholics, peppermint fudge might be more up your alley. I’d never made fudge before, but my husband loves fudge so I decided to try my hand at it. Candy making can be frustrating. I failed at making pumpkin caramels about five times before I got it, but fudge is so much more straightforward and easy to make, which can be dangerous knowledge! Just tell yourself you’re making it to give as a gift and if you accidentally eat the whole batch, I won’t tell.
Fun fact: Peppermint is an amazing little plant that has been used for thousands of years to soothe nausea, headaches, bloating, indigestion and more.
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup corn syrup
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
- Candy canes or peppermints, crushed
- Oil an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Bring sugar, cream, milk, corn syrup and salt to a boil over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula. Add chocolate and boil to 238 degrees, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and peppermint extracts.
- Pour the syrup in a thin layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Let cool to 110 degrees undisturbed, about 20 minutes. Once cooled, scrape into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Mix on medium speed with a paddle attachment until the fudge thickens and begins to hold its shape, about 7 minutes. Scrape into the prepared 8-by-8-inch pan, and spread evenly with a spatula. Let it set for at least two hours at room temperature. Cut into pieces and store in an airtight container.