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The weather is turning cold. More and more of us are returning inside, lighting fires to warm our bodies and reading new books to warm our minds. Warm your sweet tooth as well with this recipe for Vanilla-Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Plus, check out more festive recipes (Candy Cane Cupcakes!) in Stirring Up Fun with Food.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa powder (Dutch-processed cocoa powder can be found at some grocery stores. However, any loose cocoa powder works)

  • 8 cups of milk

  • 10 sprigs of fresh mint (the container I bought contained 8. If you must have 10, buy two containers)

  • 2 vanilla beans, halved with seeds scraped out (save the pods) or 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (use this – it’s easier)

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 8 ounces of milk chocolate, finely chopped

  • 4 candy canes, crushed (use Starlight Mints if candy canes are out of season)

  • Marshmallows or whipped cream for decoration 

To Do:

Step 1: Bring ½ of a cup of water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. (A pot also works. Just be careful of it boiling over).

Step 2: Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.

Step 3: Pour in the milk and whisk until combined.

Step 4: Add the mint, vanilla bean pods and seeds (or vanilla extract) and bring to a simmer.

Step 5: If using, remove the pods and mint after 10 minutes and discard. (Use a strainer for easy removal).

Step 6: Add the semisweet and milk chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Step 7: Run a wet paper towel over the rims of eight mugs.

Step 8: Put the candy canes/mints into a bag and crush them. (Watch the mints carefully. Chunks that are too big won’t stick to the glass but crush the mints too much and they will become powder.) Transfer the pieces to a plate.

Step 9: Place the wet glasses onto the candy plate.

Step 10: Pour the hot chocolate into the prepared mugs and serve with whipped cream and marshmallows.

Step 11: Wait for the drink to cool before consuming. (Unless you want all the food to taste burnt for the next week).

*Optional*

Pretend you’re in a Hallmark movie. Some suggestions: