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I have a nice pot of chocolate mint, and would like to make something with it. I hear it can be used in baking, like in brownies and maybe cookies. How would you do this?
I've made mint jelly from apple mint, but not chocolate mint. (Mint jelly is a pretty and appropriately flavored filler for Christmas cookies - thumbprint kind - and I think it's great on toast, too.) Anyone tried that? Can you taste/smell any of the chocolate? I plan on trying it, one of these days real soon; but meanwhile, it would be interesting to have somebody's take on how much to put in a baking recipe, and how to prepare it - chop? How finely? Thanks!
I don't know what kind of flavor or scent chocolate mint retains but we dry lots of peppermint and applemint. When dry, I strip the leaves from the stems and use it by rubbing between my hands. More than any other spices, the mint leaves turn to a fine dust. The leaves seem to retain good flavor for up to a year (and then some). I have dusted ice cream and all kinds of confections this way. Also used it on chicken salads, and rice dishes. Oh, and fruit. I've poached pears in port and flavored liquors, as well as peaches and nectarines, and dusted them with dried mint. Very elegant when your stuck for a company dessert. I also use the leaves with cloves, star anise, cardamom, etc. to make tissanes or add to teas.
I have tons, ok many ounces, of chocolate mint! I dry it, then crumble the leaves finely before measuring for a recipe. It gives a "peppermint pattie" flavor to anything you put it in. I use chocolate mint as a tea, add a couple teaspoons in the coffee grounds before perking, or soak them in sweetened condensed milk for 24-hrs to make a coffee creamer, and I'm currently macerating a chocolate mint liqueur. I use a tablespoon or two of dried mint leaves in sweet breads and brownies, or anything that calls for chocolate chips (you can reduce the amount of chips by 1/3 to 1/2). My family and friends' favorite is chocolate mint banana nut bread.
You can start out using it in smaller portions until you find a good balance of flavor that's agreeable to you. Be brave, but beware you will gain weight with the sweets you'll make and can't quit eating and drinking! The dern stuff is very addictive (to me)!
dillansnana, Here is the recipe I used from "Classic Liqueurs" by Cheryl Long & Heather Kibbey, page 63. I use 1/2 gallon Mason jars with plastic lids as aging containers. So far my chocolate mint liqueur batch is tasting really good halfway through the second aging. We have enjoyed every recipe tried from this book!
FRESH MINT LIQUEUR
(makes approx 1 qt)
1-1/2 c fresh mint leaves, slightly packed
3 c vodka
2 c granulated sugar
1 c water
1 T glycerin
8 drops green food coloring
2 drops blue food coloring
Wash leaves in cold water several times. Shake or pat dry gently. Snip each leaf in half or thirds; discard stems. Measure cut mint leaves, packing slightly.
Combine leaves and vodka in aging container. Cap and let stand in a cool place for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally.
After initial aging, pour liqueur through colander into a large bowl to remove leaves; discard leaves.
In a sauce pan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let cool. Add cooled sugar syrup to mint liqueur base, stirring to combine. Add glycerin and food coloring; pour into aging container for secondary aging of 1 to 3 months.
Sundownr, that's a cool recipe! Thank you very much!
Question: How long can a liqueur like this last? (What's its effective shelf life?)
What do you use for an "aging container"? Could a person use, say, a used wine bottle?
Should it be kept airtight (or as close to that as possible) during the aging process? Is it good enough to stuff a cork tightly back into it, if using an old wine bottle? Or perhaps it would be better to use a mason jar, since a good rubber edge on the lid would probably seal really well?
Thanks for any additional advice you can offer.
My mint is "resting" in its pot in the shop in the garage - cold, but not freezing, and not very bright in there. It's damp, but not wet. Not much is happening with it right now except the yellowing of leaves, but I'm sure once decent weather returns it'll pop to life. I maybe should take a cutting and bring it indoors to grow, just to make sure. You never know. Stuff happens.
Such liqueurs don't last long around here ;) I can only assume the shelf life is indefinite since you will be filtering out the mint and there's nothing to spoil with the high alcohol content.
My aging containers are typically mason canning jars, especially the 2-quart (1/2 gallon) size. I have found decorative gallon (or larger) jars at the thrift stores for double/triple batches. When a recipe says the yield is a quart, I make sure to use a much larger container size to accommodate the flavoring agents (fruits, etc.) before they're strained out. I wouldn't use a wine bottle because the opening is too small to get fruits, nuts, and spices into or out of the bottle, and cleaning would be a royal pain even if you could.
The aging containers don't have to have airtight seals, just something to prevent spilling if knocked over and to keep dust and critters out. Some flavored liqueurs need to be stirred or shaken frequently, so easy access is a must. Most of my gallon jars have plastic stopper-type seals, but one has a glass lid that just sits in a groove. I use the plastic canning jar lids on the 1/2-gallon jars because they're easier to deal with.
I don't think it is possible to kill chocolate mint (around here), lol. You might take a few good cuttings to live in a jar/pot of water over the winter and put the rest outside with the container partially buried in the ground to receive a little natural sun and moisture. The friend who gave me starts had yanked her mint out of the ground for three consecutive years trying to clear it from a bed, but it always came back. She said I would be cursing her for the mint gifts in another year. I learned it is very invasive and the more I harvested, the more it grew, and hardier it became. I love it and use it whenever I can.
If yours die because of my suggestions, let me know, I have plenty to share!!
Good luck with your chocolate mints and recipes!
Here's a quick pic of the remaining Christmas aging jars (quarts and a pint) on my kitchen counter. The chocolate mint shown is what was left after measuring gift portions into repurposed Starbuck's frappuccino bottles. I added a few drops of red food coloring to make it a more brownish color instead of the green as the recipe stated.
I know this is not the liqueur or home brew forum, but I found another use for my chocolate mint liqueur that I thought I'd share. Bailey's came out with an Irish cream with a Hint of Chocolate Mint, and I found a recipe for homemade Bailey's Irish Cream (posted below with the author's comments). The "Cream" recipe was terrific made with Tennessee whiskey, so now I'll add the chocolate mint to see what happens . . . no way it can be bad, right?
Homemade Baileys Irish Cream Recipe http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2009/12/homemade-baileys-irish-cream-youll.html
1 C light cream (I used heavy whipping cream, which made it even richer)
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 C Irish whiskey (I used Jameson's)
1 t instant coffee
2 T Hershey's chocolate syrup (I used Torani)
1 t vanilla
1 t almond extract (I skipped this entirely)
-Combine all ingredients in a blender and set on high speed for 30 seconds.
-Bottle in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Shake before using.
-Will keep for up to 2 months.