Wood Chips And Hot Chocolate Thoughts. - Learning To Cook Blog at Allrecipes.com - 291337

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Wood Chips And Hot Chocolate Thoughts. 
Dec. 5, 2012 9:42 am 
Updated: Dec. 6, 2012 8:07 am
First, I just want to whine a bit. I'm not used to hard physical labor. Let me tell you that moving a 12' x 6' x 4' pile of wood chips to various places in the yard is hard work! It's even worse because the chips were from the city, and these bad boys have a lot of three and four foot long twigs mixed in and they make shoveling impossible. I had to use a garden fork to get them into the wheel barrow! It was good to get the exercise, but I am sore and tired. Poor me.

On the other hand, moving all that mulch gave me time to ponder. That's always a dangerous thing for me, but since I have found AllRecipes I have stopped thinking about things like, "I wonder if I can build a breeder reactor in my pole barn?" For an interesting read, you can follow this link to a Harper's article that discusses a boy scout who did just that. Atomic Boy Scout. And folks think I'm dangerous! I was pondering my investigations into hot chocolate mixes, which tastes great and won't make you glow or your hair fall out.

Some of you may remember that I said that I wanted to try to flavor the sugar with peppermint. Cat Hill and I were discussing through comments, ways in which I could get peppermint flavor into sugar. She had made some mint sugar by grinding dried mint with sugar, which she then used in baking. I think we both agreed that having bits of mint leaf in the hot cocoa would be displeasing to the drinker! I settled on trying to impart the mint flavor to the sugar by drying some mint from my garden and then sealing the mint and sugar together for a few weeks to see what happens. Well, after 3 days I am sad to report that the sugar smells kind of nasty. It's not minty, just vegetal.

Thankfully, my mind seems to function all on its own. I get a lot of, "Eureka!" moments most of which end in a stain, something broken, or some other painful memory. (Oh, the scars!) Minding my own business and watching television, I suddenly realized what the answer to this problem might be. When I worked in the food industry, we made an intermediate product that plated oleoresin paprika or oleoresin black pepper onto salt. It was a convenient way to get this ingredient into the product. Basically, an oil that had either paprika or black pepper soaked in it would be added to salt. The oils wouldn't dissolve the salt, rather they deposited the flavor (and color) onto the salt crystals. The salt remained relatively free flowing. I was excited! Could this be the answer?

I ran to the kitchen and grabbed the sugar and the olive oil. There was a potential problem. Salt is an ionic crystal. Sugar is a molecular crystal. I'm not exactly sure what that might mean, but salt is held together by it's electric charge, whereas sugar sticks together out of sheer spite, or something like that! Would oil and sugar leave me with a lumpy mess, or a fairly free flowing powder? I took a 1/4 cup of sugar and intended to put a few drops of oil in it. Excitement got the better of me and about a half teaspoon went in. I stirred it up and was very happy to see that the oil plated to the sugar just like it would to salt! It wasn't as free flowing as I had hoped, but there was far too much oil in it for the amount of sugar. I think this is going to work!

Now I just need to find a source of peppermint oil. If I had enough of my own peppermint, I would dry it and then extract it in some corn or peanut oil, and then use that to make my sugar.
Dec. 5, 2012 7:22 pm
You could find fresh peppermint in the produce section of a large supermarket. Instead of dehydrating it, steep it in canola oil at 130-150 degrees for 30 minutes- longer won't hurt. Remove from heat and bottle with the stem of leaves. You can do the same thing with clear syrup for a topper/ sweetener. As for peppermint sugar, bruise the leaves with a mortat/pestel then add to a cup of sugar, srir together and rest it for two days, stirring whenever it crosses your mind. Taste it and if too strong (usually is), cut the flavor with more sugar.
Dec. 6, 2012 4:05 am
Don't the fresh leaves gum up the sugar? I could try making peppermint oil at home. That would be easy, though I would want it to be very strong because I would only want to use a very small amount of oil to plate onto the sugars. But if the fresh peppermint in sugar works, I wouldn't need to oil at all. Thanks Mr. Harvey!
Dec. 6, 2012 5:55 am
The leaves are only bruised to release the flavor. As long as they were dry before bruising them and you don't mash them, you shouls be ok. If the sugar does clump on the leaves, a quick smack with a spoon will break it apart.
Dec. 6, 2012 8:07 am
Thanks for that! I'll see if the market has any peppermint.
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Doc Simonson

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About Me
I'm old and smelly, kinda like a really good salami with that really nice white mould all over it.
My favorite things to cook
Meat, carbs, meat, carbs, meat, carbs and did I mention meat?
My favorite family cooking traditions
Drop a plate of Pierogis and sausages in front of me and watch my eyes glaze over in pure joy.
My cooking triumphs
Schweinebraten mit Knoedel und Krautsalat. Also Edel Hirsch Gulasch was very nice. I make killer Spaetzle and Knockerl also.
My cooking tragedies
There aren't enough electrons in cyberspace! :) Actually, the tragedies usually involve well intentioned creativity out of control.
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