Drip... Drip... Boom!!!!! - Learning To Cook Blog at Allrecipes.com - 292332

Learning To Cook

Drip... Drip... BOOM!!!!! 
Dec. 17, 2012 11:43 am 
Updated: Oct. 9, 2013 2:53 am
Experiments are not always successful. Thank you Mr. Obvious! He is always there to lend a hand in the aftermath of disappointment. (You won't find him lurking about after disaster. There's too much clean up!) One of the reasons that experiments can go wrong is that we change too many things at one time. The problem with that is that if something goes right or wrong, you have no solid evidence as to what the problem or solution was.

Today I decided to make a Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix. I based it off of the Alton Brown recipe I blogged on a few posts ago. The peppermint oil I ordered a while back finally came and I wanted to give it a try. I mixed 3 drops of Now Foods 100% Peppermint Oil into a couple of tablespoons of regular sugar. I ground that up as best I could and mixed it into a scant 2 cups of powdered sugar. It smelled very strong with peppermint.

Here is where the problem comes in. I wanted to try a different cocoa powder. But then I decided that I like dark chocolate and added an extra 1/4 cup of Hershey Dark cocoa to the mix. I also added an extra teaspoon of cornstarch because I like it thicker. Since I added extra cocoa powder, I had to add some extra sugar to offset the bitterness of the cocoa. Then I filled half a mug with the mix and poured boiling water into it. The odor was amazing! Chocolatey pepperminty goodness permeated the air. Ah! The sweet smell of success.

The only problem is that it doesn't taste much of peppermint. And now I am left wondering if I used enough peppermint oil in the sugar, or did I screw things up by adding the extra cocoa? I suspect the boiling water drove off the peppermint oil, but the scientist in me is saying I have no proof because of the multiple variables that I changed. If the hot water drives off the volatile oils of peppermint, how will I ensure the flavor stays in the cup when I add hot water? Maybe I need to age the sugar and oil together to make the oil really adhere to the sugar? Any food scientists out there?
Dec. 17, 2012 12:37 pm
Seems like an easy test to confirm or invalidate your theory that hot water drives off the volatile oils of peppermint. Boil some water, add some peppermint oil, and do a taste test. You could also set up your test having one measured amount of tap water with peppermint oil and another measured amount of boiled water with peppermint oil to see if there is a noticeable weakness between the two. I know the peppermint oil I use in smoothies is very strong so it is unaffected by temperatures near freezing. I also wonder why the oil needs to be added at boiling temp rather than adding after you let your chocolate mix cool a bit.
Dec. 17, 2012 12:47 pm
No clue,but interesting read.
Dec. 17, 2012 1:04 pm
Good experiment idea, CJ. I am not sure if peppermint taste is lessened by hot water, but I do know that the taste and smell will diminish with time. I make peppermint chocolates, I make the mix the night before, let it sit overnight, shape, then dip into chocolate the next day. Past years I had just OK peppermint chocolates. The flavour seems to disappear. This year I doubled the amount of peppermint, tasted and I feared I overdid it, but by the next day when I was shaping they tasted great. So....make a small batch and double up the peppermint just to see what happens.
Dec. 17, 2012 1:24 pm
I am using 100% peppermint oil, not an extract. It is very strong. The reason I am adding it to the mix is to be able to put mix in a jar and give as a gift. Also, it's really nice to have a one step drink for the kids to enjoy. Hmmm... also, for honesty's sake, I am a bit lazy. It's just nice to fill my mug half way with mix and pour hot water in. My daughter just tried it and told me that the peppermint is fine. That was after I added a tablespoon more sugar with 3 more drops of oil mixed in. Total of 6 drops. I noticed that the stronger mix actually had a little more peppermint heating... That feeling you get from peppermint that is both hot and cool at the same time.
Dec. 17, 2012 1:26 pm
BTW Thanks for your comments: all three of you!
Dec. 17, 2012 4:20 pm
I think you should ring the bell for Cat Hill.
Dec. 17, 2012 7:39 pm
I was considering throwing hunks of fruitcake at her, but she wouldn't like that!
Dec. 18, 2012 11:53 am
Watch it! I have a good arm and can hurl those hunks back! Peppermint seems to be highly violatile. I'm still in the experimenting stages with it since my last blog. I have learned from a homeopathic DR. that to get the most effect out of peppermint tea one needs to cover it as it steeps. I tried my hand at homemade Girl Scout cookies with mixed results. Peppermint oil is on their list of ingredients which I did not have. I used my mint sugar and extract. Minty but not strong like the store bought cookies. The Dh says he can smell the mint but it doesn't have the punch I wanted. Good thing I like those cookies because I see several batches ahead of me!
Dec. 18, 2012 1:44 pm
Thanks for your input Cat! I think I need to increase the amount to eight or ten drops of oil to a tablespoon of sugar. Maybe go for an even dozen drops. I know the cinnamon will take much less. Apparently it is either more concentrated or less volatile.
Dec. 18, 2012 6:33 pm
I wonder how cilantro would taste in fruitcake?
Dec. 18, 2012 7:10 pm
Probably wouldn't hurt the taste at all!
Dec. 19, 2012 7:03 am
I am curious, have you tried peppermint extract to see if it works? Or crushed peppermint candy? See this recipe. http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,173,148169-233203,00.html
Dec. 19, 2012 8:07 am
Hmm... crushed peppermint candy? Giving a use to all those purposeless candy canes! You are an angel, you are. Extract is less potent, and it is water based. It won't work in a dry mix. Thanks for the idea!
Dec. 20, 2012 2:32 am
Yes! Use the candy cane as a stirrer! Fun and more flavor! Fruitcake food fight? I'm in!! :D
Dec. 20, 2012 11:11 am
I wish I was an animator. I just had a brilliant idea for a short cartoon flash threw my head. Fruitcake Wars! All of the Star wars characters, but made out of fruitcake... On second thought maybe it was a silly idea. "Luke! I am your fruitcake!" No kidding!
Jan. 16, 2013 1:07 pm
why does it take so much nonsense to get to the point? why do i have to read a bunch of irrelevant stuff just to find out how to make something? if you have something to offer in the way of a recipe, just get to the point, fast. some of us have lives.
Oct. 9, 2013 2:53 am
@patty- I'm pretty sure that's the whole point of a blog as opposed to just reading a recipe...
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I'm old and smelly, kinda like a really good salami with that really nice white mould all over it.
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Schweinebraten mit Knoedel und Krautsalat. Also Edel Hirsch Gulasch was very nice. I make killer Spaetzle and Knockerl also.
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