Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season

Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season
Holiday 2009
Holiday 2009

So I finally got our Holiday Card done. I’m completely missed Thanksgiving this year and am a little late for Chanukkah (today’s the 7th night), but I haven’t missed Christmas or New Years yet… So I hope every one has a happy last few days of Chanukkah, a very merry Christmas and blessed New Year! As you can see, we have two new members of our family, Cheeky and Sally. They are our new hens and pets. I will hopefully do another post on them soon. We are planning on building their coop this weekend and finally kicking them out of my laundry room/zoo. Yeah!!!!

Winter always makes me crave peppermint and chocolate as you can probably tell from Claire’s birthday. So I thought I would share with you my favorite peppermint and chocolate holiday treats. First the store bought goodies. Trader Joe’s has Dark Chocolate Mint Creams that are gluten and dairy free. They do not call them that because they are made in a factory that may use these and other common allergens, but they are good enough for our family. One of my other favorites are the See’s Peppermint Twists. I like to call them peppermint puffs because they have a texture more like puffed sugar. We had both of these at Claire’s party.

For Claire’s class on Friday I made rice krispies treats with dark chocolate and crushed peppermint on top. I just make the rice krispies treats per the directions on the box and let them cool. I them cut them into squares. I then melted some dark chocolate with a little hempmilk (just enough to get it to spread nicely). Use can use the microwave on about 80% power at 30 sec. intervals or melt it over warm water. I use Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pound Plus for most of my baking or their dark chocolate semi-sweet chips. They are both dairy free. I them dip or brush the chocolate over each square and sprinkle with crushed peppermint sticks. There is nothing healthy (or very natural) about these treats, but they taste good!

The Cake
The Cake

The cake was chocolate with peppermint icing. I got the cake recipe off the William Sonoma cake pan I bought for the party, but am not keeping it as I can not bake in in without the cake sticking. I tries it three times and followed the instructions. I think the problem might be that I can not use really butter, but have to use margarine. I ended up adapting the recipe, since it did not work anyway, to make it lower in fat and sugar. Here is a link to the original chocolate sandwhich cookie cake. My changes:

  • I used spelt flour and added 1/2 tsp. more baking powder and 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
  • I halved the butter and substituted applesauce.
  • I used 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup agave nectar. This does not reduce it by much, but when you are making multiple batches you can use even less sugar.

For the Frosting I found this recipe for Peppermint Buttercream Frosting on ABC NEWS website. I basically did it exactly, but used Earth Balance (for butter) and Hempmilk (for milk). This recipe used peppermint schnapps which is very nostalgic for me. As a kid, my parents would let us have a little peppermint schnapps in our hot chocolate during the holidays! Which leads me to my last peppermint and chocolate recipe…

Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps

Don’t worry I left out the schnapps at the birthday party. My kids don’t like hot choloate, so I gave them chocolate hempmilk (yum!) and let everyone else drink the real stuff. I used the Joy of Cooking recipe for American hot chocolate as follows:

  • Stir together in small, heavy sauce pan: 1 TBSN unsweetened cocoa, 1 teaspoon sugar (I used agave).
  • Vigorously stir in, first by TBPNs and then in a slow steady stream: 3/4 cup milk
  • Heat stirring constantly and scrapping the bottom of the pan, over medium heat just until bubbles appear at the sides.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in 1/8 tsn vanilla or 1/2 tsp Kalua pr Grand Marnier (this is where I used the schnapps).

You can always adjust the sweetness or strength of the chocolate or peppermint to taste, but I would go through all the steps first and adjust after.

I wish you all a very happy Holiday Season filled with chocolate and peppermint dreams!