One of my favorite winter indulgences is a delightful mug of cocoa — and my favorite way to indulge is with a cocoa diluted by peppermint schnapps.
My brand of choice when shopping for peppermint schnapps is Arrow. Since 1999, Arrow has been owned by Luxco, a private-label bottler, importer and marketer of wine and spirit brands established by the David Sherman Corporation in 1958. Originating in the early 20th century from a secret European family recipe, Arrow is the third-best selling cordial line in the United States today. Their products include traditional cordials, liqueurs, creams and a wide selection of flavored schnapps and brandies.
The reason I like this schnapps is because of its dry peppermint flavor and affordable price. Unlike crème de menthe, a typically green and much sweeter mint-flavored liqueur, I find Arrow peppermint schnapps to be relatively easy to sip straight or over ice. Its 27 percent alcohol by volume leaves a slight warmth in the mouth and inspires me to think of what mouthwash could taste like should Listerine choose to improve itself.
With a delicate sweetness and a warmth derived from oil of peppermint and alcohol, this schnapps is not enjoyable when consumed straight in quantities beyond a few sips. However, for a small and potentially cloying cocktail, chocolate syrup can be added to create a delicious mint-flavored beverage. For creaminess and a slightly less sweet beverage, milk, half-and-half or cream can be added.
Peppermint schnapps is featured in many beverages with the typical fantastic cocktail names: Liquid Crack, Liquid Heroin, Liquid Cocaine #3, Acid Cookie and Little Green Man From Mars are just a few.
Actually, before writing this article, I had only used schnapps in cocoa — the recipe for which I will share later — and was shocked at how easily this mixes with other liquors and liqueurs. The cocktails in the liquid drugs series are essentially derivations of Jagermeister and peppermint schnapps, with various other ingredients like Bacardi 151 rum or cinnamon schnapps. Many also combine chocolate liqueurs and cream.
There is one trick involved in making my hot chocolate. Melted chocolate will “seize” with the addition of liquid. This is where the starches in the chocolate stiffen, and create a chunky texture. For a smooth, rich cocoa, it is essential to carefully melt the chocolate completely in a thoroughly dry vessel and stir it with a similarly dry utensil. As you add the liqueur, liquor, flavorings and milk, stir thoroughly after each is added until the texture is uniform and smooth. This recipe is best if you have an espresso machine with which to steam the milk, but it can also be heated on the stove or in a microwave, as long as care is taken to not allow the milk to heat beyond 160 degrees, lest it burn.
Reach reporter Matthew Jackson at email@example.com.
Matthew’s peppermint rum cocoa
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce Arrow peppermint schnapps
1/2 ounce spiced rum
3 cups milk, divided
Whipped cream (optional)
In a glass liquid measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl, combine semi-sweet and white chocolate. Microwave until melted completely, stirring every minute until smooth. Add vanilla and stir until thoroughly combined (mixture will get thicker and chunky). Add schnapps and rum, again stirring until thoroughly combined.
Microwave an additional 30 seconds before whisking in ½ cup milk. Whisk until completely smooth and thoroughly combined. Divide evenly between three mugs.
Either steam or heat milk until warm, and divide between mugs, stirring until melted chocolate is dissolved into the milk. Top with whipped cream, find yourself a good book and warm blanket to enjoy.
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