Our days are filled this time of year. So much extra activity and traditions to cross off the list I’m finding myself more than ever longing for days that extend to 36 hours rather than 24. I’m not complaining one bit. When the activities include; Eating, Christmas tree acquiring, cookie decorating, eating, hot chocolate drinking, Christmas light seeing, party go-ing, eating, marshmallow making, etc., there really is nothing to complain about.

But in the back of my mind amid the chaos of the holiday planning I feel the mounting of a fresh start.

A friend recently said to me that her favorite holiday is New Years. I was shocked by this as I thought I wasn’t alone in the feelings of disdain for this holiday. My expectations of attending a fancy party and drinking champagne while ringing in the new year are often smashed with the reality of the near impossibility of finding a babysitter on December 31st, I’m no good at partying hard and late into the night, and I’m still tired from the previous week’s holidays to pay much attention to another party.

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But what made this holiday a favorite for my friend wasn’t the fancy dresses, champagne and late night, it was the chance to start fresh. A time to reflect on all that had happened the previous year and to anticipate what is yet to come. It is a day to start clean with high hopes, new beginnings, and more insight from another year lived.

Last year my husband and I made some very lofty visions for our family at the start of the year. We made specific goals and wrote out the steps needed to happen in order for those goals to be reached. Each day of this past year had more focus and more drive because of the time we spent at the start of it. I felt closer to him as we were working together to accomplish something big. And now as we begin to reflect on the past year we can look back over those goals made nearly 365 days ago and see how far we’ve come and how incredibly blessed we are.

I don’t want to rush through this season. I’m savoring every peppermint scented minute of it but I really am looking forward to spending some time alone and with my husband to focus on what we hope for in the coming year.

What are you hoping for in 2012? Do you make resolutions or goals at the start of the new year?

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Fresh Mint Hot Chocolate

I am on a mint kick these days. If it’s acceptable to add mint to it, I will. Even hot chocolate isn’t safe. What I love about this version is the mint is from fresh mint. It tastes clean and unlike the candy mint – which I also love – fresh mint gives a clean earthy punch that really suits the chocolate well.

If you have more will power than I, bottle up some of this mix and give it as a gift. It will be well received – I assure you.

1 cup cream

1/2 cup whole milk

5 sprigs fresh mint (more or less depending on desired mint flavor – this will give a pronounced flavor but not overpowering)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz) chopped dark chocolate

Bring the cream and milk to a simmer. Add the mint, turn off the heat then let sit for 30 minutes. With the back of a wooden spoon carefully bruise the mint in the cream mixture to release some of the essential oils.

Add the chocolate to a medium bowl.

Stir the salt into the cream then bring back up to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove the mint.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute. Whisk the cream and the chocolate together. If some chocolate remains unmelted, simply place the bowl over a bain marie or gently microwave at 15-30 second intervals. Stirring after each heating.

Add the ganache (chocolate and cream mixture) to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

When ready for a cup of hot chocolate add a couple of spoonfuls of ganache to a cup of heated milk. The amount is really based on taste. I like mine nice and rich so I add roughly 2 tablespoons to 6 oz of milk.

Serve with a homemade marshmallow if you so desire.

(Recipe for marshmallows)

*Here’s another great idea – By simply adding a bit more milk and cream and having marshmallows and sugar cookies on hand you have the makings of a fine fondue. Check out for the recipe.


47 Responses to “Fresh Mint Hot Chocolate”

  1. Kasey

    New Year’s is a big family holiday for me, and it’s also one of my favorites. The reason I love it is because of all of the possibilities it holds. When I was younger and single, there was the possibility of finding love. Now, there’s the possibility of growing my career, my family, my life! I absolutely love this time of year (as I listen to my She & Him Pandora station while I work…) xo friend. Hot chocolate is one of the best parts of this time of year, too 😉

  2. Kelsey

    Stunning. Honestly, these shots are breathtaking, Ashley. I feel you on the late nights. The fact that I’m 22 makes it a little more strange though. When things start winding down in the next week or so I plan to review my vision board and scribbled notes and meanderings that I’ve collected throughout the year on personal goals… I love this time of year for this reason, among others. A time to stop. Reflect. Take it all in. Love this post. Cheers to you and your family.

  3. sara

    oh yes, i fully support the mint bender! I really need this and will make it soon. I haven’t thought much about goals yet, but I really like that time with hugh to talk about the next year. I will require mint hot chocolate at said meeting 🙂

  4. Alaiyo Kiasi-Barnes

    Finally, like spirits who prefer a calm and reflective New Year’s Eve. I love the way your narrative connects with your recipe. The warmth, energy, and sweetness of family, not unlike a cup of Fresh Mint Hot Chocolate, is sometimes all we need wonderful holiday evening!

    Beautiful photos and post.

  5. Darlynne

    What a fabulous recipe, and particularly perfect for two of my favorite people. Thank you!

  6. kale @ tastes good to me!

    This is insanely amazing!! It makes me angry that the stores are closed right now and I cannot go buy fresh mint (even more angry that I don’t have my own mint growing!) Cannot wait to taste it. I am 100% confident I am going to love it!

  7. Kaitlin

    I bet this would be lovely in a latte as well 🙂 Gorgeous photos!

    I love how personal your posts are. It’s so sweet that you and your husband became closer through such a nice project. I know it’s early, but happy new year to you! I hope this one’s even better than the last.

    I don’t often make goals or resolutions. I feel like I should, but I never quite know what to aim for. Their are things I want to accomplish, but I usually just try to start them when I realize that it needs doing 😉

  8. Deanna

    This is utterly brilliant. I love hot chocolate but haven’t been able to find a recipe I liked because the powdered ones never taste good. I just don’t know if I have the will power to not eat it straight from the jar.

  9. Cookie and Kate

    Another winning recipe! I brought in my mint plant for the winter. It’s looking a little sad but I think it has enough leaves to spare for this hot chocolate. Fresh mint beats peppermint flavoring any day!

  10. Cristina

    Ooh this is such a great idea, it saves you from doing the chopping every time you want a cup of hot chocolate.

    Could you please tell me how much chocolate you use by weight? Or if you don’t have any kitchen scales, and don’t use chocolate bars, can you tell me how finely you chop? Rough chopping will mean a lot less chocolate in a cup than fine chopping.


    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Cristina – I just added the weight. I apologize for not having it sooner. Also, I used a mix of half bar chocolate and half bittersweet chocolate chips because it’s what I had. Granted the chocolate chips were 60% but it worked splendidly. The chocolate is chopped in rough 1/2″ chunks.

  11. molly

    Ashley, your off-hand comment last year that ganache makes a great cocoa base revolutionized my cocoa-making. Did I mention that before? Well, twice is not too many times. We are still tweaking our version — 54%, 60%, 85%? — and now you’ve gone and added another variable to the mix!

    Thanks so much.

    And happy holidays, busy and calm.


  12. Rachel

    Wow, this looks like a great homemade gift to give someone. Although I think I’ll just want to eat it straight out of the jar instead!

  13. steph

    How much chocolate did you use by weight? Mine turned out more fondue than ganache. It still makes a great cup of hot chocolate, but I want mine to be like yours. My mint flavor wasn’t as pronounced as I wanted, but some creme de menthe solved that problem!

  14. Anna

    This looks so good. I love chocolate and mint — I would probably end up just eating it by the spoonful instead of heating it with milk.

  15. Darlynne

    The flavor is fabulous, but mine–using the same measures and steps in the recipe–is a sauce. I’m hoping that it will chill to something a little more solid, or I may just have to start over without the milk as mentioned in the comments.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Darlynne – It should set up in the fridge a bit. A sauce will make great hot chocolate too. 🙂 I re-tested the recipe yesterday and it definitely sets with time. Did you weigh the chocolate?
      I’m glad you’re happy with the flavor! I’m looking forward to my nightly cup.

  16. Linsey

    That mason jar of chocolate is my siren. Oh my! This is my weekend project! The mint holding its own outside has me stumped…now I know what to do with it! Yum!

  17. Angela

    Chocolate and mint, what a perfect match!First, the rich flavour of chocolate and then bam! A hint of coolness, oh i simply can’t resist!

  18. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    Yum! We have a local chocolatier here in San Diego called Chuao. They recently released a mint mocha/hot chocolate for the Holiday season and I am obsessed with it.

    I think I might just take your suggestion and make jars of the ganache for gifts this year!

  19. Darlynne

    @Ashley: I made the ganache again today, without the 1/2 cup milk, and it’s perfect. I weighed the chocolate both times, no idea why the first was soupier, but it’s all good.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Missa – I haven’t tried freezing this particular recipe but ganache freezes well. I’d say at least 2 months. If unfrozen the consistency is a bit off try blending in a food processor to bring it back together.

  20. Claudia

    Do I need to sterilise the jar in which I intend storing the ganache? I’ve never made anything like this before, so any help is greatly appreciated!

  21. Mairi @ Toast

    Oh how delicious does that hot chocolate sound! And being Scottish I do love New Year….and yes it is all about refelction & fresh starts. Wishing you & yours a very happy New Year 🙂

  22. Tess

    I loved your story about love. Love is a choice and its not I fell in love with this guy its I choose to love this man and that is what I will choose to do daily. I love love loved it. Thank you so much. I appreciated it so much =D


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