Happy Christmas Eve!
For those of you who are celebrating today and tomorrow, I hope you stay safe and warm while awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus this evening.
(And if you happen to live in a region that is already warm, well…you’re already half way there!)
So, I’ve been jonesing to make this peppermint mocha ice cream for quite some time now, long before the drink version made its annual appearance onto coffee shop menus this holiday season. In fact, I started thinking about this flavor months and months ago, when the weather was still summery and I found myself daydreaming about snowflakes and hot chocolate.
Peppermint mochas are a special seasonal drink here in the United States, and my girlfriends and I always look forward to our first sips each year. Along with Thanksgiving parades, snow flurries, and Christmas songs on the radio, the arrival of peppermint mochas at local (and not-so-local) coffee shops signifies the beginning of the holiday season.
This year, I was determined to make a knock-your-socks-off ice cream version of this celebrated drink that I could enjoy at home, whenever I wanted.
There was just one thing standing in my way.
In preparation for this post, I spent a great deal of time researching peppermint mochas…and then mochas in general. Though I’m no barista, all of my research seemed to support one key fact: the best mochas are made with the strongest espresso (not coffee).
A simple way to incorporate the rich espresso flavor into baked goods and ice creams is through the use of espresso powder. However, easier said than done; espresso powder, or instant espresso, is notoriously difficult to find in the States (especially in little country bumpkin towns like mine).
Not to be confused with plain ol’ instant coffee, espresso powder packs a powerful punch when added to desserts. One tablespoon greatly enhances the flavor of chocolate confections, while two tablespoons imparts a lovely and undeniable coffee flavor.
Determined to make the very best mocha ice cream I could imagine, I began my quest for this elusive and coveted ingredient.
However, after days of searching, it became clear that espresso powder (or rather, my lack of it) was going to cause me some major headaches.
Instead of immediately ordering espresso powder from a trusted online retailer like a normal person, I created unnecessary obstacles for myself and began an exhaustive search of every grocery store within a 30 mile radius of my house.
Okay, so “exhaustive” might be a bit dramatic. But you know how it feels when you’ve got your heart set on making cookies, only to find that you’re out of eggs? Well, imagine if your local grocer just stopped carrying eggs completely.
That’s how I felt!
Finally, after weeks of searching (and incessant grumbling), my Senior Product Manager disappeared one morning, and an hour later, a tub of the special ingredient magically appeared in our kitchen.
It was a Christmas miracle!
And let me tell you, it was definitely worth the wait. In a few minutes, our home was filled with the sweet, refreshing aroma of peppermint and mocha, and later that evening, as our Belly Monsters dined on the richest of ice creams, I finally understood what all the fuss was about.
Espresso powder is now a staple in my baking cabinet, and I can’t wait to start adding it to all of my chocolate treats!
Although I’m a huge fan of custard based ice creams, this recipe contains no egg, and thus has a slight iciness that perfectly compliments the minty mocha flavor. It’s a wonderful finish to a filling holiday meal, or a great afternoon pick me up after a long day of shopping.
I hope you enjoy this ice cream version of my favorite holiday drink!
And special thanks to my Sr. Product Manager for tracking down the ingredient that made this post a possibility 🙂
Peppermint Mocha Ice Cream
Yield: About 1 Quart
You will need:
1 cup of whole milk
2 cups of heavy cream
¾ cup of sugar
2.5 tablespoons of instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
¼ cup of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp (or to taste) peppermint extract
1. Combine all ingredients (except the chopped chocolate) in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring ocassionally until sugar granules have dissolved and mixture begins to steam slightly.
2. Turn off the heat, and add in chopped chocolate. Stir until melted and combined, and allow to cool to room temperature. Add a few drops of peppermint extract, tasting as you go. I found that about 1/8 tsp was enough for me, but if you prefer a stronger flavor, you can always add more. Refrigerate the mixture for at least two hours (but preferably overnight).
3. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Eat immediately for a soft serve texture, or freeze overnight for a firmer finished product. Add chocolate chips for even more decadence. Enjoy!