Friday, November 27, 2009

tastes of the season


You already know that I made it past Halloween without my double-stuffed, neon orange Oreos. I'm now here to report that I bypassed Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or even those little Italian cookies (a Brooklyn favorite) that decorate the after-dinner table each year. I survived Thanksgiving, sugar-free. (Well, almost. I found out later that the mashed turnips had a bit of sugar in them. Live and learn.)

My Thanksgiving this year consisted of apple cider, kissed with the tartness of pomegranate juice and a splash of fizzy water. A two-year old's sniffles when she couldn't find her Christmas tree figurine ("Where my Christmas tree?"). A surprisingly moist and flavorful slice of turkey breast, accompanied by a silken puree of mashed potato. Trying to stay out of the way as eleven other people maneuvered their way into seats around the expanded dining room table. Falling to sleep in a quiet home tucked within New York City, totally content.

I need to tell you that Thanksgiving without sugar blew other Thanksgivings out of the water. This year, instead of anticipating the cloying rush of sweetness at the end of the meal, I savored each bite, noticed the sideways glances around the table as the grandmothers squabbled and the couples squeezed hands. I woke up this morning with more energy than I can usually muster on Post-Turkey Friday, and I gazed out the window at barren branches swaying in the wind. I was happy.

While Thanksgiving was great and all, for me, it's simply the Christmas season's gatekeeper. I'm sure my contentment this morning is due in no small part to the fact that I can now admit that I'm listening to Christmas carols without shame, don some red sweaters, dash to the nearest holiday office party, and start consuming things that contain peppermint.

While I'm perfectly content with passing up Halloween candy and pumpkin pie, I will not be deterred from the familiar tastes of the holiday season. Thus my proudest achievement of the year so far, my refined sugar-free peppermint hot chocolate. Tasting this for the first time a few nights ago, I sighed in contentment. This is everything I always loved about the holiday drinks at Starbucks, and I don't even have to waste a paper cup to get it. Even better, I can drink it in the evening without experiencing what I now call a "sugar hangover" the next morning. Sipping my proud creation as I write, I'm convinced there is no more perfect way to spend a morning and kick off a season.


P.S. Big news! Remember how we were giving away a book way back when it was Thin Crust Deep Dish's birthday? Well, our very lucky winner (selected scientifically from a baking dish of names) was Caitlin of Roost. Congratulations to you! We can't wait to find out which book you'll chose. And thanks to all who participated and showed your love here. It was a blast to hear from you, and we appreciate your kind words of encouragement more than you know.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Serves 2

2 cups whole milk
4 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Ghirardelli)
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 Tbs. raw honey
6 drops liquid Stevia (or less, depending on your taste)

Warm milk over low heat in a small pan. In a mug, combine cocoa powder, peppermint extract and honey. Once the milk has warmed, pour about two tablespoons of it into the cocoa mix. Stir briskly with a fork until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Pour mixture into pan of milk and whisk until it incorporates fully. Taste the hot chocolate with a small spoon. If it isn't sweet enough for your taste, add Stevia one drop at a time, whisking and tasting as you go. Once the sweetness is to your liking, continue to heat hot chocolate until it is hot but not boiling. Pour into mugs to serve.

To make a peppermint mocha, simply pull a shot of espresso into the bottom of the mugs before serving. To make an alcoholic hot chocolate, replace the peppermint extract with a shot of peppermint schnapps.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate


  1. What an inspiration you are! I'm trying to stop eating sugar, but it's so much fun to work with! (Well, it's 5:14am I'm feeling the post sugar guilts--I'm going to try that recipe right now!)

  2. Yummy! This was a good recipe, but I used almond milk (avoiding that dairy too!)

  3. Marcia: I hear you! It's fun to do a sugar-free challenge, though. I'm thinking about doing one here soon, so maybe you can try it out then with support.

    Anonymous: Oh, I'm sure it would be lovely with almond milk, as well. Yum.


  4. Oh man, we should do a sugar challenge starting the day after I finish my Baking and Pastry class as school. I'm telling you, I'm going to be needing some serious detoxing after 6 straight weeks of eating pie crust and macaroons for dinner.



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Adriana Willsie and Kylie Springman ©2009