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Chocolate Mint - A Fun Herb

By Luci

Don’t you love chocolate/mint ice cream and candy? Surprise! This appealing combination of flavors appears in an herb. It’s taste: refreshing mint with an overlay of semi-sweet chocolate. Intriguing? Indeed, and fun, too, when you use the herb in concoctions that look like they could not possibly have a chocolate or mint flavor. Surprising and entertaining.


You will find this perennial herb in most garden centers. It is as easy to grow as regular mint and just as hardy.


In Iced Tea

Most of us like mint tea and we all love iced tea in summer. For a delightfully refreshing and provocative summer drink, make it with chocolate mint. You will love the cooling taste of mint and the bonus enhancement of chocolate flavor. It’s pretty, too, a pale golden brown that suits the season.

Preparation

For each cup of water, use 1/2 cup, packed, chocolate mint. Bring to boil, cover, turn off heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain out the leaves. Cool and serve over ice.


On a Bagel or Pita Chip

Chocolate is popular for breakfast, especially in cereals and pastries. So why not on a bagel with cream cheese? The mint taste in the herb pumps up the zing of the cream cheese; the chocolate taste then comes in as a soft note. Definitely unusual and certainly yummy.


The combo was so pleasing that I tried the cream cheese/chocolate mint mixture on a pita chip. Even better. The saltiness of the pita did its job with the fatty richness of the cream cheese, making for a great appetizer.


Preparation

Combine cream cheese and finely chopped chocolate mint in a 2:1 ratio. Smear on a plain bagel or a pita or bagel chip.


With Fresh Litchi

My last post dealt with the joys of fresh litchi. They keep, it seems like, forever and I had a lot left unused. Litchi take well to spicy herbs so it was not surprising to find that chocolate mint and litchi make a great combination. The flavor is unique. The first taste sensation is of the litchi, sweet and spicy, the texture moist and soft. Then the slightly crunchy leaf delivers the bright taste of mint and a veneer of chocolatey goodness. Delightful and droll. The perfect amuse-bouche. Or serve it with dessert.


Preparation

Simple. Crack open a litchi, remove the seed and tuck one chocolate mint leaf between the two halves of the litchi.


In Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is an impressive and delicious dessert of cooked cream that’s quick and easy to make and can be prepared two days ahead. Infuse the cream with chocolate mint to startle your guests. The dessert is an ordinary creamy white but the taste - something else!


Serves eight


Ingredients

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup, packed, chocolate mint leaves

1½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons cold water

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream


Preparation

  1. In a heavy large sauce pan, bring the cream just to a boil. Plunge the chocolate mint leaves into it. Take off the heat. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Put the mixture through a sieve, pressing hard on the leaves to maximize the flavor.

  2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand for 5 minutes.

  3. Warm the cream with the sugar and vanilla. Do not let it boil. Stir in the gelatin until thoroughly dissolved. Take the mixture off the heat and cool about 5 minutes.

  4. Put the sour cream in a medium-size bowl. Gently whisk in the warm cream a little at a time until smooth. Taste and add some sugar if it is not sweet enough for your taste.

  5. Spoon into 8 ramekins or dessert bowls. You may use one large bowl and serve it with an ice cream scoop. Chill for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. Serve with a garnish of a dark chocolate square and a sprig of chocolate mint.


In Whipped Cream




Whipped cream is a lovely topping for many desserts. Flavor it with chocolate mint - delectably seductive! Try it on fruits, especially strawberries, raspberries and bananas or on brownies, cakes, mousses or puddings. Preparation is simple. Follow the instructions in Step 1 above for panna cotta.

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