Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Little Love for Chocolate Mint - Guest Post by Jenna Petersen

Hello, VegetableFreak community! I hope to be able to give you some tips for incorporating fresh herbs into your cooking, since my Dad affectionately calls me the “herb expert” of the family. I wasn’t always such a foliage specialist, but I do remember the day that I wandered over to Dad and found him picking something green and incredibly fragrant in the field. I quickly learned that this was an herb called basil, and that if I wanted to join him in picking it, I needed to carefully pinch off the leaves to avoid bruising them. This was the beginning of a long relationship of herb cultivation that has only flourished in recent years. While basil remains a staple in our garden and at our Farmer’s Market booth, we have added a variety of other culinary plants. These include parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and many others, one being mint. We sell seven (!) varieties of it as plants: Spearmint, Peppermint, Mint Julep, Mojito Mint, Orange Mint, Chocolate Mint, and Pineapple Mint. Of these, my favorite by far is Chocolate Mint. It has a unique taste, beautiful purple stem, and smooth leaves. Compared to the typical spearmint, I think it has a cooler, stronger taste. It also grows vigorously, a stereotypical trait of most mints. Chocolate mint is amazing, and I have a few suggestions for using this tasty plant.

  • Chocolate Mint Cookies.
I know of two ways to make a good cookie with chocolate mint. The first is to put the actual leaf into the cookie, thereby making it a chocolate mint chocolatechip cookie! The other option, which I tried at the beginning of the summer, is to extract the mint into melted butter, which gives the cookies a subtle minty overtone. This recipe requires chilling the dough, but I promise, it’s worth it. Also, as you may discover once you hit up Baker Bettie, she uses regular mint, but I used chocolate mint because with chocolate mint you really can’t go wrong. I always tell customers to buy their favorite mint, because mint is pretty versatile in recipes.
  • Chocolate Mint tea. 
Place fresh leaves directly in your diffuser among other fresh herbs! I also recommend infusing hot chocolate or coffee with chocolate mint.
  • Chocolate Mint-Covered Strawberries. 
Health-conscious people love this new trend because of the obvious nutritional benefits over the typical milk chocolate-covered strawberry. Also, it requires no fondue. :)
  • Chocolate Mint-Topped Ice Cream. (Need I say more?!)
  • Chocolate Mint Mojitos. 
To be honest, this is probably half the reason why we sell so much mint in the first place.
  • Chocolate Mint essential oil. 
Great for adding to face wash and other natural products.
These would be fantastic using our candy carrots!
Mint sauce complementing Roasted Lamb.
  • Chocolate Mint Fruit Smoothie. 
Smoothies make a great breakfast, afternoon snack, or dessert! Give yours a little pick-me-up by adding chocolate mint leaves. I’ll share my favorite Very Berry Sorbet recipe, which works great jazzed up with Chocolate Mint. For a single serving, it takes 1/3 banana, 1 cup cherries, a handful of walnuts, your choice of liquid (can be a dash of milk, water, or some peeled cucumber), and chocolate mint. I usually put some of our spinach or baby kale leaves in the blender, as well. Enjoy!

Here is my #1 rule of thumb in using chocolate mint:
Anything chocolate + Chocolate mint = a match made in heaven!
Try out those cookie recipes, or just grab some mint and add it to your cakes, brownies, cupcakes, and pies!

If you read this whole post knowing that you don’t have your own chocolate mint plant waiting at home, you know where to find us at the Downtown Farmer’s Market!

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