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Warm Up with a Delicious Cup of Hot Chocolate

Curl up on a cold day with peppermint hot chocolate 

Chocolate Cup

Your family has been running around all school year, trying to manage hectic schedules. Although the holiday season can be just as hectic, being able to find a little downtime tends to be easier while the kids are on holiday break. This winter, grab some books from the library, light a fire, curl up on the couch with a quilt and have a laidback family afternoon.
Make your day even more indulgent by mixing up a batch of homemade Peppermint Hot Chocolate. A day of relaxing by the fire wouldn’t be complete without it.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Makes 6 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Note: For an eye-catching presentation, try chopping up mint candy canes and sprinkling  the pieces on top of the whipped cream in each mug.
Ingredients
½ cup chilled whipping cream
7 Tablespoons sugar, divided
¾ teaspoon peppermint extract, divided
6 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or the seeds from 2 vanilla beans)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
1. Using an electric mixer, whip cream, 1 Tablespoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Chill until ready to use as topping for the hot chocolate.
2. In a separate saucepan, bring milk to simmer over medium heat.
3. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon peppermint extract and vanilla bean paste and stir.
4. Reduce heat to low and add semisweet chocolate, cocoa powder and remaining sugar; whisk until smooth.
5. Ladle hot chocolate into mugs. Top with previously prepared whipped cream.
Just Right
Hot chocolate can be too hot for little mouths. Instead of watering down the hot chocolate with ice cubes, create a batch of Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Once cooled, pour the hot  chocolate into clean ice cube trays, place in your freezer and freeze solid. Whenever you have hot chocolate that is too hot to drink, drop a couple flavored ice cubes in your drink. Your hot chocolate will cool off nicely without getting watered down.
Written and photographed by Kristen Doyle

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