Mint is one of the simplest, prettiest ways to add a hint of natural color and festivity to drinks and dessert. It’s also delicious with meats like lamb, and Paula likes to joke that it’s a good way to get your vegetables into a savory dish.
There are hundreds of kinds of mint, though peppermint and spearmint are probably the most common worldwide. They are considered to have stronger, pure minty flavors when compared with other varieties like pineapple mint or chocolate mint. The peppermint plant’s dark green leaves produce a pungent fragrance and flavor that is slightly bitter and slightly sweet, making it a great variety for oils and extracts. Peppermint has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries and is a very popular taste among Americans, which is why we find it in all kinds of products from toothpaste and medicine to liqueurs and ice cream.
Peppermint plays an obvious nostalgic role around Christmas, with candy canes and other confections. Commercial candy canes are typically peppermint-flavored with a white hard stick and red stripes, and probably date way back to 17th-century German Christian tradition.
Since most of us buy peppermint treats at the store (and usually too many), we’ve compiled a selection of recipes that incorporate extracts and candies into fun and easy holiday desserts. You can always garnish platters, individual portions, and beverages with a small sprig to make things feel special!
*Note from the test kitchen: holding mint leaves in cold water helps maintain a sprightly appearance, and can sometimes even revive an older sprig!
Pick your peppermint perfection…
Bob’s Peppermint Pie
You won’t believe how fast you can whip up this cheerful Christmas classic!
Bobby’s Lighter Peppermint Pie
With low-fat ingredients
Make some to set out on a side table or package up as homemade gifts, which could save you a fortune instead of expensive store-bought bark options!
Peppermint Chocolate Coffee
A heartwarming drink that looks lovely with a candy cane garnish
Meemaw’s Kitchen Sink Christmas Cookies
A great way to use up your holiday pantry ingredients—cookies dipped in white chocolate and crushed peppermint candies!
Holiday Whoopie Pies
With a peppermint filling
Peppermint extract is the secret ingredient in these sweet treats on a stick, sure to please the kids…
Have extra mint or having a craving outside of the holidays? Try adding a sprig to our Sweet Cherry Lemonade or Sweet tea, which teaches you how to make a version of simple syrup, another great thing to do with mint.