Last week, my sister took my nephew Jack to the store, and he decided to point out everything he wanted for Christmas. Robots. Action figures. Hot Wheels. Deodorant. So, Jenn reminded him that he’d have to write it all down in his letter to Santa. And Jack, who’s 5, was all, “I CAN’T WRITE!” So, he decided to stand in the middle of the toy aisle, like Saul on the road to Damascus, and lift his voice to the man in red, shouting with great conviction: “SANTA, I WANT THIS BIKE FOR CHRISTMAS! SANTA, LOOK! THESE LEGOS ARE COOL!”

Yes, Jenn tried to explain that you couldn’t pray to Santa, but Jack wasn’t having it. However, when she was Jack’s age, she used to flap her arms and try to fly off the hearth, so I think Jack’s doing OK.

Unfortunately, I don’t share Jack’s enthusiasm for Christmas shopping, so I made a pot of Chatham Candy Manor’s Peppermint Hot Chocolate to get me in the mood. I’d read that people on Cape Cod stand in line for it during the Christmas season – and I’m totally in love with all things chocolate and peppermint (like Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, the peppermint meringue cake with chocolate buttercream on the cover of this month’s “Bon Appétit” and the Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies Joy the Baker posted this morning) – so I had to give the recipe a try.

First, you make the topping: peppermint-infused whipped cream peppered with crushed peppermint candies.

Then, you make the hot chocolate, flavoring it with peppermint and vanilla extracts.

Then you garnish it with … a candy cane! YES! MORE PEPPERMINT!

I don’t know whether I was on a chocolate-peppermint high or it was just the sugar rush, but after one cup, my heart grew three sizes and I sang along with The Muppets doing the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” By the end of the pot, I just might be talking to Santa.

Candy Manor Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Adapted from Lora Brody’s “Chocolate American Style”

Makes 4 to 6 servings

    Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (recommended: Boyajian)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed peppermint candy
    Hot Chocolate:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) whole milk
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract (recommended: Boyajian)
  • Candy canes, garnish
  1. For the Whipped Cream: Place the cream, powdered sugar and peppermint extract in a chilled mixing bowl, and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the crushed candy. Refrigerate the whipped cream.
  2. For the Hot Chocolate: Place the chocolate in a 2 1/2-quart metal mixing bowl. Place the bowl over (but not touching) a pan of simmering water. (The bowl will seem large, but you need the space to mix in the milk.) Stir the chocolate occasionally with a rubber spatula.
  3. In the meantime, pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan. Whisk in the sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk begins to simmer and bubbles form around the edge. Turn off the heat.
  4. When the chocolate has melted, reduce the heat so the water under the pan barely simmers. Pour the 1/3 cup of boiling water into the melted chocolate, and whisk or beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Dribble in the hot milk mixture as you whisk. When the ingredients are well incorporated, remove the bowl from the water bath, and stir in the vanilla and peppermint.
  5. To serve, ladle the hot chocolate into mugs, and top with a generous dollop of the whipped cream. Garnish with a candy cane.