Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

Creamy-smooth hot cocoa laced with fresh mint, vanilla bean, and homemade matcha marshmallows – whiskey is optional!

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

It may just be our new political climate, but lately whenever someone wishes me Merry Christmas, it really rankles. I’m always tempted to trill “Happy Hanukkah!” in response, which would seem equally ludicrous to them, or burst into a full on rant about how not everyone in this country is exactly the same as you, bro. But I usually just settle for a tight smile and mutter “Happy Holidays.”

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

So when Sarah and I hatched the plan for a festive hot cocoa collaboration crowned with matcha-green pine tree marshmallows, I grappled with the implications. My parents are both Jewish, but only identify with the culture and none of the religion. Growing up, we had both a menorah and Christmas tree with all the trimmings each December. (I wish I could smugly say I got double the presents, but everyone knows Hanukkah gifts suck – I’m looking at you, dreidels and waxy, gold foil-covered milk chocolate coins.) Hanukkah isn’t even the most significant of Jewish holidays, but it’s been elevated as a sort of consolation prize – Christmas’s redheaded step-sibling that will never be quite as cool.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha MarshmallowsFresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

So while tree-shaped green marshmallows were perfectly festive, did they have a place on this not-very-good Jew’s blog? Could I pretend they were Hanukkah bushes?

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

The truth is, I’ve never felt particularly connected to either holiday. (Though I do feel connected to latkes and rugelach, especially when they’re connecting with my mouth.) Add to that a loathing of crowds, a dislike of pressure-shopping, anxiety around children, and a competing birthday (it was last Friday), and the main emotion I feel around the winter holidays is annoyance that my favorite dance teacher is away in Cuba for a month and how will I possibly survive this bleak winter full of post-truth politics and decadent meals at every turn without my weekly salsa workout to whip my mind, body, and soul into shape?!

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

Sarah felt my angst, and let us cut some of the ‘mallows into inoffensive squares. (Although perhaps it would have been more apt to cut them into Grinches.)

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

But once the trees were in the cups, I realized that they didn’t remind me of two monotheistic celebrations, but rather of one holiday I can completely get behind: Winter Solstice, the indisputable, scientifically-proven shortest day of the year and Pagan celebration of the coming of winter. Another thing we get behind? TREES. They help slow climate change and they’re pretty.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

So while there may not be all that much to celebrate this year, one little personal positive in a sea of badness is that Sarah and I made our working relationship even more official this year by launching Storied Provisions. We teamed up with a few great brands to create recipe videos for your viewing pleasure, with more deliciousness in the works. It’s early days, but if you want to see what we’ve been up to, subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow along on Facebook. There are even fancy latkes. You’re welcome.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

This hot cocoa recipe is a riff on one that Sarah and I created for Rodelle and KitchenAid (with a nifty video to go with!). It features Rodelle’s new organic baking cocoa, which is deep reddish-brown in color and powder-fine, with a creamy chocolate flavor. It makes a delicious crust for tarts, cheesecakes, and more cheesecakes. When blended with hot milk and sugar, it turns out a rich and creamy hot cocoa, no chocolate necessary. We spiked ours with molassesy brown sugar and gingerbread spices and topped it with homemade gingerbread marshmallow people. You can get the recipe here and here.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

Craving more cocoa, and everything matcha and mint, we whipped up this variation flavored with steeped fresh mint leaves and green matcha marshmallows. Fresh mint steeped in the hot milk adds a burst of freshness to the creamy cocoa, delicately sweetened and sharpened with a few drops of peppermint extract. The bitterness of the matcha tempers the marshmallows’ sweetness (Sarah made a version sans corn syrup like the wizard she is!) and the grassy flavor is perfectly pitched with chocolate and mint. Jay and I spiked ours with a slug of bourbon and it was as though we’d died and gone to (the Christian version of) heaven.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

As a bonus, this hot cocoa makes an easy gift (see instructions in the recipe below). And everybody likes those.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

Get the recipe for Sarah’s amazing Matcha Marshmallows (and more positive holiday attitude!) here.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows
Yields: 4 servings
 
Add a splash of bourbon or whiskey to each cup if you want to booze it up! If you don't have marshmallows on hand and need a quick matcha fix, whip together ¾ cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 2 teaspoons matcha powder until soft peaks form for a quick topping.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups (950 ml) whole milk
  • 1 large bunch fresh spearmint leaves (about 2 cups lightly packed)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • ½ cup (45 g) dutch-process cocoa powder (such as Rodelle)
  • ½ cup (100 g) organic granulated cane sugar (more or less, to taste)
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract (more or less, to taste)
  • 8 Matcha Marshmallows, for serving
Instructions
  1. Place the milk, mint leaves, and vanilla pod and scrapings in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan placed over medium heat. Slowly heat to just below a simmer, until steamy, stirring frequently to prevent scorching the milk. Remove from the heat and steep 10 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve and into a large bowl, squeezing all the good stuff out of the mint leaves. Discard the leaves. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa into a medium bowl with the sugar and salt. Add enough of the hot milk to the cocoa mixture and whisk to form a smooth paste (this prevents the cocoa from clumping), then whisk in the rest of the milk and return to the pot placed over medium heat. Warm the cocoa until hot to your liking, stirring to prevent scorching, and adding enough peppermint extract until you like the flavor. Ladle into mugs and top with matcha marshmallows.
  2. The hot cocoa can be made up to several days ahead and refrigerated; heat before serving.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa Gifts in a Jar
Yields: 2 servings
 
Instructions
  1. For each 2-serving jar, rub the seeds from ½ a vanilla bean into ¼ cup organic granulated cane sugar and a pinch of salt. Place in a 4-ounce canning jar and top with ¼ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder or enough to fill the jar. Cover with a lid and include the following instructions and 4 matcha marshmallows:
  2. Whisk with 2 cups hot milk. Recommended: Steep milk with 1 cup fresh mint before adding cocoa.

Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows

24 thoughts on “Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa with Matcha Marshmallows”

  1. I’ll be your work spouse any day of the week. As long as I don’t have to pressure-shop for gifts. Also, you might notice that everyone tends to get their gifts from me AFTER the holidays. One look at those lines and I’m in the kitchen making more marshmallows and sipping hot cocoa!

  2. I want to hug you, Alanna… not that you’d want one.. buuuutttt… All the things surrounding this season you mentioned, we’re in the same proverbial boat rowing up stream in the tide of shoppers, lines, anxiety, scary santas, way too much focus on consumerism and Merry Christmas. The food (cookies and hot chocolate), parties and small gathers are my favorite things. Agreed we are a diverse nation and there are many traditions and beliefs behind this time of year. I’m with you on the Solstice. A beautiful reason to celebrate and to be grateful (even in this horrific political season). The trees, more of them please, chocolate and whiskey ….! Congratulations to you and Sarah on your new venture! I love seeing your work expand. You are such an inspiration to me. Happy Holidays my dear! xo

  3. You are so funny! Love this solstice recipe. And the sound of the other cocoa too! Yum to both! Full disclosure: I almost pinned it to my Christmas board then thought better of it and pinned to my photography admiration board instead. Lol. Oh and congrats to making it official with Sarah. You two will do great things together. Can’t wait to follow along.

  4. My best friend is Jewish, and she feels like Christmas is shoved down her throat, and she hates it. I am not Jewish, or Christian for that matter, but I really don’t see what the big deal is. The holiday / shopping hell / consumerism / scary santas are shoved down everyone’s throat, no matter one’s religion. No one I know is into it. My Jewish ex-husband was truly insulted when I brought home an undecorated wreath one year, and I felt he was over-reacting in a major way. Xmas, solstice, Hanukkah, whatever. It’s just a winter celebration. One more month of having small get-togethers with friends or chilling out alone with cats or dogs or one other person and eating / drinking delicious things. I think it’s nice. Is it really even about religion any more anyway? It never has been for me. Whatever someone wishes you this year, they’re just trying to say Happy Holidays. Say something, or nothing, in return. I guess I’ll brace myself for some hate mail now. Sorry. I’m old. I don’t get it.
    Anyways, Happy Holidays.

  5. i learned more about you in this post. :) thank you for sharing your mind and thoughts, because not everything is always happy, or the same, or “as it should be.” i can get behind your marshmallow squares, trees, cocoa madness, and your new work of storied provisions. all the love. xo

  6. Congratulations to you and Sarah on your venture! Storied Provisions sounds amazing — the videos I’ve seen from you two through your blogs are always super sweet and special.
    I think your hot cocoa and matcha marshmallows look like the perfect wintery treat. Happy solstice xo
    p.s. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!!! I meant to send a quick note but caught the flu and the past several days have been a foggy sick blur :(
    p.p.s. Yay(!!!) for the Well + Good article on alternative baking! So exciting, Alanna!

  7. I grew up Catholic but am very much a nontheist Unitarian Universalist now. “Merry Christmas!” used to bother me in the same way until I decided it’s Federal holiday and that makes it secular. It has its own seasonal, nonreligious, commercial and cultural meanings apart from the Nativity story. Dicken’s “Christmas Carol” has no Jesus story to its redemption message, just as a surprising reminder. I hope you find a way to latch on to what’s American/Western about Christmas minus what’s Christ about it. And if not, let me be the first to wish you Merry President’s Day. :)

    I’ve never tried a marshmallow recipe because gelatin. It will probably have to wait until after the holiday for me to try and figure out a substitute, but I love the idea of matcha flavor with that texture. I will, though, try your chocolate recipe at Christmas brunch for two with my wife.

  8. I was smiling while reading your blog post! All the commercial happenings are a bit much, especially the one about presents! We get a couple presents for our kids but that is about it. I do love giving home-made gifts, cause they are fun!
    Loved this recipe with the mint hot chocolate and Matcha marshmallows! Super adorable! :) And ofcourse as usual, I can never get over all those gorgeous pictures!
    Congrats on the YouTube channel! I will subscribe to it! cant wait to see what you and Sarah come up with in the coming year! such a dynamic duo :)

  9. I am a heavily Christian catholic-influenced agnostic by culture. I know how Christmas replaced Sol Invictus, the winter solstice celebration, and I know very little of Jewish holidays. But what I know is that even in my teen atheist days I loved Christmas and its paraphrenalia. The food was one of the reasons of course, but not the only one. I love visiting neighboring towns and their presepi, which for someone who loves modeling and miniatures is always a treat. Some of them are really creative and mechanically complex. I love family gatherings and opening presents under the christmas tree (something I don’t do anymore because of cats).
    But especially I don’t want to trade Christmas for a generic ‘happy winter holidays’. Christmas has been a staple for centuries that even non-religious people enjoy. I would never tell a hindu not to call diwali ‘diwali’ or not to celebrate diwali, actually I’d be happy to join. So while I can see where your frustration comes from, let us have a christmas Christmas. You can have Hanukkah and join the Christmas festivities too.

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