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The following is part of an Organic Living Journey Guest Post Series written by Mariana who has a mother’s heart and scientist’s brain.
Last week, we talked about the differences in organic chocolate and conventional chocolates. Organic chocolates guarantee an additive-free ingredients list in addition to toxin-free ingredients. (If you can’t choose organic chocolates, opt for one that doesn’t use cheap additives and fillers.) Today, we’re going to “organic-fy” one of the season’s favorite coffee beverages: the Peppermint Mocha!
What’s in a Peppermint Mocha?
– steamed milk
– chocolate (cocoa powder sweetened with sugar and made into a syrup)
– peppermint syrup (a sugar syrup with synthetic peppermint flavor added)
What’s Hiding in a Peppermint Mocha?
– synthetic flavors (natural or artificial), there’s no real peppermint in the peppermint mocha!
– preservatives (sodium benzoate)
– LOTS of sugar (54 grams in a Grande, yikes!)
A grande size peppermint mocha will cost about $5. We’re going to whip one up for a small fraction of the cost! With organic ingredients! And better flavor!
Step 1: The Milk – starting with a quality milk (organic, pasture-raised if you can get it) warm it or steam it until it’s slightly scalded (a little steam coming off the surface but not boiling). If I don’t have access to an espresso machine, I usually warm the milk and whisk the heck out of it until it begins to froth. A small handheld frother like the Aerolatte ($18) is handy to have if you love making homemade coffee drinks and don’t want an upper body workout every time you have to froth milk (plus the clean up is way easier).
Step 2: The Coffee – use a good quality (organic) coffee and brew it as dark as you can. A “grande” Peppermint Mocha takes two shots of espresso. Don’t have access to an espresso machine? No problem. Before buying an expensive (albeit wonderful) espresso machine, consider investing in a moka pot. For just $25, it makes a stovetop espresso that will substitute easily. Using brewed coffee? This will change the recipe a bit, and the amount of coffee and milk you need for the Mocha will vary. This is one factor you’ll have to play with a bit as you build your recipe. (Personally, if I’m using brewed coffee instead of espresso, I like to use steamed half & half instead of milk so the drink stays more creamy and not watery.)
Step 3: The Chocolate – Here’s where the fun begins. Starbucks adds a chocolate sauce to their Peppermint Mocha. We will too, except our ingredients will be organic and natural. This is one opportunity to cut (or substitute) those 54 (54!!!!) grams of excessive sugar. You have two options. Option 1: sweetened chocolate sauce. Option 2: unsweetened chocolate sauce. I tried it both ways, and found that I needed a little extra sugar in my finished coffee when I used the unsweetened chocolate sauce. But if you like your drink less sweet, this is a great option to have. Recipes below.
Step 4: The Peppermint – to finished off the flavor, we’re going to add some homemade peppermint syrup. Starbucks’ peppermint syrup is made with refined sugar, preservatives, and synthetic flavorings. We’re ditching both and opting for more natural (lower glycemic) sugars and pure extracts. To make this, we start with a basic simple syrup recipe (equal parts water and organic sugar or coconut sugar) and add a bit of organic peppermint extract. Recipe below.
Why make separate chocolate and peppermint syrups? You really don’t have to, but I did because I like having the chocolate syrup on hand separately from the peppermint syrup. Sometimes I need one but not the other. Sometimes I “need” LOTS of chocolate flavor, sometimes not so much. You get the idea. If you want to combine these two, start with simple syrup and add cocoa powder (equal parts sugar, water, and cocoa powder) and a smidge of peppermint extract (you can always add more extract later if the flavor isn’t strong enough).
A Note About Simple Syrup: this is the place where homemade is going to make a big difference. By using organic sugar or coconut sugar, you can significantly cut the glycemic index of your drink! Refined white sugar has a glycemic index near 90, organic sugar around 45, and coconut sugar around 35. To cut calories without resorting to artificial sweeteners, you can use stevia or erythritol, but you will have to play with the recipe a bit to get it to your tastes.
Step 5: Put It All Together In a mug, add the chocolate and peppermint syrups and add the hot espresso on top. Stir it all together and then add in the hot milk. Top with whipped cream (optional) and chocolate shavings if you want to get extra fancy.
Organic Peppermint Mocha Recipe
3 tablespoons organic chocolate sauce (sweetened or unsweetened, recipes below)
3 teaspoons organic peppermint syrup (recipe below)
2 shots of organic espresso (or strong coffee to taste)
1 – 1.5 cups steamed organic milk
organic whipped cream (optional)
organic chocolate shavings (optional)
Add more or less chocolate and peppermint to taste.
Organic Unsweetened Chocolate Sauce Recipe (1:1 water:cocoa ratio)
3 tablespoons unsweetened organic cocoa powder
3 tablespoons hot water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix until smooth.
Organic Chocolate Syrup Recipe
½ cup water
½ cup organic sugar (or coconut sugar)
½ cup organic cocoa powder
1-2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract (to taste)
Note: this recipe will make 1 – 1.5 cups of chocolate sauce. Why so much? You can use this sauce for mocha drinks, ice cream topping, or for making chocolate milk. Want less? Just change the amounts, keeping the original 1:1:1 ratio.
In a saucepan, add first three ingredients and simmer and stir until sugar has dissolved and sauce has thickened just a tiny bit. Do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Store in a clean, glass jar in the fridge for up to three months.
Organic Peppermint Syrup Recipe
¼ cup water
¼ cup organic sugar
½ teaspoon organic peppermint extract
In a saucepan, combine water and sugar and cook over low heat to dissolve the sugar and let the syrup begin to slightly thicken, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add peppermint extract. Store in the fridge for up to three months.
Not a coffee lover? If you still love the flavor of chocolate and peppermint, leave out the coffee, increase the chocolate syrup, and enjoy a peppermint hot cocoa. It’s delicious and kid-friendly!
I hope you enjoy this all-natural, delicious upgrade for your Peppermint Mocha! Next week, we will be kicking off the new year with a look at conventional vs. organic grains. What are the differences? Are organic grains a priority? Is there a way to save money on buying organic grains? This is going to lead into making organic breads and baked goods at home on a budget (both financial and time).