Friday, February 22, 2013


   This recipe comes from www.madincrafts.com .  This is for all of you that miss those chocolate mochas from Starbuck's, after the holidays are over.  Enjoy!

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Knockoff (with Homemade Chocolate Mint Syrup)

starbucks peppermint mocha recipe square
Do you remember how I told you I was going to share a yummy way to use up my herb garden mint? Time to make good on that promise.
chocolate mint
If you have ever grown mint, you know that it is an “aggressive grower” A.K.A. even Jess can’t kill it. Despite my brown thumb, my chocolate mint plant has been producing like crazy, so I needed to find a good way to put it to use.
What better way than to make some yummy chocolate-chocolate mint syrup?
chocolate mint leaves
For the recipe, you will need about 30 mint leaves. I didn’t actually count mine out, but I am pretty sure I had a good 3 dozen. Rinse them and pat them dry with a paper towel.
torn mint leaves
Next, rip the leaves into small pieces. Rip, don’t cut. You want to bruise and beat up the leaves as you go. This makes the mint release more of its oily goodness.
Oily goodness isn’t a term I use often.
swampy deliciousness
In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of white sugar, 3/4 cup of water, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (I used my beloved Special Dark)and the torn mint leaves. I know that this picture resembles Shrek’s swamp, but it smells way better than ogre farts.
chocolate mint syrup recipe

Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sugar is all dissolved. Let the syrup cool.

strain out the mint leaves
Strain the syrup into a jar or plastic container. I used to have a nice mesh strainer, but I gave it to my 3 year old to play with and now it’s rusting in the backyard somewhere. So, I improvised by stabbing some small holes in the bottom of plastic baby food container. Whatever works, right?
The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, so drizzle it on ice cream, make chocolate-mint milk, or treat yourself to one of my favorite coffee drinks.
starbucks peppermint mocha knockoff recipe
I love Starbucks Peppermint Mochas, but not only are they expensive, Starbucks only carries them around the holidays. You can use your homemade chocolate mint syrup to make your own at home!
The homemade syrup provides the “coat your mouth chocolatiness” of the Starbucks version because it is made with cocoa powder. Regular Hershey’s syrup will work, but not as well. And it won’t be all minty fresh.
To be really decadent, you can top the coffee with whipped cream and sprinkles. If you know you are going to have one of THOSE days (like for instance you are putting your obstinately un-potty trained 3-year-old in underwear for the whole day for the first time), go ahead and use ice cream instead of the whipped cream.
I won’t tell.
Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Knock-Off
3 T. chocolate-mint syrup
1/3 c. warm milk (or steamed, if you’re fancy)
6 oz. strong coffee
whipped cream and sprinkles (optional)
Mix together syrup and milk. Pour in coffee. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles.


Dark Chocolate Candy Bark

   Chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, malted milk balls, or your favorite candy bar can be the star of this easy Christmas candy-bark recipe. If you're not big on dark chocolate, use white chocolate instead.

Dark Chocolate Candy Bark

  • 6
    ounces chocolate-flavor candy coating, chopped (1 cup)
  • 6
    ounces dark chocolate, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1
    tablespoon shortening
  • 2
    cups chopped assorted chocolate candy bars, such as chocolate-coated caramel-topped nougat bars with peanuts, chocolate-covered English toffee, chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, or malted milk balls
  • 1/2
    cup salted peanuts, chopped
1.Line a large baking sheet with heavy foil; grease foil. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl combine candy coating, chocolate, and shortening. Microwave, uncovered, on 100 percent power (high) for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate melts, stirring every 30 seconds.
2.Stir 1 cup of the assorted chopped candy bars and the peanuts into melted chocolate mixture. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Spread mixture into an even layer about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup chopped candy bars; lightly press pieces into chocolate.
3.Chill about 30 minutes or until firm. Use foil to lift candy out of pan. Using a sharp knife, cut candy into pieces.

To Store:
  • Layer pieces of candy bark between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
White Chocolate Candy Bark:
  • Prepare as directed, except substitute vanilla-flavor candy coating for the chocolate-flavor candy coating; chopped white baking chocolate for the dark chocolate; and chopped, toasted slivered almonds for the salted peanuts.


   The Sapporo Snow Festival is a famous festival held annually in Sapporo, Japan, over 7 days in February.  Currently, Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome are the main sites of the festival.  The 2011 Yuki-matsuri dates are February 7th to the 13th.
   The festival is one of Japan's largest and most distinctive winter events.  In 2007, about 2 million people visited Sapporo to see the hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures at the Odori Park and Suskino sites, in central Sapporo, and the Satoland site.  The festival is thought to be an opportunity for promoting international relations. The International Snow Sculpture Contest has been held at the Odori Park sit since 1974, and teams from various regions of the world participate.

   The subject of the statues varies and often features as event, famous building or person from the previous yer.  For example, in 2004, there were statues of Hideki Matsui, the famous baseball player who at that time played for the New York Yankees.  A number of stages made out of snow are also constructed and made out of snow are also constructed and some events including musical performance are held.  At the Satoland site, visitors can enjoy long snow and ice slides as well as a huge maze made of snow.  Visitors can also enjoy a variety of regional foods from all over Hokkaido at the Odori Park and Satoland sites, such as fresh seafood, potatoes and corn, and fresh dairy products.

   Every year the number of statues displayed is around 400.  In 2007, there were 307 statues created in the Odori Park site, 32 in the Satoland site and 100 i the Susino site.  The best place to view the creations is from the TV tower at Odori Park.  Most of the statues are illuminated in the evening.  The Sapporo Snow Festival Museum is located in the Hitsujigaoka observation hill in Toyhira-ku, and displays historical materials and media of the festival.


   The Snow Festival began in 1950, when 6 local high school students built 6 snow statues in Odori Par.  In 1955, the Japan Self-Defense Forces form the nearby Makomani base joined in and built the first massive snow sculptures, for which the Snow Festival has now become famous for.  Several snow festivals existed in Sapporo prior to the Sapporo Snow Festival, however, all of these were suspended during World War II.
   During the Energy crisis of 1974, snow statues were built using drums.  This was due to the shortage of gasoline which  caused  many of the trucks that were used to carry snow to the site,  were unavailable, due to the shortage and rationiong of fuel.  In that same year, the International Snow Statue Competition started and since that year many snow statues built by teams from other countries have been  featured; especially from some of the sister cities of Sapporo,  such as Munich Germany.

   In years when the accumulated snowfall is low, the Self-Defense Force, for whom participation is considered a training exercise, brings in snow from outside Sapporo.  The Makomanai base, one of three main sites from 1965, hosted the largest sculptures, with a emphasis on providing play space fro children.  Use of the Makomanai site was suspended in 2005 and moved to the Sapporo Satoland site located in Higashi-ku in 2006.  In 2009, the Satoland site was moved to the Tsudome (Sapporo Community Dome) site.  The Tsudome, located close to the Sapporo Satoland, is a dome for multiple sport events.
    Nakajima Park was established as one of the festival sites in 1990 however, it was removed as a site in 1992.  The thrid site, known as the Suskino Ice Festival, is situated in the night life district of Susukino and includes predominantly ice carvings.  The site was approved as one of the festival sites in 1983.  Every year, the IcSuskino Queen of Ice, a beauty contest, is held at this site.