Chocolate peppermint bark and dipped treats are customer favorites during the holidays at Ingram’s Candies in Troy. Beth Ingram, of Ingram’s Candies, said she includes peppermint flavor in the chocolate of her famed peppermint bark, not just on the topping.

Chocolate peppermint bark and dipped treats are customer favorites during the holidays at Ingram’s Candies in Troy. Beth Ingram, of Ingram’s Candies, said she includes peppermint flavor in the chocolate of her famed peppermint bark, not just on the topping.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki


A twist on the sweet seasonal standard: peppermint

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published December 5, 2018

METRO DETROIT — From our décor to our lattes, it seems that as soon as the calendar flips to December, our hearts go out in search of candy canes.

There’s something about the taste of peppermint that’s not only indicative of the season, but also serves as sweet nostalgia of cozy holidays gone by. So why not load up on some sugary, minty, red-and-white goodness while you can?

That’s what Kate Ullman says. The Madison Heights home baker majored in pastries at Oakland Community College’s Culinary Studies Institute. This time of year, when she puts her sweets skills to good use making holiday treats, she uses a couple of tricks of the trade to incorporate peppermint.

“For most recipes I use pure peppermint oil — cakes, cookies and frosting. Start with small amounts,” she said. “If I’m looking for texture in a recipe, I’ll add crushed candy cane on top or mix it in at the last minute.”

Sometimes using real peppermint candy can be as fun as it is flavorful, she said.

“You can also add peppermint candies into things. Andes mints mixed into buttercream for fillings, or Junior Mints for a rich peppermint hot chocolate,” she added.

Speaking of peppermint candy, Beth Ingram is ramping up production of her chocolate peppermint treats over at Ingram’s Candies in Troy. Packages of her famous peppermint bark fly off the shelves in December for folks in need of a quick and impressive gift.

“I infuse the peppermint oil into the dark Belgian chocolate base, not just a peppermint top,” Ingram said. “The flavor is amazing. I’m a huge mint fan, and it’s huge this time of year, even though I make it year-round.”

Along with Ingram’s peppermint bark, the store boasts white chocolate-covered peppermint pretzels and huge chocolate-dipped peppermint marshmallows.

“I wouldn’t have thought to put the peppermint chocolate on a marshmallow, but a customer suggested it, and it’s actually phenomenal.”

For a childhood treat with a grown-up peppermint twist, Mark Cooney has been brainstorming some new cocktails featuring the traditional flavor. He’s a senior bartender at Detroit’s Wright & Co. bar and restaurant in Detroit, with a few national honors under his belt for his innovative concoctions.

“Generally, customers will come in with an idea of what they’re looking for as far as drinks, but it’s always fun to persuade them into branching out of their comfort zones with new cocktail ideas and flavor combinations,” he explained.

He decided to do a little digging into why peppermint is historically associated with Christmas — there are a few theories. But Cooney liked the explanation put forth by famed psychopathologist Sigmund Freud that theorizes that peppermint is associated with the human — ahem — amorous experiences. The same goes for cranberry, representing fertility. Eventually, those ideas translated into ingredients that represented the Passion of Christ and Christ’s birth.

His cocktail, aptly named Lovecraft and Witch Hearts, featuring cranberry, lime and carbonated peppermint tea, could be part of Wright & Co.’s permanent menu in 2019, but the experience of sipping still says merry and bright, Cooney said.

“It’s bitter, with a hint of orange,” he said. “Calming and reflective.”


LOVECRAFT AND WITCH HEARTS

• 2 ounces white rum, infused for 24 hours with muddled cranberry
• 1/4 ounce white sugar simple syrup
• 1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
• 1/4 ounce Campari
• 2 dashes barrel-aged bitters

Combine the ingredients and top with carbonated peppermint tea. Garnish with whipped cream, a mint spring and fresh cranberry.