Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fresh Peppermint and Recipe Ideas


I love the flavor of mint: peppermint, spearmint, tea mint... it's all good. In addition to tasting great, it sure does look spectacular this time of year when it is in full bloom! And, the bees absolutely love the stuff too, which is great for attracting those ever-necessary pollinators to our garden area, and it also makes a great addition to simply enhance the biodiversity of our yard in general.

In addition to using peppermint in very simple gluten-free recipes, like peppermint tea from scratch, I like to incorporate mint, as an accent flavor, into a variety of recipes - particularly dessert recipes.

There are a few easy ways to go about incorporating fresh mint into recipes. First, you can brew unsweetened mint tea using the mint, and then use that resulting tea as a 1:1 substitution for water in some recipes (if you have a recipe that already uses water, this is a very simple substitution) - or, use it in perhaps a more diluted ratio depending on your personal preference. Next, you can always just mince, chop, or finely shred the fresh mint and measure it into a recipe; or perhaps you will prefer completely drying the mint and then grinding or powdering it for a very fine texture that is less detectable in recipes. And, sure, you could use the purified mint-oils, but extracting the oil is a bit too much trouble for me personally, as I would just purchase it that way if I needed it.

Now, if you too like the flavor of mint coupled with chocolate (as I do!), one of my favorite things to do is mix mint into things like decadent chocolate tortes and create a "French Mint" type torte. I have a chocolate (well, mocha to be exact) torte recipe in my book that lends itself to such modification, by simply substituting the brewed mint-tea for brewed coffee. The result of a mint-substitution here is quite nice, as it makes for a simple variation for anyone that may not enjoy mocha / coffee (I also perform substitutions using orange peel and berry-flavors in that recipe too, with or without coffee.)
Note: The recipe I am referring to is on page 100 - here's a link to the gluten-free mocha tart picture from the book that uses a sponge-cake base, though the picture is rather annoyingly watermarked in that online version. :)
Some of the gluten-free chocolate cake recipes or brownie recipes allow for nice chocolate-mint variations too. Depending on the recipe, I may simply add finely minced fresh mint with no other alterations required; others take a bit more work, but usually it is rather easy coming up with a winning flavor combo. I'm sure you can experiment and discover some favorite gluten-free recipes of your own that feature fresh mint.

You are certainly not limited to combining mint with chocolate, as there are quite a few other combinations that work well and produce a nice refreshing flavor. I have enjoyed mint with berry flavors quite a bit if kept subtle, and mint with other fruits too. And, though my focus has been desserts here, mint also comes into play nicely in some tasty Asian dishes. All I know is that the fresh-mint season is coming to a close soon, and it is time to use some of this season's crop while it is here and I can enjoy it.

3 comments:

The Gluten-Free Homemaker said...

Thanks for the ideas. I'm going to try the mint tea in chocolate cake. Do you dry or freeze your mint for use in the winter?

Angie said...

Awesome! I love having mint tea with chocolate and just discovered your mint tea from scratch recipe, which I'm going to try 'cause I just got a delicious-looking bunch of fresh mint from the farmers' market. You have a lot of great stuff on your blog, and I'm going to have to check out your cookbook. Best of luck,

Angie
http://gluten-dairy-sugarfree.com

Mike Eberhart said...

gf homemaker,
I have dried the mint before, which leads to something that can easily be used at a later date for mint tea. I have not yet frozen it. Though, I have frozen Basil successfully before, so I presume it would be similar for mint. Good luck with the mint-tea/chocolate-cake... sounds good to me :)