One of my favorite things about December is embracing all things mint. We add that glorious flavoring to hot cocoa, brownies, cookies and most definitely cake. This cake in particular features four moist layers of dark chocolate cake and a delicate minty buttercream slathered between the layers. The cake is covered in chocolate buttercream and topped off with a mint-green chocolate curl for both decoration and an extra boost of mint flavor. Check out the decadent recipe below.
I know I love the cooling effect that a midsummer Mojito has on my system, but I didn’t realize that mint in general is a great antidote to hot weather. It makes sense, considering how popular mint tea is in arid countries like Egypt and Morocco. I’m not sure I’ll be drinking hot mint tea anytime soon, but I’ll definitely be adding this soothing herb to my summer fare.
In the morning I’ll use it in Food Network Magazine’s Mint Limeade (pictured above). For a post-work treat I’ll toss it into a bourbon-spiked Mint Julep. While I normally think of basil when I think of pesto, Giada’s Pea and Mint Pesto Crostini is an inspired take on the classic. For a completely no-cook appetizer, Paula’s Watermelon Salad With Mint Leaves is the best bet. It’s simply dressed in olive oil and red wine vinegar, then sprinkled with feta cheese and mint.
It’s time to move mint beyond juleps and mojitos.
Because in the U.S., mint has struggled to land on the dinner table. We tend to associate it with sweets (after all, it does pair nicely with chocolate) and breath mints.
But elsewhere in the world, especially North Africa, the Middle East and Asia, mint is used to lend a crisp, almost peppery contrast to savory dishes, especially fatty ones (think lamb with mint sauce).
First, the basics.
You’ll find mint sold with the other herbs in the produce section, often in large bunches that you’ll never manage to entirely use. No worries — it’s cheap.
Most of the mint sold in American grocery stores is spearmint or peppermint, just two of the many varieties (that grow like weeds) available. It should have a mix of large and small leaves that are bright green and firm.