Brrr... there's a chill in the air and the holidays are right around the corner. No matter if you're just cuddled up in a blanket watching Christmas movies or coming in from holiday shopping, make up a mug of this fast and super rich hot chocolate! Check out the variation at the end... a shot of something extra to warm you up fast!

delicious peppermint hot chocolate recipe by Martie Duncan


Makes 2 large mugs


2 1/2 cups milk (use whole or skim, whatever you like)

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

3 tablespoons sugar

6 squares (3 ounces) 60 % Cacao dark chocolate, chopped 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

dash salt

4 soft peppermint candies or 2 soft peppermint sticks, crushed fine + 2 peppermint sticks for garnish

1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream


Put the candies in a plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin or mallet. Set aside. Put the milk in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Put the cocoa in one of the mugs. Add a bit of the hot milk and stir until it becomes smooth, adding more milk to thin it out. Add it back to the saucepan. Next, add the chopped chocolate and stir until it is completely melted. Let the chocolate heat through, stirring constantly. Add the crushed candies and stir until they are melted. Pour into mugs and drizzle a little heavy cream on the top. Garnish with a peppermint stick, whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa, marshmallows, or even more crushed candies... whatever you like and your diet can afford!

Variation: Add a shot of brandy, vanilla vodka, chocolate or white chocolate liqueur, coffee liqueur, or peppermint schnapps to your mug for some extra warmth!

FOR A CROWD: I make the hot chocolate in a pot and then transfer to a slow cooker for serving. Makes temperature control and serving so easy!

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For several years, this has been the most popular cocktail recipe on my blog and it is also one of my favorites to make during the holidays...  I think almost everyone has a peppermint bark addiction during the holidays. I cannot wait for it to come out in the stores each holiday season. This martini has the same smooth white chocolate flavor with a peppermint kick. Try these for your annual Christmas party or for sitting by the fire after a long day of holiday decorating or shopping. A rim of crushed candy canes or a candy cane stirrer is the perfect garnish. Uh-- p.s.... these are pretty strong.


Makes one


 1 ounce vanilla vodka ( I usually keep my in the freezer to keep it really cold before serving) 

1 ounce Godiva White Chocolate Liquor

½ ounce peppermint liqueur (peppermint schnapps or white crème de menthe will work)

Splash of heavy whipping cream


Garnish the martini glass with mini candy canes or crush peppermint bark or candy canes to rim the glass. To rim, dip the edge of the rim into the liqueur and then dip into the crushed bark. Chill.

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients and shake until really cold. Pour into chilled glass.

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One of my favorite holiday traditions with my mom was starting our holiday baking the day after Thanksgiving. We always made spiced fruit cake cookies but we'd have to buy the ingredients over a few weeks so we could afford them. I remember the anticipation of watching the shelf fill up with the candied fruit: pineapple, cherries (yes, even the green ones) and how excited I was when we finally got the last ingredient. I still love those cookies... and they hold so many memories for me. 

I know. You hate fruitcake. I'm pretty sure I don't like most of them but I promise you these gorgeous little fruitcake gems are so addictive and delicious, you will not want to wait a whole year to make them again. These are the same mugs we used for Christmas Eve cocoa way back then.

Holiday Fruitcake Cookies Martie Duncan.jpg


Makes about 6 dozen depending on how large you make them.


1 pound candied red cherries

1 pound candied pineapple

1 pound candied green cherries

6 cups pecans, roughly chopped

1 pound dates, chopped

2 tablespoons dark run (optional- but you need to up the orange juice if you omit)

3 cups plus 1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup Crisco shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

slight pinch kosher salt

3 teaspoons baking soda

3 tablespoons milk

4 eggs (room temperature)

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon nutmeg


The day before: chop the dates into small pieces and put them in a glass bowl. Add rum. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit overnight to absorb the rum. You can leave this step out if you want but I find it makes the dates more delicious and the cookies have more flavor.  

Preheat oven to 375. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Get out 2-3 cooling racks.

Dice the candied fruit into small pieces and place in a very large bowl; I use the top of my cake carrier. Roughly chop the pecans and add to the fruit. Add the dates. Add one cup of the flour. Toss well to coat all of the pieces and break them up so they are not sticking together.

Next, whisk the baking soda into the milk and let it dissolve.

Mix the Crisco into the fruit. Add the remaining ingredients: sugar, remaining flour, salt, nutmeg, eggs, orange juice and milk with baking soda into the mixture.  Mix together with your hands but just until you no longer see the flour. Try not to over mix. The batter will be very dense. Use a small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons to drop the cookies onto the prepared pans, about 1 inch apart. 

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the wire cooling racks.

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