Ok, I confess. I love Starbuck's peppermint mochas. Not only are they delicious, but they feel like a part of my holidays. How many times have I been out shopping with friends during the holiday season and stopped for a peppermint mocha? I swear, having one makes me feel like Christmas - I think of walking through the snow on a cold, crisp clear winter night.
This weekend we got our first bit of snow. I was watching the big fat flakes coming down turning my lawn white, when I had a sudden craving for peppermint chocolate-y goodness. For a brief moment I considered getting my first mocha of the season, but then I thought about my budget. You know, this is a small thing really, only $4.00 or so, but I felt it was one of those little pivotal moments. I could have decided I couldn't have one, been depressed and felt deprived. I could have patted myself on the back for not giving in to expensive high calorie huge corporation chocolate peppermint coffee crack. But, being me, I didn't do either.
I didn't have any pre-made hot chocolate mixes, of course, but I did have a tin of Hershey's cocoa, a bottle of peppermint extract, soy milk and coffee beans. The rest was easy. In my big pink travel mug I added the ingredients for a single serving of hot chocolate as described on the back of the Hershey's box. Basically it is cocoa, sugar, pinch of salt and vanilla.
Then I made a cup of strong coffee in my French Press. A few loosely ground coffee beans, some hot water and 4 minutes later, I had a a hot cup of joe. This I poured into my mug, filling it up to about two thirds.
The last third of the mug I filled with soy milk. I love the creamy slightly nutty richness of it. I always order my peppermint mochas made with soy, so this was my nod to tradition.
Finally I added a 1/8th of a teaspoon of peppermint. This was the same quantity as the vanilla extract called for in the Hershey's recipe. I stirred well and wallah! My very own home brewed peppermint mocha. It was fabulous, though honestly, it was a bit too much peppermint. (I love peppermint, but it was a rather strong. Next time I will just put in a few drops.) Sure it wasn't a Starbuck's latte and it didn't have foam or little red sprinkles, but it tasted mighty good and cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $.18 and 4 minutes of time. (I've stood a lot longer in line.)
Here's the real moral of the story though - just because I can make my own, doesn't mean I might not splurge on one if I am out holiday shopping with friends. I believe in small splurges and even more, I believe in good times with friends. Just because I am financially struggling, doesn't mean I have to completely deprive myself. What was it May West said, "Moderation in everything - including moderation"? However, because I am financially struggling I can make it a rare treat, not a weekly (or worse yet daily) habit. And now, if I am craving a peppermint mocha on a random Saturday afternoon, I can just whip one up in my kitchen rather than wasting time, money and gas to buy one at a chain.
One of the bloggers I read recently (and I really wish I could remember who - I'd give credit where it is due) wrote that one way to save money is to make your favorite dinning out dishes at home. There are tons websites that have copycat recipes out there. Just because you are trying to be more financially responsible, it doesn't mean you can't have the things you love. It just might mean that you get to enjoy them at home instead... without the gum chewing waitress or small child kicking the back of your seat.*
Copycat Recipe Sites:
Copycat Restaurant Recipes
Top Secret Copycat Recipes
*Then again, maybe these are perks of your home!
Photo of deliciousness by: dugasj