Mint is a controversial and divisive flavor in sweets. Some find it delightful and refreshing. Others find it reminiscent of toothpaste. But during the month of December, it appears everywhere. Why is mint attached to the holidays? It possibly goes back to the medieval European custom of chewing on mint leaves to freshen the breath after meat-heavy yuletide meals. Why do people like to combine it with chocolate? Perhaps it’s because chocolate makes everything better. And now, all over Chicago, bakers, confectioners, and ice cream makers are busting out their best chocolate mint treats for the season.
Aya Pastry: Milk buns filled with custard are a staple at Aya. The flavors change seasonally, and right now it’s time for peppermint mocha. The buns are available only in the Aya storefront in West Town, not at any of the bakery’s wholesale customers.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits: Bang Bang’s s’mores pie gets a holiday makeover in Logan Square. There’s still the graham cracker crust, milk chocolate ganache, and marshmallow meringue topping, but there’s also an additional layer of minty white chocolate and crushed candy canes sprinkled on top.
Chocolat Uzma: Uzma Sharif incorporates international flavors into her truffles and chocolate bars (including Moroccan mint), but for the holidays, the Pilsen-based chocolatier created minty mini-marshmallows hand-dripped in chocolate and covered with crushed candy canes.
Firecakes Donuts: Firecakes has four locations in the city and the suburbs, and they’ll all be carrying the seasonal hot chocolate doughnut, a classic cake covered in a layer of fudge with a pink peppermint marshmallow covering up the hole.
Katherine Anne Confections: For the holidays, Katherine Anne in Logan Square has created a chocolate peppermint marshmallow, which fans might expect, but also a chocolate mint caramel: a chocolate caramel with a dab of peppermint oil and a candy cane coating.
Lickity Split Frozen Custard: This frozen custard and candy shop, which has locations in Edgewater and West Ridge, offers peppermint as its flavor of the month for December. Try it in a hot fudge sundae, or order it blended in a peppermint bark concrete with white chocolate chips, dark chocolate syrup, and crushed peppermints.
Mindy’s Edibles: A strong mint can leave a buzzy feeling on the tongue, but Mindy Segal’s dark chocolate peppermint bark gets its extra kick from cannabis extract. Some cannabis-enhanced chocolate can taste funky, but this could be mistaken for a very good rendition of the regular stuff, so be careful: it’s potent. See the website for a list of dispensaries where it’s available.
Pretty Cool Ice Cream: For many Chicagoans, the ultimate mint isn’t an Andes Candies or a York Peppermint Patty but a Frango mint, forever associated with the late, lamented Marshall Fields, although the mints are now manufactured by Garrett Brands. Pretty Cool Ice Cream recreates the creamy mint chocolate flavor of a Frango in its seasonal Mint Meltaway Pop: chocolate mint ice cream in a green mint shell. The pops are available at the pick-up window in Pretty Cool’s Logan Square shop.
Sugargoat: Have you every wanted to serve your loved ones a cake decorated with Santa’s ass? Thanks to Stephanie Izard’s crew in West Loop, now you can! Sugargoat’s Santa’s Chimney Shimmy cake has a peppermint chocolate base slathered with candy cane buttercream and topped with a red-clad posterior.
Veruca Chocolates: Mendiants are a French treat, a disc of melted chocolate topped with fruit or candy, named after the mendicants, or orders of wandering beggar monks. This month, Veruca’s dark chocolate mendiants are covered in a layer of crushed peppermint candy and are available at the factory store near the Clybourn industrial corridor.