Pick-me-up peppermint mocha

Pick-me-up peppermint mocha, a closeup on the mound of whipped cream with green and red sprinkles

Last week was a bad week. It’s toward the end of the semester, so final projects are coming in for grading, support requests that probably should have been dealt with calmly weeks ago are suddenly urgent, and planning for the next semester is in high gear, with the current one not even over. Combine that with a continued parade of awful current events, and by Thursday evening I had completely run out of my ability to handle the world. So before settling in for The Wiz, I threw together this little pick-me-up.

A pick-me-up peppermint mocha in a glass mug, resting on the top of a tiered wooden plant stand

Okay, that’s a lie. I actually concocted the basic method before Thanksgiving, after a sample bar of holiday prepared foods at my local grocery — accompanied by jaunty keyboard renditions of music from The Wizard of Oz — put me in the holiday spirit to make semi-fancy drinks, listen to the new Adele album, and invent some sweet-sour squash. But what’s a little narrative liberty between internet-friends?

So, where were we? Right, yes: bad day, whipped up this delightful little treat. Even pulled out the colored sugar, because there’s no sense in going halfway.

Timelapse comic: three images in a row, showing a glass mug with chocolate chips and half-and-half in the bottom; the same mug, now with melted chocolate and a small whisk; the same mug, with a stream of coffee pouring in from above the shot

Now, let’s be clear: this is not a peppermint mocha like you’d get in a coffee shop. It’s a little more seat of the pants, shall we say — no espresso here. No, this is for the days when you’ve just about had it, and the thought of putting real pants back on is way too much to bear, but you think you might just remember seeing that old bottle of peppermint extract in the back of the spice drawer, next to the twist-tied baggie of chocolate chips. Bazinga.

So when you just need to say “no thank you” to life for a little bit, just fire up the Mr. Coffee, scrounge a couple of last year’s baking supplies, and make a pick-me-up peppermint mocha. Just don’t play the Adele, maybe? You’re in a delicate state already.

Pick-me-up peppermint mocha, doing its best cat impression — that is to say, nestled among a crowd of houseplants that fill the frame of the image

Pick-me-up peppermint mocha

  • Servings: 1 mug
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A quick-fix fancy coffee drink for the days when the world gets to be just the teeniest bit too much.


4 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp half-and-half
6-10 oz. brewed coffee (depending on the size of your mug)
1/16 tsp peppermint extract
Whipped cream, sprinkles, etc., to serve


One-sixteenth of a teaspoon? Seriously? Yeah: seriously. A whole eighth tasted too harsh — peppermint is strong. If you don’t have a sixteenth-teaspoon measure (because you’re a normal person), just eyeball it into an eighth teaspoon.


Combine chocolate chips and half-and-half in a microwaveable coffee mug; microwave on high for thirty seconds, then whisk until smooth.

Alternately, heat the half-and-half on the stovetop until steaming, then pour over the chips in the mug; let sit 2 minutes, then whisk smooth.

To the mug, add coffee and peppermint extract, stirring to combine.

Top with whipped cream, sprinkles, colored sugar, whatever makes you happy.


Without the peppermint extract, this is a perfectly lovely mocha.

I went with half-and-half because I’m all about fatty dairy. But if you’d like, you can use pretty much any fat level, all the way down to skim milk. Be aware that you may need to increase the amount of milk to get the same amount of creaminess/whitening; just play with it.

If you have a stovetop espresso maker (or for that matter, a true countertop espresso maker) feel free to swap that in, perhaps also making a dairy substitution as above if you’re not interested in an octuple shot mocha, bless your overcaffeinated heart.

Go even more over-the-top with a tot of Bailey’s, or bourbon, or dark rum, or even some Grand Marnier for the orange-mint combo.


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