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Bring minty mocha home and leave calories behind

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 8:31 p.m. HST, Jul 15, 2013

I can't really afford the cash going out or the calories coming in, yet I continue to order the peppermint mocha at such coffee emporiums as Starbucks or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

It is among my top holiday indulgences — warm, festive and fun to drink. It's seasonal, too, which is doubly good as it retains its holiday aura and is not around all year to lead me into temptation.

All good things should come to an end, right? Nah.

A peppermint mocha is easy to re-create at home, where you can somewhat control the calorie count and tinker with the mint/coffee/chocolate/sugar mix.

A 16-ounce (grande) Starbucks version packs 440 calories and 19 grams of fat when made with whole milk, according to the company's posted nutritional information. You can order it with nonfat milk and cut it to 370 calories and 10 fat grams.

But following this "skinny" recipe adds up to just 180 calories and a single gram of fat, as long as you don't opt for the optional whipped cream on top.

Making it yourself is also a lot cheaper, although that comes with a caveat. If you don't already have peppermint extract or cocoa powder, those items can be pricey additions to your pantry. But once you have them, you can make mochas for a year. (I'm going to assume you already keep coffee in your house, or you wouldn't be considering this.)

The first step is to make a simple syrup, an easy brew of sugar and water normally used to mix cocktails. A little peppermint extract goes into the syrup. The usual ratio for simple syrup is 1 part sugar to 1 part water, but this version doubles the sugar, a better mix with the mint flavor. This is the only part that takes effort, but you can make a lot at once and keep it handy. The rest of the recipe is just pouring and stirring.

Now, if you are a Starbucks aficionado, don't expect an exact match with this recipe. Without an espresso machine or a way to froth the milk, you can't quite get there. But you can achieve minty satisfaction.


1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably dark cocoa
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup nonfat milk

» Peppermint syrup:
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

To make syrup: Bring water to boil in small pot. Stir in sugar. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear. Remove from heat. Stir in extract. Makes about 1 cup, enough for 12 servings. Can be refrigerated for a month.

Combine cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of the coffee in a large mug. Stir to dissolve cocoa. Stir in milk. Microwave 1 minute on high (or you can heat milk on stove first until steaming but not boiling).

Stir in 1 tablespoon mint syrup. Fill cup with remaining coffee.

Taste and adjust flavorings, adding more syrup, milk or coffee to taste. For a more minty flavor, add more extract to syrup, or add a drop directly to cup (be careful, it's strong). For more sweetness without more mintiness, add plain sugar. For a richer drink, add cream or half-and-half, or top with whipped cream. Serves 1.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (with no additional syrup, cream, half-and-half or whipped cream): 180 calories, 1 g fat, no saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 29 g sugar, 10 g protein


Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Email <@Tagline -- email1><@$p>.

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