Peppermint has been a popular flavour for thousands of years, with Jesus even making mention of it in the Bible. It was popular in Greece and Egypt and has been used in cooking and herbal medicine since 1500 BC.
These days, peppermint is best associated with tea, candy canes, after dinner mints, chewing gum and toothpaste. Yet for chefs, it makes a delicious pairing with dishes such as lamb, Vietnamese curries and Greek salads.
Peppermint is versatile and not restricted to just sweet or savoury recipes. Savoury dishes tend to call on fresh mint, while sweet dishes tend to call on peppermint extract or essence. When used as an essence, peppermint adds a distinct coolness to cakes, slices and drinks.
Peppermint and chocolate is the combination most people know well, and the pairing is as close to perfection as you can get. When combined with a rich, flavoursome cocoa, the mint lends a contrasting burst of freshness that is divine. Taste magazine said that the cool flavour is intensified when used in ice cream.