Tuesday, December 14, 2010

White chocolate peppermint bark

Snow snow snooooooow!  A few inches here in Pittsburgh and it's still coming, along with brutal winds!  I'm talking minus 2 windchill on my walk to work.  Thanks to my trusty red umbrella, I was able to shield myself from the worst of the blasts :)  A quick Google search revealed that I'm not the only umbrella-toting winter-loving red accessory-carrying person out there.

So, while it snows outside, I bake up a storm inside!  Though this hardly constitutes baking, more like melting and stirring.  Peppermint bark is a favorite around the holidays.  You'll see tins of the stuff everywhere and in all shapes and flavors.  What's the one thing they all have in common?  They are all seriously overpriced!  $18 for a small one pound tin of peppermint bark?  Get real!  Once you see how easy it is to make a batch of your own, you'll never buy the pre-made stuff again.

The great thing about making your own, well, anything, is that you can make it exactly how you like.  It's a dirty little secret of home cooks and bakers -- we are a bit picky when it comes to food, so we do it ourselves :)  There are two basic kinds of peppermint bark: the first starts with a layer of dark chocolate, followed by a layer of white chocolate and topped with crushed candy canes.  The second, my personal favorite, involves a layer of white chocolate enhanced with peppermint extract and crushed candy canes both within and on top of the chocolate.

I always make the second kind, because, well, I love all things peppermint, and I feel like regular chocolate gets enough attention around the holidays.  This is so easy to make!  Seems like that's the theme around here these days... Anyway, it makes a great gift or party snack and is just so pretty when packaged.  But don't save this just for others, make some for yourself, too.  Pair with some hot chocolate for a luxurious after dinner (or breakfast?) treat.  Ready for this?  It's as simple as:

1. Crush candy canes, with rolling pin and bag or mini food processor:

2. Melt chocolate:

3. Stir in peppermint flavoring and candy canes, quickly spread onto parchment paper:

4. Chill for 45 minutes.  Break into smaller pieces and enjoy!  Wait, smaller than this?  Says you... ;)

One Year Ago: Cinnamon bread

Peppermint Bark

A few notes: If you prefer to melt the chocolate in the microwave, a word of caution -- use 50% power and 15 second intervals, stirring between each burst of heat.  White chocolate can burn very easily (I know, I've done it a handful of times) if you become impatient or negligent.  Also, crush the candy canes to your liking.  Some prefer large pieces in and on top of the chocolate; I prefer smaller pieces and crumbs mixed into the chocolate.  It's up to you!

2 pounds good white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon peppermint extract
1 (6 ounce) package candy canes, crushed

Line a large baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper and set side.  Fill a large pot 1/4 full with water and bring to a gentle simmer.  Place a glass (heat safe) bowl over the opening of the pot, making sure that the water doesn't reach the bottom of the bowl.  Reduce heat to low.

Place white chocolate in bowl and stir constantly until melted and no lumps remain.  Remove bowl from top of pot to counter and quickly add peppermint extract, tasting and adding more if preferred.  Stir in crushed candy canes and immediately pour onto lined baking sheet.  Spread to a thickness of 3/8 to 1/2-inch and, if topping with more candy, sprinkle and press gently to set.

Chill chocolate on cookie sheet in fridge for 30 to 45 minutes until solid and hard.  Remove and break into pieces (like peanut brittle) and store in a cool place for up to 2 weeks.

*If sending with a cookie tray, put bark in a separate bag, unless you want peppermint-flavored everything.

1 comment: