Thursday, December 06, 2012

Simple and Delicious Family (Holiday!) Cooking: Homemade Dark-Chocolate Peppermint Bark

So, you know that fancy peppermint bark seasonal candy that snobby gourmet retailers like Williams-Sonoma sell for an outrageous amount of money? Um, yeah, you can make that yourself. And it's so easy you won't believe you EVER paid any store, ever, no matter the price, for a tin of it. Because believe me, making it at home will always be cheaper than buying it from a shop.

True, homemade might not look as perfect and pretty as the overpriced kind from the shops. Although perhaps if you've made it more often than I have, you've mastered the technique for making it appear as amazing as it tastes. But if not, trust me, NO ONE WILL CARE. It is SO yummy.

Holiday Dark-Chocolate Peppermint Bark

1 (11-oz.) bag white chocolate chips
1 tsp. peppermint extract (Note: this is different from MINT extract. Try to find the peppermint.)
2/3 to 1 cup crushed candy canes or starlight mint hard candies
8 oz. (or so) dark/bittersweet chocolate chips

To make your crushed peppermints, put unwrapped candy canes or starlight mints in a sturdy Ziploc. Using a heavy rolling pin or a hammer, pound the candy in the bag until you have irregular chunks and bits (don't crush to the point of powder if you can help it!).

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.

In a microwaveable glass bowl, empty entire bag of white chocolate chips. Microwave for 30 seconds, then check to see if the chips are stir-able. (They probably won't be at this point.) If not, return bowl to microwave and continue to cook for 15 seconds at a time, checking after each period, until chips are shiny, soft, and can be stirred but are not totally melted. In fact, to prevent burning the candy, which is very easy to do, be sure some of the chips are still in chip shape. As you stir, any non-melted chips will melt into the rest, leaving you with a totally smooth melted white chocolate mixture. This may take some stirring time, but it WILL smooth out.

Once your melted white chocolate is smooth, add peppermint extract and most of the crushed peppermint candies to the white chocolate. (You can add all the crushed candy if you prefer. I like to save some out to sprinkle onto the dark chocolate later.)

Spread the white chocolate mixture onto the paper-lined sheet, getting it as thin and smooth as you can.

As you can see, I didn't get my white chocolate layer very thin this time. That's OK. It doesn't matter what shape this layer is. Just get it on there and spread it out. Put the baking sheet in refrigerator until the white chocolate-peppermint layer is hard.

In a different bowl, melt the dark chocolate in the same way that you did the white. Once melted, quickly spread the dark chocolate onto the hardened white layer, covering entire surface.

(Next time I make this, I will try harder to make thinner layers. This bark ended being really thick. However, treat recipients will probably be thrilled! After all, they're going to get nice hefty pieces of candy!)

Optional step: sprinkle dark chocolate layer with the remainder of the crushed peppermints before the chocolate has firmed up.

Place baking sheet back in the refrigerator to fully harden. When hard, break candy into pieces. Store in refrigerator or freezer. Makes a great gift--even if it's just from you to you.

1 comment:

tricia*kushman*anderson said...

Good detailed post : ) I am not a sweet tooth and now I'm gluten and dairy free (hence my skinny factor!) so I would have to alter all these recipes......OH WAIT! I don't bake/make candy!!! hahaha Good for you Shannon! The recipients of all these treats will love you!