Christmas is just over a week away!! I usually make a bunch of Christmas cookies, but this year I’m running a little short on time. I know, I’m only potty-training two boys and nursing an infant…what’s my problem? =-) So this year, I’m making candy!!
A few weeks ago we were at Costco and they were giving out samples of their peppermint bark. It was really good! If I am remembering correctly, they were selling one pound for $10! Needless to say, we didn’t buy any. But I did come up with my own recipe.
Chocolate is a touchy ingredient to work with. There are two main problems the home cook will encounter. The first is seizing—the chocolate will turn solid even at high temperatures and will become unusable. This is the result of the chocolate being heated to too high of a temperature or being exposed to moisture. Always be sure your equipment is completely dry. To avoid overheating, always use a double boiler for stove-top melting or microwave in short increments and stir well between heating times.
The second problem is bloom. Chocolate bloom is a white film that develops on the surface of the chocolate. There are many things that can cause bloom: improper or prolonged storage, cooling too quickly, improper heating, certain added ingredients. Regardless of the reason, bloom is harmless and does not affect the flavor; it just doesn’t look good.
The best way to avoid bloom is to temper chocolate. But tempering is a tedious process. The chocolate must first be heated to 113°F (45°C), cooled to 81°F (27°C), and then reheated to 88°F (31°C). I just don’t have the time to commit to the process at this time in my life. One of the great things about this peppermint bark is that chocolate is covered with a layer of white chocolate or vanilla so you don’t need to worry about tempering.
You can definitely use pure chocolate and white chocolate to make this peppermint bark. For the sake of time and cost, I use semi-sweet chocolate chips and vanilla chips. Not only are these options cheaper than chunks of chocolate or white chocolate, I also do not need to chop it and all the pieces are uniformly sized.
4 candy canes
1 lb. chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips
1 lb. white chocolate, chopped, or vanilla chips
1 tsp. peppermint extract
Unwrap candy canes and place in two zip-top bags. Use a hard tool to crush them; set aside.
Put chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Remove about 1 c. and set aside. Microwave remaining chocolate in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring thoroughly between heating times.
Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper to cover a cookie sheet. Use some melted chocolate from the spoon to secure the parchment to the sheet.
When all chunks are gone, stir in reserved chocolate. Do not reheat! Continue to stir until smooth. It is okay if a few little chunks remain. This may take a few minutes. Spread chocolate onto parchment paper. Allow to cool completely. This may be done at room temperature in the winter or in the refrigerator in the summer.
When chocolate is hard, repeat with white chocolate or vanilla chips. Stir in peppermint extract*; spread over chocolate.
Immediately sprinkle candy cane pieces over; gently press into white chocolate with spatula. Cut with a large knife while white layer is still slightly soft. If white layer hardens too much before cutting, the layers will split apart. Yield: 2 lbs. Total cost: $5.39.
Check out our chocolate caramel corn post for packaging options!
*I forgot to add the peppermint extract in this batch. I know, peppermint bark without peppermint. That's what happens when I try to do this kind of thing when the kids are awake. Anyway, it still tastes good!