it's okay to play with your food

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Edition, Part 2

I realize that by this point in the season, many people are tired of sweet things, chocolate things, buttery things, etc. But this recipe for Peppermint Bark is definitely worth a look and a try-out.

I often make truffles of some variety over the holidays, but I was urged by a co-worker to try Peppermint Bark. I was totally up for the challenge. After all, these are something of a specialty food item, sold at Williams-Sonoma for between $27 and $53. I figured there must be something daunting and special about the process of making them, right?

Turns out, the ratio of tastyness to difficulty is actually something like 10 to 1. And people love it! It's delicious and looks festive as a gift or displayed on the holiday dessert table.

I found a recipe on epicurious but wasn't 100% happy with it, so my slightly modified version is below. Obviously, the better quality chocolate you use, the better your bark will turn out. I was trying to work on a budget, however, and trying to keep things simple, so I ended up using Nestle chocolate chips. The result was still a big hit, though I can imagine these would be devastatingly good with a serious chocolate (Callebut comes to mind).

Peppermint Bark
Modified from the Layered Peppermint Crunch Bark on

18 ounces white chocolate chips
4-5 candy canes, coarsely crushed (I put them in the empty bag of white chocolate chips and broke them up with a can of coconut milk)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Turn large baking sheet bottom side up. Cover securely with foil. Melt 2/3 of the white chocolate in the microwave (2-3 minutes on 50% power seemed to work best.) Pour melted white chocolate onto foil. Using a spatula, spread chocolate to create a rectangle, about a 1/4 of an inch thick. Sprinkle with half of the crushed candy canes. Chill in the freezer until set, about 15 minutes.

Stir semisweet chocolate, cream and peppermint extract in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Pour bittersweet chocolate mixture over white chocolate rectangle. Using spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate in even layer. Freeze until very cold and firm, about 20 minutes.

Melt remaining white chocolate in microwave (about 1-2 minutes on 50% power). Working quickly, pour white chocolate over firm bittersweet chocolate layer. For me, it was half drizzling and half smoothing out globs of chocolate. Immediately sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.

Using metal spatula, slide bark off foil and onto work surface. Using your hands, break the bark up into serving pieces. Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature before serving. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Chill in airtight container.)

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