It’s hard to stay away from holiday treats and Peppermint Bark is no exception. Williams-Sonoma features a Peppermint Bark during the holidays that has to be, if not the best, one of the top two or three. But at $29.00 per pound, well, I have to say, I can’t afford it. Neither can my waistline so it’s probably better that way. Between eggnog, coquitos and peppermint bark, December is usually the time of a losing battle for me. I tried my hand at making my own bark and after quite a few attempts have come to a few conclusions. Since most days in south Florida range from the high-70’s to the mid-80’s, chocolate is NOT going to firm up on your counter. And if there is any humidity what so ever, and here there always is, the crushed peppermints will weep, bleed and stick all over everything. I yearned for the “snap” of commercial chocolate when broken apart and learned that tempering chocolate is not enough.
Tempering chocolate produces glossy, flawless chocolate that when bitten into breaks off with a snap. Essentially, you’re raising and lowering the temperature of the dark, milk or white chocolate in order to make it behave properly…melt in your mouth not in your hand. I tempered chocolate all day long yesterday and between the rain and heat of the day let’s just say ain’t no “snap” in MY chocolate! That said I will move forward and skip the tempering process. I also discovered that a decent quality white chocolate must be used, one high in cocoa butter. White chocolate chips do not melt. At least not for me. Not in the microwave, over a double boiler or in the oven. So. Get thee good quality chocolate bars, for instance Guittard, not chips, especially when melting white chocolate. When melting the chocolate make absolutely certain that not one drop of water comes into contact with it as it will seize up and become unworkable. Take your time melting it. Chocolate is delicate and can become grainy and lumpy if melted too quickly over high heat. The water in the double boiler should be kept at a simmer and should never touch the bottom of the chocolate bowl as it can scorch easily. As the chocolate begins to melt, stir frequently with a rubber spatula. Take the bowl off the pot when the chocolate has almost completely melted and only a few small lumps remain. Continue stirring off the heat until smooth. I also found leaving the candy cane crumbles in a closed baggie will keep it from weeping and sticking to everything like all your fingers, the counter and the floor instead of the darn bark. And last of all move fast. Have your tray or large baking sheet well covered with parchment paper. Pull out a wooden skewer and keep it close to the baking sheet alongside the crushed candy cane. Merry Christmas!
- 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
- 1 pound white chocolate bars, chopped or broken into pieces, NOT chips
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup crushed candy canes
- Place 1″-2″ of water in the bottom of a double boiler or pot and bring to a boil. When the water comes to a boil drop the temperature and let water simmer.
- Place the semi-sweet chocolate in a bowl which fits snugly over the top of a pot or sauce pan.
- With a rubber spatula stir the chocolate until almost completely melted. Take off of the heat, add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract and continue stirring until shiny and smooth.
- Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and smooth to the thickness and shape you desire using an offset spatula.
- Melt the white chocolate in the same manner. When the white chocolate has melted completely, add 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, mix in well and spoon over dark chocolate leaving space in between the chocolates.
- Using the blunt end of a wooden skewer, make designs and curlicues in the two chocolates by dragging the skewer from the middle of the candy to the outer edges.
- Sprinkle the crushed candy canes evenly over the bark and chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or until hard.
- Break the bark slab into pieces and chill until serving.