It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around my house! The tree is up, the halls are decked, and it’s time to get to my favorite part – candy making and cookie baking!
Peppermint bark is ridiculously easy to make if you know how to temper chocolate. Tempering chocolate can actually be rather complicated and tedious but I’m going to walk you through an easy way to get the job done for home candy making. The reason it’s so important is that dark or milk chocolate, when not properly tempered, will lose its snap, its gloss, and may develop unsightly white spots. White chocolate, when overheated, can seize up and become very clumpy and grainy. Once you know the basics, you can easily make almond bark, cashew bark, etc. and use chocolate for dipping various candies and cookies.
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped or baking chips
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
12 mini candy canes or a few regular size ones
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking pad. Or, you know, use your marble slab you have lying around. I kept mine on the pantry shelf this time around, way too much trouble. If you have a solid countertop that stays cool such as marble, quartz, or stainless steel you can skip the pan and lay the parchment/silicone directly on the counter.
In a double boiler on medium heat, melt 7 ounces of the semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate over, not sitting in, the water. Stir often, making sure the chocolate doesn’t get too hot until it is melted and smooth.
Remove from heat, add in remaining 3oz chocolate and stir until smooth. Continue to stir until it becomes glossy, thick, and does not feel warm to the touch, but close to body temperature (95-100 degrees).
(Believe me, I could get a lot more complicated with this and talk about “crystallizing”, but I’m not going there. In my experience, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Just don’t let it get too hot!)
Pour on to the prepared surface.
Spread out to approximately 1/4-inch thickness and let it harden. If you’re a purist and your room is cool you may leave it out, but I stick it in the fridge cause I want to get on with my life.
Meanwhile, break up those candy canes! I put them in a large zip-lock bag and pound them with a metal mallet. Just make sure they don’t get too powdery.
I wait until the dark chocolate is set before I begin melting the white chocolate because it can be a bit temperamental. Using a double boiler, melt it over, not sitting in, water on medium heat. Stay with it, stirring often with a rubber spatula, until it’s about three-quarters of the way melted. It’s very important that it does not become too hot.
Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in peppermint extract.
When it is close to body temperature (95-100 degrees) to the touch, pour on top of the dark chocolate…
and sprinkle on crushed candy.
Make sure you lightly press the candy into the white chocolate before it sets – I failed to do that this time and much of it fell off.
Place the pan back in the fridge until it’s set.
Break into pieces and be a hero to your friends… in my case, my nieces who demand it every year.
‘All I need is a reindeer…” The Grinch looked around. But, since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found. Did that stop the old Grinch…? No! The Grinch simply said, ‘If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!’ So he called his dog, Max. Then he took some red thread, and he tied a big horn on the top of his head.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas