Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Goodies: Peppermint Bark

Christmas is just a few short days away, and I'm sure everyone is baking up a frenzy making holiday goodies, decorating the tree (I love our tree this year and the fact that we have a bay window to display it!), finishing up shopping and wrapping presents. Luckily I'm all done with my Christmas decorating and shopping. I was thinking about picking up one more thing for my parents, but not sure if I want to brave the crazed crowds. Instead, I'm spending my time indoors and trying out some new recipes.

Being that there's only two of us in our family, I have to restrain myself from making too many goodies. (Well, technically there's four of us, but my two dogs cannot have my baked goods!) I've found so many recipes I want to make this year, and I just want to keep using my new KitchenAid mixer on a daily basis, but I don't want to bake too much and feel obligated to eat everything I make. I don't want to have to buy new pants this Ch
ristmas! So I've been trying to find the most interesting and most holiday-ish recipes to try now, and to save the other recipes for later when the Christmas goodies have run out and we're craving some baked goods. But it's definitely taking restraint!!

This time around I decided to make peppermint bark. I love peppermint bark. The stuff from Williams-Sonoma is hands down the best. However, the price is a little too steep for me meager budget so I decided to make my own this year. I had a recipe saved from years ago cut out from some magazine of my mom's and used that for this first round of bark. It called for heavy cream in the bottom layer with the semi-sweet chocolate so it's more like a chocolate ganache than a hard bark. Not sure if I like that quality. I think I would like a hard bark more a
nd it also needs some more peppermint flavor. Overall, it's not bad, just not Williams-Sonoma quality!! Probably not even the quality of the stuff I could by at Target. No worries, I'll still eat it. It still tastes like peppermint bark, just not the best it could taste!

I would love to make another batch and try something different to improve, but I realized my husband hasn't even tried any. I wish he would have told me he didn't like peppermint bark! At least I only made half a batch!

Peppermint Bark
12 oz. high quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Bakers, it was the best I could find)
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tsp. peppermint extract (I think this is where Williams Sonoma gets the best bark; they use peppermint oil!)
12 oz. high quality white chocolate (also used Bakers)
Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

How To:
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil smoothing out the wrinkles
In a microwave safe bowl carefully melt the semi-sweet chocolate and heavy cream making sure to not burn the mixture (I used 50% power). When fully melted stir in the peppermint extract.
Pour melted chocolate mixture on aluminum foil using a rubber spatula to spread into an even layer. Place chocolate in freezer for about 10 to 25 minutes to harden.
Melt the white chocolate in the microwave carefully. Pour the white chocolate over the hardened semi-sweet chocolate. Spread carefully with spatula to not swirl the chocolates.
Press the peppermint candies in the white chocolate.
Refrigerate until very firm, about 2 hours, then break into chunks.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

If you know of a better recipe let me know. I'll try it next year! I'm determined to make a delicious batch of peppermint bark!!

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