Another nice gift to take your host or hostess when invited for the holidays is chocolate in some form. Last week I suggested and gave a recipe for Chocolate Crème de Menthe Brownies packed in a nice new 9-inch baking pan. This week I’m offering a recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Bark that makes 4 nice (6-ounce) packages.
Making this confection has many pitfalls, all of which I discovered by following others’ recipes. The biggest pitfall is finely chopping the peppermint, a hard candy. If you chop it up too coarsely, someone can break a tooth biting into the soft chocolate that contains a rock hard peppermint piece. It’s important to almost pulverize the peppermint candy and leave no piece bigger than 1/8 inch in any direction, long or wide.
But how to pulverize it? Some recipes suggest putting the peppermint candy or candy canes into a plastic bag and chopping with a rolling pin. I suggest you give that a try if you want a new hobby. It takes forever and never completely accomplishes the fine texture essential to the candy. The only effective way I found to do it is to break the candy canes or put the pieces of peppermint in a large food processor and process until almost all are finely ground: no single piece larger than 1/8-inch. The processor produces a fine “fog” of sugar, so be sure it is placed on a large surface area. After the peppermint is processed, dump the contents of the food processor into a colander with small holes (about 1/8 of an inch) that is placed over a bowl. Then sift and shake the peppermint through. You will be left with some large pieces of peppermint in the colander. Discard any that measure more than 1/8 of an inch in any direction.
Then measure out 1/2 cup and reserve it for the white chocolate part of the candy. (Save the rest in the plastic bag for baking.)
When you spray and line a 9 by 12-inch pan for the two layers of chocolate that make up the bark, be sure to leave an overhang of parchment at each end of the pan. That will allow you to lift out the candy onto the cutting board when it is completely set.
And now comes “breaking” the candy into irregular pieces. Again, another big ha.
Once the two-layer chocolate confection has set in the refrigerator it is almost impossible to break by hand. It needs to be scored, then cut, with a sharp knife.
All that being said, dark and white chocolate peppermint bark does make a lovely host/hostess holiday gift.
- 2 cups dark gluten-free chocolate chips
- 2 cups white gluten-free chocolate chips
- 8 ounces peppermint candy or candy canes, broken
- Spray a 9 x 12-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper long enough to extend over each end. Reserve.
- In double boiler melt the dark chocolate chips.
- While they are melting, place the peppermint candy or broken candy canes in a large capacity food processor and process until almost all pulverized. Transfer the candy contents into a colander with small holes (about 1/8-inch wide) set over a large bowl. Shake and sift the pulverized peppermint into the bowl. Then discard any pieces left in the colander that are more than 1/8-inch in any direction. Add the smaller peppermint pieces to the pulverized peppermint and stir to mix. Measure our 1/2 cup and reserve.
- When the dark chocolate has melted, scrape it onto the parchment-lined pan and spread as evenly as possible. Refrigerate.
- Melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler. When completely melted, stir in the 1/2 cup of finely processed peppermint.
- Spread the white chocolate-peppermint mixture over the cold dark chocolate. Return the pan to the refrigerator and let chill until completely hard and solid.
- Using the parchment paper ends, remove the bark from the pan. Discard the paper. Using a sharp knife to score the bark, chop/cut it into irregular pieces.
- Divide into 4 festive containers. Wrap in plastic. Tie with a bow. Refrigerate until ready to take with you.
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