Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Peppermint Bark

After tasting some commercial peppermint bark, we decided to make our own! Last year's attempt was delicious but hardly as pretty. When we poured the hot white chocolate onto the warm dark chocolate, it all started melting together and came out more of a swirly milk chocolate color. This year, we theorized that if we let the dark chocolate totally set (with the help of our freezer) then quickly spread the white chocolate across the top before it could all melt together, we might create the beautiful layered effect one finds in the store-bought variety.

All would have gone smoothly, if we hadn't thought it was a good idea to add cream to the white chocolate. Apparently we don't deal with chocolate enough, but I immediately realized what was happening (thanks to Alton Brown's "Good Eats") that the chocolate was "seizing" and then promptly began "separating" (it looks pretty gross). In a panic, I turned to The Joy of Cooking which told me, if this happened, to add "1/2 teaspoon of vegetable shortening per oz of chocolate." So we lowered the temperature and began spooning in the shortening until it returned (sort of) to the proper texture. I don't think this was actually the right solution. According to Alton Brown, we probably should have added more liquid (which I also should have warmed first.) Needless to say, I will not include these instructions in the recipe because it just complicated things. Honest. In the end, it all tasted fine.

The process is really quite easy if you don't screw up like we did. And it is SO delicious and decadent. We put in a teaspoon of peppermint extract, but I am going to recommend less because it is quite potent. I can't wait to try this with other flavors... orange perhaps?

Happy Holidays!

Peppermint Bark

11 oz bag of dark, bittersweet chocolate chips (make sure cocoa butter is a main ingredient)
11 oz bag of white chocolate chips (make sure cocoa butter is a main ingredient)
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
2 candy canes, crushed into roughly sprinkle size bits

1) In a double boiler, melt the bittersweet chocolate until smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Pour out hot chocolate onto wax paper and spread out until about a 1/16 of an inch thickness. Immediately place in freezer for about 1 hr or until fully hard and set.
2) In a clean double boiler, melt the white chocolate until creamy (it will be thicker and harder to work with than the dark chocolate). Remove dark chocolate from freezer. Pour white chocolate onto dark and quickly spread until evenly coated. Sprinkle candy cane over the top. Return to freezer for at least 30 minutes or until set. Remove and break apart into 1 inch pieces. Store in airtight container (we store ours in the fridge).

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