Thursday, December 20, 2012

Peppermint Bark.

I couldn't tell you what prompted me to make my first batch of peppermint bark. Honestly. I'm trying to figure out how I stumbled on the recipe and am coming up blank. What I do know is that it's become a hit among all my friends and family. Even Erik loves it, and he hates sweets. And now I'm going to tell you how to make it.

Spoiler alert: it's suuuuuper easy.

What you'll need:

  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 bag of white chocolate or vanilla-flavored candy melts (from the craft store)
  • 20ish peppermints
  • Microwave-safe container or double-boiler (depending on how you want to melt the chocolate)
  • 9" x 13" pan or whatever you want to put it on/in
  • Something with which to crush the peppermints
I personally prefer Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips, but you can use any brand and use milk or dark, depending on your tastes. I don't advise using white chocolate chips from the grocery store because they seriously don't melt well. The candy melts are meant for melting and I don't really notice much of a taste difference. You could also use chocolate candy melts to make the whole thing easy-breezy, but I dislike the taste of milk chocolate candy melts.

Alright, step one is to unwrap those mints and double-bag them in Ziplock baggies. Then take out all of your stress and frustrations by crushing the shit out of them. My weapon of choice is this ... hammer meant for pounding out meat. (TWSS.) I suppose you can use a real hammer or maybe a rolling pin?

You want more smaller pieces than bigger ones. Basically, anything you see that you wouldn't want to bite down on, crush it. But you still want non-tooth-cracking pieces to make it look pretty. Separate it into equal parts.

Step two: melt the chocolate. I use the microwave because I'm the laziest person ever, so I throw it all in a two-cup glass measuring cup and heat it up in 30-second intervals. Make sure to stir in between and don't overcook it, because then it seizes and you can't use it.

Pour into your pan and spread evenly to the edges. Or, if you don't have a pan or don't want to use it, you can also use wax paper on a baking sheet and just spread it into a thin-ish layer. Or, be super adorable and put it into molds or cookie cutters!

Then sprinkle one half of the crushed peppermints over the top. Stick it in the fridge (or someplace cold, I've used my garage when I have no fridge space) for about fifteen minutes(?) and find something to do... like drink wine and take ridiculous iPhone selfies.

The timing is flexible; once it looks and feels really solid, you're ready for step three. But don't take it out of the fridge/garage/cold place until you're ready with the next layer. Step three is very similar to step two, except this time you're melting the white chocolate candy melts. I find that a whole bag is a little too much, so use like, three-quarters of the bag. Repeat step two - melt, pour, spread, cover in crushed peppermints, and put it back in the fridge.

At this point I usually leave it overnight. You'd probably be okay with an hour, just to make sure it's really hard (TWSS, jeez). Take it out and let it sit for five minutes, then flip it out of the pan and attempt to break it in pieces. Guys, this is the suckiest part because the peppermints hurt my hands every time. That's why I started putting it in molds.

For a variation, you can definitely reverse the order of the chocolate and put the white on the bottom - sometimes I like this better because with the small cookie cutters, when I add the hot white chocolate, the milk chocolate melts a little underneath and starts to swirl in. However, I've also seen people do a single-layer peppermint bark with just white chocolate or a milk-and-white chocolate swirl.

This is seriously the most addicting Christmas snack ever and I forget how much I love it until I make it every year. I hope you take a crack at it because it really is pretty simple and so, so yummy!