Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eat: Peppermint Bark

I recently volunteered to contribute to my very first PTA bake sale.  I planned on baking some cookies and reveling in the satisfaction of finally being a full-fledged grown-up.  Then the bake sale coordinator e-mailed to thank me in advance for my donation of baked good and something she called "candy treats."  And so, because I am not quite a full-fledged grown-up, I panicked.

Candy involves thermometers and, as far as I know, a whole lot of mystery, and yet, I didn't want to fall short of proving myself a responsible community member and sufficiently devoted mother.  So, I did some research and came up with a "candy treat" that is suitably festive, but requires no thermometer and less effort than a pan of brownies: Peppermint Bark.

This recipe is so easy that, despite my lifelong aversion to candy canes, I've already made it twice.  Little E and my husband like the white chocolate and Big E and --much to my surprise-- I like the dark.  It is very reminiscent of a Thin Mint, the only minty food worth eating.

Peppermint Bark

1 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips
1 12 oz. bag dark chocolate chips (60% cocoa Ghiradelli chips worked well)
12 candy canes

Line two  9x12 pans with foil.

Unwrap the candy canes and put them all in a large zip top bag.  Place the bag on a cutting board and then use a mallet or rolling pin to smash them into pieces.  This is very satisfying, particularly at this time of year.  You don't want the pieces too large, but you also don't want to turn them all to dust.  Stop when the largest pieces are no longer than they are wide.

Put a colander over a bowl and in the crushed candy canes, stirring and shaking so that only the larger pieces remain in the colander and all of the smaller bits and dust is in the bowl.

Melt one bag of chips by microwaving for a minute, stirring, then microwaving in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is smooth.  The white chocolate will need more aggressive stirring than the dark, as its consistency tends to be on the chalky side.

Once the chocolate is melted, stir in half of the small candy cane bits and dust from the bowl, then pour and spread the chocolate into the lined pan.  Sprinkle half of the bigger chunks from the colander over the melted chocolate, lightly pressing them in so they are firmly affixed.

Repeat with the other bag of chips.  Refrigerate both until solid, about 45 minutes. 

Finally, remove them from the refrigerator, peel the hardened chocolate from the foil  break into pieces.  I made mine roughly 2"x2", which seemed a reasonable serving size.

The simple preparation made them a good Christmas "cooking" project to do with the kids on a weekday afternoon, and packaged in little cellophane bags, they made a passable "candy treat" for the bake sale.  And panic-free.

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