Every year, right around this time, I manage to make a recipe that helps me completely undo any sort of diet or exercise that had been helping me stay somewhat slim for the holidays. This year, I may abandon my running shoes altogether, sit down and eat this homemade peppermint bark every single day until I die.
I made a double batch of peppermint bark over the weekend while thinking about edible gifts for my in-laws. One of my SIL's LOVES the William-Sonoma peppermint bark. She'll settle for Trader Joe's brand, but I really wanted to give her the quality of WS without the hefty price tag.
I decided I needed to start by finding the best quality chocolate I could get my hands on. If I wanted quality bark, I needed quality chocolate. I went to a local restaurant supply store called Surfas, where I picked up a solid Callebaut Milk Chocolate brick (1 pound), Callebaut White Chocolate Discs (2-pounds), a container of crushed candy canes and a 4-ounce bottle of pure peppermint extract. Yes, I spent almost $30 on supplies alone. BUT, 3-pounds of the best chocolate ever will get you several batches of the BEST peppermint bark EVER, so stay with me on this.
I started by chopping up my 1-pound block of milk chocolate into smaller, uniform pieces. I then put these pieces into a make-shift double-boiler (if you don't have a double boiler, just put a heavy pot of water on the stove and top it with a copper or stainless bowl.) As the chocolate melted from the heat of the steam below, I stirred constantly to ensure an even, silky melt.
When the chocolate was just melted, I poured it out onto a rimmed cookie sheet that I had lined with aluminum foil and two layers of wax paper.
I tilted the cookie sheet around, to ensure that the milk chocolate had fully coated the bottom of my pan. When it looked like the chocolate had settled evenly, I placed the cookie sheet into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
As the milk chocolate layer hardened in the fridge, I washed my stainless bowl and began the double-boiler process all over again with the white chocolate discs. When the white chocolate was ALMOST completely smooth and melted, I took the milk chocolate pan out of the refrigerator and set it on the counter. I'd read that any condensation might prevent the layers from adhering, but it was a VERY dry day when I was making my bark, so there was hardly any moisture in the air, or on my milk chocolate later. Then, I added one teaspoon of the peppermint extract to the melted white chocolate (still melting on the stove), gave it another few stirs, and poured the white chocolate directly on top of the solid milk chocolate layer.
I swirled and tilted the cookie sheet again so that the white chocolate would cover the entire pan. Then, I sprinkled the full surface of the white chocolate with my store-bought candy cane pieces. You can of course just throw some candy canes in a bag and beat them with a rolling pin.
I placed the cookie sheet of milk and white chocolate back into the fridge for 20 minutes, and when the top layer had cooled completely, I lifted an edge of the aluminum foil, pulling the bark upward, while pressing down on the bark with a piece of wax paper and a good bit of pressure from my other hand. This broke up the bark nicely.
The peppermint bark smelled amazing; cool, chocolaty, and oh so minty. I had to try a piece immediately. And another, and another, and another. Each bite was more divine than the last.
I brought a generous-sized container over to my Sister-in-Law and her family to sample and they RAVED over this peppermint bark. Mind you, they are tough critics, but not a single piece was left untouched. Children were fighting over the last minty crumbs, adults were distracting children to sneak one last nibble... it was blissful, chocolate-coated anarchy.
We all agreed that using the "good stuff" was a good move. And while I doubt that the 3 containers of peppermint bark I currently have in my refrigerator will last until Christmas, I guarantee that I will make this recipe again, and again, and again....