Monday, December 17, 2007

Peppermint Bark

I have been busy in the kitchen this past week, making yummy Christmas goodies!! All of the recipes that I tried this year were new, and they all turned out so great.

First I made some peppermint bark, using a great recipe I found at epicurious.com. It is really quite simple, but it can be a little time consuming as there are 3 layers of chocolate, and you have to wait until each one sets before you add the next. But they are so pretty and SO tasty. The recipe yields 36 pieces, but I found that those would be very big pieces, and they are very rich, so I opted for about 60-70 smaller pieces. I used Guitard white chocolate and bakers semi-sweet for the first batch, and then both bakers white and semi-sweet for the second batch, and both were absolutely delicious. I think I do prefer the Guitard white, but that might just be because I did more taste tests on that batch! :) I also found, that you don't need to use as much peppermint extract as it calls for, a little goes a very long way. I actually ran out of extract (except for a drop or two) after my first batch, so I just kept the pan that I melted the first batch of semi-sweet in, to mix with the second batch, and then added the drop or two left in the bottle, and it was plenty pepperminty. The candies also add plenty of peppermint flavor as well. There are also lots of great tips in the review section on epicurious, which were helpful. The biggest one that I found, was that when people kept it in the fridge too long after the last layer, before you cut it, it was really hard to cut, and often times the layers would split on them. So about 25 minutes was just perfect for me.



I definitely plan on making this every year for my goody plates. Good luck and enjoy!

**Updates 2009**
I just finished making my peppermint bark for my holiday goodies, and after 5 batches. some of which were not great, had some tips that I wanted to share with you, as well as remember for myself.

Tip 1: do not attempt this recipe with only 2 layers. The dark chocolate layer with the cream will be too soft, it needs a backing layer. I tried 2 layers and when I tried to remove it from the foil, I left half of it behind because it was too soft to stay together on it's own. Still tasted good, but looked terrible.

Tip 2: when adding the 3rd layer, the 2nd layer of white chocolate, make sure to re-heat the white chocolate, even if it is still spreadable. On my second batch, I decided to skip the reheating to save time (like 5 minutes) and it wasn't warm enough, so it didn't adhere to the dark chocolate layer. so when I went to cut it, the layers split because they never bonded. Despite what you may think, it is important for the layers to melt into each other a bit, so that they are bound. Of course, we don't want the dark bleeding into the white, so you have to make sure that you have enough white to cover those areas where they do melt together and mix a little. Even if you do get that happening a little, by the time you get the crushed peppermint on, and cool it and then break it, you can hardly notice those tiny little areas that didn't get completely covered. I read a tip from another blog that suggested letting the chilled layer sit out for a bit before adding the next layer, and then once you do add it, let it sit for 10 minutes or so before putting it into the fridge, just to give the layers more chance to bond together.

Tip 3: Instead of using foil, I would use wax paper, or even a silipat screen, or whatever those things are called. You really need something that will peel from the back of the chocolate easily to reduce the amount of touching of the chocolate you need to do, and just to reduce frustrations! ;)

Tip 4: If your finished peppermint bark is too soft, it makes it really difficult to cut. I had to keep putting my 3rd batch back into the fridge for a few minutes before cutting more because it was sticking to the knife and pulling the bark into an unshapely mess.

Tip 5: This is just a guess, because I have never tried it, except with the 2 layered bark I made for my mom, but I think if your layers are properly melted and bonded together, if you left it in the fridge for an hour or longer, and then went to break it, if you prefer the uneven look, the layers shouldn't split. I will have to try this next time, as I do enjoy the broken look. It worked with my moms, which was melted together nicely, so I don't see why it wouldn't work with 3 layers.

Tip 6: After having tried it both ways, I have found that it really is better to use the back side of the cookie sheet, versus the regular side... especially if you don't have an offset spatula. I had no way to smooth it out and make it nice because my mom just had a flat cake spatula, not offset. I also had the edge curl up when I did it on the regular side. When I did it on the back side, I put pam on the pan, and then laid the wax paper over that so that it wouldn't slide around, and it worked perfectly.

2 comments:

ryan, maren and leah said...

why am i not your roommate anymore? these look delicious!! thanks for sharing...

Alicia said...

Hi, I was blog surfing and came across this post, so I made these. I didn't have any white chocolate on hand but I did have quite a bit of milk chocolate so I did a substitution. WOW! These are amazing. I got many compliments on them and they are so easy. I gave them away for Holiday treats and I am sure I will make these again next year. Thanks for the recipe.