The Story of my Peppermint Bark

It’s so easy that there’s hardly any point in posting a “recipe” for this, but it’s so good that it’s worth pointing out: two layers of melted chocolate topped with crushed candy canes makes a yummy brittle candy that’s difficult not to finish in one sitting.

Start with good dark and white chocolate. You want enough for about one cup of each, whether that’s in chips or shavings. I used half a pound each of Callebaut semi-sweet and white chocolate (sold in one-pound blocks at Whole Foods), chopped with a knife into chunks no bigger than about half an inch. Since you’ll be eating it pretty much straight, better quality chocolate corresponds directly to a better final product.

Melt about a cup of the dark chocolate chunks. Use a fancy double boiler if you like, but honestly, it’s just as well to use a two-cup Pyrex in the microwave. Melt it one minute at a time at 60% or 70% power, stirring just enough to determine how smooth it is. After two or three rounds in the microwave, it should be very smooth. It should also be very hot. Don’t stick the spoon straight into your mouth if you hope to enjoy your work later.

Pour the melted dark chocolate into a nine-by-thirteen pan lined with parchment paper. The paper is a little clumsier than foil, but it won’t try to stick to your candy when you try to break it apart. Use a spoon that hasn’t been in your seared mouth to spread it into a thin, even layer across the bottom of the lined pan.

While the dark layer cools and hardens, put four or five peppermint candy canes in a plastic bag and smash them up with a mallet, a heavy glass measuring cup, or a saucepan. You’ll get a fine powder quite easily, but you don’t want to pulverize everything. Stop when the largest pieces are about the size of Chiclets.

When you’ve exhausted your frustrations upon the candy and your roommate’s nerves, set the candy aside and melt the white chocolate. For white chocolate, 60% power and a minute at a time should get it melted in about two minutes. White chocolate melts more quickly than dark chocolate, and it also burns more easily. If two minutes in the microwave doesn’t do it, keep trying in fifteen-second increments. Seriously, it won’t take long at all.

By now, the dark chocolate should be solid enough in the pan not to mix up with the white chocolate. Pour the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate as evenly as you can. Spread it gently until it covers the dark chocolate completely.

If you want to flourish it by swirling the dark and the light, now would be the time. I prefer not to do so, because it’s going to be hidden by the candy canes anyway.

When the white chocolate is laid out in the pan, you can decide for yourself how to apply the peppermint candy. One approach would be to use a strainer to sift the finest of the candy cane dust onto the top of the chocolate. Another would be to sift the fine particles into something else, then lightly apply only the larger pieces of candy to the chocolate. You could also sift the dust into a bowl, put on the bigger pieces, and then sprinkle the dust over everything. I actually sift the dust onto the chocolate first, and then put the candy on top of that, because it’s the easiest.

If you use the bigger pieces at all, you’ll want to push them slightly into the white chocolate with the back of a metal spoon to be sure they stick. If you don’t, they’ll shake off when you break the candy apart later.

Once everything is in the pan, put the pan into the fridge. In an hour or two, pull it out! Lift the candy from the pan by the paper and break it down into small pieces with your hands — no mallets or saucepans are required. As you snap it into bite-size chunks, lay them neatly into a quaint old-fashioned glass jar. When the jar is full, put a pretty ribbon on it and present it to your grandmother. The remainder you can shove directly into your own face.

Fun facts: In the fifteenth century, peppermint candy sticks were popular with French monks for their stomach-settling properties. Two hundred years later, the Germans developed the cane shape for hanging on trees, apparently after an appropriate hook shape could not be made of sausage. Two hundred years after that, the Swiss developed white chocolate for having all of the fat and none of the cocoa of dark chocolate. Today, white chocolate doesn’t contain enough cocoa to be considered chocolate by the Food and Drug Administration, but most dark chocolate in the U.S. contains more paraffin than cocoa.

2 Responses to “The Story of my Peppermint Bark”

  1. Renée Says:

    I shall now set off slaving over the hot stove so that I may impress my husband’s co-workers with delightful little treats all tied up with ribbons. Providing it doesn’t all get shoved into my face before ribbon time. :D Thx for an easy recipe!

  2. Andrea Says:

    Thank you for the simple recipe! I love Whole Food’s version of this but alas, we have no WF within a 3hr radius. This recipe sounds easy enough that even I can do it.