Happy New Year! Hope you had a fantastic holiday and are ready for a great year of making things in 2018. It seems somewhat fitting to start off with a solution for all of the uneaten candy canes you might have lying about, now that it’s really, really time to take down those holiday decorations, sigh. I love decorating with candy canes (something about the bright red and white against natural greenery appeals to me), but I’m a lot less interested in eating them now that I’m an adult. Perhaps that’s because they lack chocolate?
Well say hello to peppermint bark, an easy and incredibly delicious way to use up old candy canes, or new ones, actually, and I bet those star mints would also work fine here…ummm, so many ideas. In any case, peppermint bark is quick to make and keeps well in an airtight container, although I must confess that I haven’t actually ever stored it for very long. It also makes a great gift for the colleagues who did your vacation cover or for anyone you didn’t have a chance to catch up with in December.
What you will need:
- baking tray or casserole dish that is about 11″ x 17″
- double-boiler or a pot with a bowl set over it
- parchment paper
- 6 peppermint candy canes
- 12 oz bag of white chocolate chips or a 12-16 oz (500 grams) bar of white chocolate
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
How to make it:
Due to what seems to be a primal calling I have to be ridiculously efficient in all things, I keep trying to crush the candy canes while the chocolate is melting, but it’s really much less stressful if you just break the candy canes first. Chocolate needs to be supervised while melting because it changes if you let it go too long or don’t stir it enough and the temperatures from the top of the bowl to the bottom of the bowl vary greatly. Multi-tasking while working with chocolate is just added stress no one needs.
Putting everything in the less-stress order:
- Cut out a sheet of parchment paper that will line the entire baking tray, including up the sides, then just set it on the counter.
- Unwrap the candy canes (I’ve tried it both ways and it is much easier to unwrap before breaking) and put them onto one half of the parchment paper.
- Fold the other half over the candy canes and hold the sides and/or corners down with anything handy.
- Tap the candy canes fairly lightly with a smooth mallet or tap them a little harder with something lighter, like a spoon. You want them to break into pieces no larger than about 1/4″. There’s no real magic to the sizing (just as long as it’s not dust when you’re finished), so just tap away!
- Now it’s chocolate time. Put the white chocolate in a double-boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of lightly boiling water and stir until it is completely melted. If using a bar, break it into pieces first.
- Remove chocolate from heat and immediately add:
- broken candy cane bits (just tip them right off of the parchment paper).
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract. The amount you add will depend upon the strength of your candy canes. Brachs, for example, are really strong so only 1/4 teaspoon is plenty, but some other brands are more mild so 1/2 teaspoon will produce more flavorful bark. It will be delicious no matter what, so just go with your personal preference for degree of mintiness.
- Stir until combined.
- Place the parchment paper in the baking tray and pour the melted chocolate mix into the middle.
- Spread the chocolate mix out so it covers the pan, keeping it reasonably even in thickness.
- Put the tray in the fridge, freezer, or outside to cool. I was going to mention protecting it from animals outside, but if you share your house with anyone that can open the fridge, the peppermint bark will be in danger indoors too…it’s that good.
- Once it’s cool (can be lifted in one piece and breaks crisply, maybe 30 minutes?), break it into random shards of delicious peppermint bark. That’s it, you’re done. You’ve rescued your candy canes from a life of obscurity in the back of a cupboard and made a treat that will bring happiness to everyone lucky enough to partake.
Tips and tricks:
I highly recommend putting the peppermint bark into bags and tying them shut with a good, strong knot right away because this stuff is delicious and it disappears far too fast for the better diet we all promised ourselves at midnight on the 31st. One batch makes about five nicely-sized bags, and if you have a kitchen scale you can even make sure they weigh about the same.
Enjoy your peppermint bark, and thanks for reading.