Holiday Peppermint Bark

During the holiday season, I’ve suffered from homemade gift envy.

My children’s schools have always had a “no gift” policy for the teachers.  They try to enforce the idea of homemade cards from the kids rather than store-bought items.  While I’d try to adhere to this highly-debated policy, I’d always find myself sneaking in a nominal gift card to Barnes and Nobles or iTunes alongside my kids’ artwork. I  just had to reinforce my “thanks.”

However, I never really felt satisfied.  I felt generic. I was envious when, year after year, I’d see my good friend drop off her eagerly-anticipated box of homemade fudge.  She followed the rules AND her gift was homemade. I  could never imagine doing that. It was simply out of the realm of my thinking.

Until this year…

Since I’ve been baking a lot more in the kitchen, so I decided I’d muster up my confidence and finally bake treats for the teachers.  After all, baking and packing the Berger Cookies from The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap made me realize the genuine halo effects from homemade items.  When you take time to make something with your own hands from scratch, your gesture goes a long way.  In fact, even if the food doesn’t taste that great, isn’t it always the thought that counts?

Of course I had to over think the project before I even started.  I wondered: does this sweet treat  have any Christmas connotations?  After all, the peppermint colors can be red and green. I’m Jewish and I’ve never seen peppermint bark exchanged for Hanukkah – just chocolate gelt. Knowing one of my kids’ teachers happened to be Jewish, I did go searching for blue and white candy canes. With no luck, I eventually made myself assume Peppermint Bark is construed as a “holiday” gift signifying snow in the “wintertime.” I purchased one little snowman cookie tin accordingly .

The best part about Peppermint Bark?  It’s extremely easy to make but, it tastes so sinfully extravagant.  Honestly, it’s just melting chocolate, crushing candy canes, layering them together and then refrigerating the chocolate until it hardens into a “bark.”  Any 4-year old has constructed something similar in nursery school.  No excuses.

Lucky for us we had a ton of candy canes left over from our apartment building holiday party the night before.

Beautiful candy canes….before getting CRUSHED

We had a blast placing the canes in a zip loc bag and jumping up and down on the bag until the canes were broken up. (I wouldn’t recommend this if you live in an apartment with neighbors below.  The bag broke open in mid stomp and peppermint bits flew all over our kitchen floor).  Simply chopping the canes up in a food processor would suffice.  Just make sure you don’t chop them to much or the canes will turn into powder.  You want to use chunks to make your bark top nice and pretty and 3-D.

I noticed that many Peppermint Bark recipes recommend different forms of chocolate.  I decided to sample three different kinds.  I had Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Squares in the pantry so I used them for my first batch.   The recipe calls for a double boiler to melt the chocolate.  I don’t have a double boiler nor was I about to buy another vessel to cram into my kitchen cabinet.  So, I made a make shift boiler with a sauce pan and a pyrex bowl that fit snuggly on top and was ready to melt away.

Chocolate melting in the make-shift double boiler

The Baker’s Chocolate melted perfectly, spread easily in the dish and hardened within 15 minutes in the fridge (contrary to the 1-hour suggested time in the recipe). I laughed when I read the recipe calls for “fine quality” white chocolate.  I simply picked up a container full of Vahlrona white chocolate disks on sale at Whole Foods.  These too melted easily, spread easily and hardened quickly. Make sure you don’t spread on the white chocolate layer until after the base chocolate layer has completely hardened or else the chocolate and white chocolate will mix together and your bark top won’t have that solid white contrast against the bright red swirls from the crushed canes.  When sprinkling the broken canes on top, my 6-year old said he felt like he was sprinkling glitter over a glue canvas.  I sure hoped it tasted better than that!

Sea of crushed peppermint canes atop melted chocolate

The next two batches weren’t as successful because I used regular chocolate and white chocolate chips.  They didn’t melt well and they created a thicker bumpier consistency in the double boiler.  I know people use the microwave, but, as my baking teacher recommended, it’s more reliable to  stick with the double boiler to insure even heat distribution in your chocolates.

I kept the final bark in the fridge for a long time (over an hour) just to be safe.  When we were ready to break the bark, we flipped it upside down so that we were actually breaking with the bottom on top to try to preserve as many candy canes pieces as possible.  It’s a really messy job but, really fun.  Actually, it’s an ideal stress reliever if you’ve had a rough day.  We started breaking and breaking and breaking and the thicker the chocolate, the harder it was.  It did feel little strange to be so aggressive with the food.  But, the goal is to produce jagged pieces in a variety of sizes.

We sampled the bits that had spewed across the counter.  So good!  The batches with the peppermint extract had that extra zing of flavor.  We also agreed the batch with the milk chocolate morsels was too sweet; we’d stick with the semi-sweet chocolate.

The final product, packed and ready to go

We then packaged the bark pieces in little tins as if we were hastily throwing puzzle pieces back in their boxes. Organized chaos.

Our final product looked beautiful, and well thought out; like a true labor of peppermint bark love.

We felt accomplished and proud to be sharing homemade treats made from our very own home.

Enjoy!

Well, do you bake and distribute your goods for holiday presents?  If so, what do you bake?

I am linking this recipe over here:

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Comments

  1. looks so yummy! Would love for you to come over and link up to my Tasty Tuesday party! http://nap-timecreations.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-cookies-and-tasty-tuesday.html

  2. Oh my, this peppermint bark looks SO yummy! I think I need to make some very soon… 🙂

    Stopping in from What I Love Wednesday!

  3. Ahhh, bark…that’s been on my to do list for several years. I’ve still never made it. 🙂 Yummy…thanks. Jessica

    Found you at What i Love Wed.

  4. emily kaufman says:

    I love peppermint bark! Can’t wait to try your recipe. Bet my girls will love crushing the candy canes too 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thank you for posting this! We’re having a cookie decorating party this weekend and I’ve been looking for a couple of perfect desserts to add to the mix!

    I’m a new follower, too!

    • Paula » hey – welcome! so happy you stopped by. Honestly Paula, this is so easy to make and it’s beautiful and festive and tasty. There are also chocolate turtles on my site which could be fun to make too. Hope you’ll come by again soon. I’ll stop by welcoming spirit.

  6. Looks great and so yummy 🙂

  7. Delicious! It would drive me crazy if we had a no gift policy at my daughters’ school. BUT this bark would be a great gift. I would love for you to join my linky, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, sometime! The link runs through Friday. 🙂

  8. I just got some homemade Peppermint Bark Today and you are right it was so yummy and SO thoughtful. A great gift! I am a new FB follower visiting from Keeping It Simple.

    • Vicky » Yay! So now you can make the bark too! So happy you stopped by and are following. Interesting food on the horizon

  9. Looks beautiful. Thanks for stopping by today!!

  10. Your peppermint barks makes the perfect homemade Christmas gift. I’m sure anyone would love to have some. Thanks for sharing on Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

  11. I love bark and this looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing at Mrs Foxs Sweet Party and have a Merry Christmas 🙂

  12. I love peppermint bark and made it for the first time this year, but had issues with melting milk and white chocolate. The dark chocolate was great. I had no idea there was an actual recipe! I thought I could just melt and reharden!

    Oh and you should probably NOT read my post about receiving homemade food from students….

  13. Your chocolate looks divine! I am from Germany and we do not have the tradition of teachers’ gifts there. I can imagine it adds a bit of festive pressure…

    • Annika » thanks for stopping by. the chocolate bark is so easy to make. I do hope you try it. And, you’re lucky. Teacher gifts are very stressful! Happy Holidays

  14. Hi, I am now following you from Madame Deals come check out my contests at http://madamedeals.com/contests/

    Thanks

  15. A good combination, looks delicious! Merry Christmas Pat.

  16. Your peppermint bark looks delicious. Thank you so much for linking up to “Strut Your Stuff Saturday.” We would love you to come back next Saturday and share more of your incredible recipes. -The Sisters

  17. This looks gorgeous! I wish I had known how easy it was to make peppermint bark, instead of shelling out for it at the store!

  18. I really enjoyed this post. You explain this topic very well. I really love your blog and I will definetly bookmark it! Keep up the interesting posts!

Trackbacks

  1. […] and chances are, you have the ingredients to create the tastiest of treats.  I had no idea the Peppermint Bark we made last week was so effortless to make and only required three ingredients, all of which I […]

  2. […] fact, last year I made a simple peppermint candy bark for my kids’ teachers – which took all of 20 minutes to make (shh don’t tell them).  […]

  3. […] the peppermint bark, there are tutorials & recipes all over the place for it. I used this one from myjudythefoodie.com, which uses both white and dark chocolate. Oh, and if you don’t have a double boiler (because […]

  4. […] and chances are, you have the ingredients to create the tastiest of treats.  I had no idea the Peppermint Bark we made last week was so effortless to make and only required three ingredients, all of which I […]

  5. […] For the topping, we crushed up the leftover peppermint sticks from the Peppermint Bark. […]

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