Saturday, December 19, 2009
A few years ago I didn't even know what bark was. I had heard its name chimed from the midst of conversations that didn't belong to me, but I had no interest in further investigating. It was this year, that I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Have you ever looked up the recipe for peppermint bark? "Melt white chocolate, crush candy canes, sprinkle on top". ...Yeah, that's it. *Yawn*, boooooring.
I desire complication. Give me texture, I say!
So without even attempting the simple bark that everyone raves about, I assigned myself the task of creating the greatest bark of all time. I would make, a seven layer bark.
You will need:
-white chocolate, about 2 cups, divided in half.
-regular chocolate, about 2 1/4 cups. Divide into 3 sections. 1 cup, 1 cup, and 1/4 cup.
-peppermint extract. about 2 1/2 tsp- ish. you might want less than this. your call.
-candy canes. its up to you how many. i grabbed the biggest handful of mini candy canes that i could get.
-2 large glass bowls for melting.
-a blender, or zip lock bag. or both.
-wax paper. 3-5 large sheets.
Before you start, clear off a large space on your counter top. This bark isn't made on a cookie sheet like most barks. Cover your counter top with wax paper.
Lets make magic happen...
Gather your candy canes. Un wrap them.
If you have a blender, load them up. Turn blender onto the lowest setting. This will grind them up into different size pieces. You'll want a good amount of candy cane powder, and a good amount of chunky pieces.
If you do not have a blender, grab a zip lock bag, put your candy canes inside, and pound on them with a hard object. I used a jar.
Now, you want to separate the powder from the pieces. I did this in a regular ol' kitchen strainer.
If the bigger pieces aren't quite small enough, use the zip lock method to pound them down to the size you're looking for.
Set the candy cane pieces and powder aside in separate bowls. You'll be using the powder before the pieces, so have that within close reach.
Put half of your white chocolate into a bowl (might as well get the other chocolate ready in its bowl at the same time), along with 1/2 tsp peppermint extract. Melt it in the microwave. You can melt this on the stove if you choose to, but its so much easier (and quicker) to just follow the directions and use the microwave.
After your first bowl of white chocolate is melted, hurry over to the wax paper, and pour it down, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Work quickly, because it will begin to thicken faster than you're probably anticipating. It doesn't have to look perfect, lumps and bumps are ok. Just try to get it as thin as you think it will safely go.
Let it dry completely. Walk away, do something, come back in about 15 minutes.
After your white chocolate has dried completely, its time to add a layer of brown chocolate. Melt about a cup of brown chocolate, with 1/2 tsp peppermint. After its been melted, pour it over the top of the white chocolate.
Now, as you might have already guessed, this is going to melt the white chocolate. So you need to work fast, with as little swirls of the spoon as possible. Spread it out evenly over the white chocolate, pushing it out as far to the edges as possible.
Before this layer dries, grab your candy cane dust, and sprinkle it over the top.
Again, walk away, do something, come back in 15 minutes or so. You want it to dry as much as possible. The thicker we go with the layers, the longer its going to take to dry.
For the 4th layer, melt your other cup of brown chocolate, along with another 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint. Pour it over the top.
Smoothing it out will be tricky, because of the candy cane dust underneath, but you can do it! Its ok that it looks bumpy. Its supposed to.
Let it dry.
Alright. We're getting close to the end here.
Melt the remainder of your white chocolate, with more peppermint.
Pour it over the top. Smooth it out.
Shake on all the rest of your candy cane pieces. Tap them into place with your fingers. Its starting to look so pretty!
Melt the remainder of your brown chocolate, don't forget to put in a splash more of peppermint, and then drizzle it over the top!
You all know how to drizzle chocolate, right? Dip it, and then kinda do a flick of the wrist type motion?
Are you drooling yet??
...ok, well you can't touch it for awhile. That's 7 layers of warm sugar... it needs to cool. And even after its cooled on the counter completely, it will still be very soft.
Don't even think about picking this bark up and dropping it to break it into pieces that way. That method won't work. You'll need to bring out the big guns for this stuff.
Or, a pizza cutter.
Cut your bark into various square sizes.
Carefully with a spatula, piece by piece, take your time, remove each square, and put it onto a lined baking sheet. Put baking sheets into the fridge to cool completely.
Your end result should look something like this...
Mmm. So good.
So there you have it. Now honestly, do you think you can ever go back to plain ol' 2 layer bark ever again?