Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Treats: Homemade Peppermint Bark

Yea, it's hard to avoid the overpriced tins of candy cane striped peppermint bark in pretty much every store that carries food. Specifically I'm thinking of those terribly overpriced "gourmet" items from Williams-Sonoma. You can easily make your own version of this chocolate and peppermint combo at home. Top it with some crushed candy canes, and suddenly they're fancy enough to give away to your friends!

Items that help: a large chef's knife, a covered baking pan, and a heatproof bowl and pot combo.

Peppermint Bark

8 Tbsp butter
½ cup super fine sugar*
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 ½ cups confectioners sugar
about ½ tsp peppermint extract (add to your taste)
7 oz semisweet chocolate pieces
about 4 Tbsp warm water

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper. This is better than greasing because later it will allow you to lift the cookie slab out when you get ready to cut it.

2. Whisk the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Stir in the flour until the mixture binds together.

3. First Layer: Crust.
Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth dough (or until you get bored), then press the dough into the pan until it covers the bottom. Poke the surface with a fork several times. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until it turns light brown. Let cool.

4. Second Layer: Peppermint Frosting
While the crust is cooling, sift the confectioners sugar into a bowl and begin gradually adding the warm water until it reaches a thick, yet spreadable consistency. Add the peppermint extract last. Spread the frosting on after the crust has cooled. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or until firm.

5. Third Layer: Chocolate
After the frosting has set, melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl set in a pan of warm (not quite simmering) water. Stir the chocolate constantly until it's completely melted and smooth. Don't rush things by overheating the water--this could affect the chocolate's temper. When the chocolate is ready, pour it into the pan and spread it over the frosting.

Optional: Sprinkle with crushed candy cane pieces while the chocolate is warm.

Let the chocolate set several hours or overnight before cutting.

Do NOT refrigerate!

Cutting into slices:

Lift the slab out of the baking sheet and onto a kitchen table of work counter. Using a sharp chef's knife, cut into squares or slices. Store in an air tight container for up to two weeks.

*If you can't find superfine sugar (aka, castor sugar) at the store, try making your own. It's cheaper and less of a hassle. All you need is a fixed blade coffee grinder (that you don't plan on using for coffee ever again, not that you would anyway because if you like coffee at all you have a burr grinder) OR you can use a small food processor. Put your sugar in and zap it, then measure. Repeat until quantity needed is reached.

1 comment:

  1. Whenever I think Peppermint Bark, I think about the ones from William Sonoma and talk about OVER-PRICED! I'll definitely have to try making these myself. Thanks for the recipe!