Peppermint Bark

Posted on December 2nd, 2011  |  Filed under Episode 210 « Sara's Weeknight Meals Season 2

peppermint_barkHand’s-On Time: 30 minutes
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour to an hour and a half

Ingredients
12 ounces (about 2 cups) 65% cacao dark chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
12 ounces (about 2 cups) white chocolate, chopped, or white chocolate chips
35 peppermint candies (about 1 cup crushed)

NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT CHILL THE BOTTOM DARK CHOCOLATE LAYER FOR MORE THAN 5 to 8 MINUTES (OR UNTIL IT JUST STARTS TO SET UP) OR THE WHITE CHOCOLATE LAYER WILL NOT STICK TO IT.

Directions
Unwrap the peppermint candies and place them in a food processor. Pulse on/off several times for 5-10 seconds each, until the candies are crushed into small pieces. Or, place the candies in a large resealable plastic bag and seal tightly. Use a rolling pin to roll/smash the candy canes until they are the size you desire.

Prepare a 13 x 9 x 2 cookie sheet by covering it with smooth aluminum foil.

Melt or temper* the dark chocolate. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared cookie sheet and use an offset spatula or knife to spread it to an even thickness, a little more than 1/8″ thick. The chocolate does not have to reach all sides of the sheet, as it will be broken up later anyhow. Place the tray in the refrigerator to firm up while you prepare the white chocolate.

While the dark chocolate hardens, melt or temper* the white chocolate. Stir in most of the candy bits, reserving about a quarter of the mixture to put on top.

Remove the tray from the refrigerator and spread the white chocolate in an even layer over the dark chocolate.

While the white chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the remaining candy cane pieces over the entire surface evenly. Press down very slightly to ensure they stick. Place the tray back in the refrigerator to firm up for 30 minutes.

Once the peppermint bark is completely set, break into small, uneven pieces by hand.

Download Sara’s Peppermint Bark Art Label Here!
Clip Art Label-Sara’s Peppermint Bark

Cook’s Notes
You can make bark with any kind of dried fruit or nuts – such as cranberries, apricots, pistachios and hazel nuts.

You can use chocolate chips, but then store in fridge before using because they will not set up as hard.

What is the best way to melt chocolate? Chocolate scorches very easily, which completely ruins the flavor. Melt it slowly over low heat to prevent burning. A double boiler is great for this, because the boiling water prevents the chocolate from heating above 100 deg F. Remove the bowl with the chocolate from the double boiler when it’s a little more than halfway melted
and then stir until the rest is smooth.

If you have the time you might want to try *tempering the chocolate. Tempering is important because it determines the final gloss, hardness, and contraction of the chocolate. Those factors are evidence that the cocoa butter in the chocolate has been correctly crystallized. Chocolate from the store has already been tempered. It snaps when you break it, usually has a nice shine to it and it is hard. In order to use it, you need to melt it. When you melt chocolate, the molecules of fat separate and you lose the temper (crystallization). If you want to use the chocolate for molding or coating, it needs to be tempered again. Tempering chocolate means putting the molecules of fat back together. There are a variety of ways to do it.

One of the easiest ways to temper it is to place the chocolate in a glass bowl and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time on high power until the chocolate is melted. Be very careful not to overheat it. Keep an eye on it; the chocolate will not look like it has melted because it retains its shape. The chocolate should be only slightly warmer than your bottom lip. You may still see lumps in it but, don’t worry; the residual heat of the chocolate will melt them. You can also use an immersion blender to break up the lumps and start the recrystallization process. Usually, the chocolate begins to set (recrystallize) along the side of the bowl. As it begins to crystallize, mix those crystals into the melted chocolate and they will begin the recrystallization process. I like to use a glass bowl because it retains the heat and keeps the chocolate tempered a long time.

Here is another easy way to temper chocolate. In this method, tempering is achieved by adding small pieces of unmelted chocolate to melted chocolate. The amount of unmelted chocolate to be added depends on the temperature of the melted chocolate but is usually one fourth of the total amount. I use an immersion blender to mix the 2 together.

The classic way to temper chocolate is call tabliering. Chocolate is melted over a hot water bath to a temperature between 88 and 90 degrees. White and milk chocolate are melted to a temperature approximately 2 degrees less, depending on the amount of milk fat they contain. 2/3 of the melted chocolate is poured on a cold table or marble surface. The chocolate is spread out and worked with a spatula until the temperature of the chocolate is approximately 81 degrees. At this stage, it is thick and begins to set. This tempered chocolate is then added to the remaining one third of non-tempered chocolate and mixed thoroughly until the mass in the bowl has a completely uniform temperature. If the temperature is still too high, part of the
chocolate is further worked on the cold table until the correct temperature is reached. This is a lot of work, requires a lot of room and makes a big mess.

Here is a tip: Temper more chocolate than you need. A larger quantity will hold its temper longer than a smaller quantity (just like a large cup of coffee will stay hot longer than a small cup of espresso). You can always reuse the extra chocolate. Most people have trouble tempering because they use too small of an amount. Don’t forget to use a glass bowl.

A simple method of checking tempering is by applying a small quantity of chocolate to a piece of paper or to the point of a knife. If the chocolate has been correctly tempered it will harden evenly and show a good gloss within 5 minutes.

Remember, just like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. If your chocolate does not temper the first time, you can still eat it! Now that is an incentive!



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