I posted this recipe last year, but not until February. So here I am, trying to be timely. Go make this! It is easy, and quite possibly the best peppermint bark you'll ever taste. There's a layer of peppermint ganache between all that white chocolate, and it gives a slightly soft, slightly bitter, seriously chocolate pow to this bark. The contrast of textures between the crunchy candies, the aforementioned ganache, and the sorta snappy white chocolate is delightful. And pepperminty. And addictive.
Last year I wrapped the bark in cellophane bags and stuck them in my family's stockings. This year I made a tin for my work peeps, and another tin for my roommate (Annmarie's weakness is chocolate and peppermint). I will be making another round for family stockings next week as well.
Enough talk. Start melting that chocolate!!
Three-Layer Peppermint Bark
From Orangette, adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1998
To crush the peppermints coarsely, Bon Appétit advises tapping the wrapped candies firmly with the bottom edge of an unopened 15- to 16-ounce can. She used a heavy glass jar, and that worked fine too.
- 17 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped (make sure cocoa butter is one of the major ingredients--I used the Whole Foods white chocolate chunks)
- 30 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed
- 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, such as E Guittard 61% semi sweet chocolate
- 6 Tbsp. heavy cream
- ¾ tsp. peppermint extract
Turn a large baking sheet upside down, or an unrimmed cookie sheet, and cover it securely with aluminum foil. Measure out and mark a 9- by 12-inch rectangle.
Put the white chocolate in a metal (or other heatproof) bowl, and set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water. (Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water.) Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth; if you take its temperature with a candy thermometer, it should register 110°F. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Pour 2/3 cup of it onto the rectangle on the foil. Using an icing spatula, spread the chocolate to fill the rectangle. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the crushed peppermints. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the bittersweet chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract in a heavy medium saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Then remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator, and pour the bittersweet chocolate mixture over the white chocolate rectangle. Using an icing spatula – make sure you cleaned it after using it for the white chocolate, above! – spread the bittersweet chocolate in an even layer. Chill until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.
Rewarm the remaining white chocolate over barely simmering water to 110°F. Working quickly, pour the white chocolate over the firm bittersweet layer, using your (again, clean) icing spatula to spread it to cover. Sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.
Carefully lift the foil from the baking sheet onto a large cutting board. Trim away any ragged edges of the rectangle. (These are yours to immediately devour, which you will.) Cut the bark crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Using metal spatula, slip the bark off of the foil and onto the cutting board. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections, and then cut each section diagonally into 2 triangles.
Pack into an airtight container, with sheets of wax paper between layers of bark to prevent them from sticking to one another. Store in the refrigerator. Serve cold or, to emphasize the slight softness of the bittersweet layer, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. (Much better at room temperature.)
Note: This bark will keep for up to 2 weeks, if not more. If you plan to pack it in a tin or baggie with other holiday sweets, be sure to wrap it separately in plastic wrap. Or maybe wax paper and then plastic wrap, so that it doesn’t sweat. If you left it naked, so to speak, to mix and mingle with other cookies or candies, everything might wind up tasting and smelling like peppermint.