Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Carrots in the Kitchen: Peppermint Bark

Since it's been about five zillion years since I've done a recipe post, I figured that now was as good a time as any.

Besides, after the holidays there's always the potential to feel a little aimless. All the hustle and bustle and visits and presents and craziness (not to mention the WINE...let's not go there), just lead into a cold January, that's full of things to catch up on (usually work and/or school related), weight to lose (can I get an amen on THAT one), and planning and implementing to do (hello resolutions! I, by the way, have not done a full out formal meditation ONCE since the new year).

For that reason, today's recipe will be quick, cheap, and delicious.

Since I'll be going raw (foodist) in less than a month, someone may as well be able to enjoy a melted chocolate recipe once I can't any more.

But anywhoo, on to the Peppermint Bark. (by the way, this recipe is just from a conglomeration of ones I found by googling "peppermint bark recipe" - I didn't make it up, but it's not exactly copied either. FYI!)
You'll need:
1 bag of chocolate chips (milk or dark, whichever you'd prefer)
1 bag of white chocolate chips
1 bottle of peppermint extract (do the natural one, it's oh so much better - kind of like vanilla, where imitation extract tastes totally different, not that it's bad. I recall dabbing it on my wrists and neck as a little girl when I wanted "perfume" - it was awesome. I still love the smell - when using it for perfume at 5 years old, go imitation! When using it for cooking, do real vanilla. Same for peppermint. Anyway)
---also, a little bottle may be more than you'd expect to pay - mine was $7 or so, but it will last you forEVER.
a few candy canes, or round peppermints, either one works just as well. a large handful will do.

What to do:
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.

- line a cookie sheet with foil.

- spread out the chocolate chips (not the white ones, just the milk/dark) on the cookie sheet in a layer. Don't have them go all the way to the edges, and make sure the layer is definitely touching. I'd keep it about 2 chips deep.

- bake for 5 minutes (only 5!)

- when you remove the cookie sheet, the chocolate chips will still have their forms and won't look melty. However, once you grab a spatula or big spoon and gently smooth them into a layer, you'll see that they're actually just about softened into a liquid. By the way, that's the next step - to smooth them into a layer (as even as you can, doesn't have to be perfect)

- pop the cookie sheet into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.

- while you're waiting, take your peppermints or candy canes and smash them up into small pieces. My particular method was to bribe a certain fiance to take them into the basement with a hammer and go to work. This would work. So would lots of other methods. Be creative! Take out some aggression!

- once the 20 minutes have passed, rig a double boiler by placing a metal bowl on the top of a saucepan. Make sure the bowl is large enough that at least half of it is out of the pan. Also, you don't want it to touch the bottom of the pan - you need at least two inches. Put about an inch to an inch and a half of water into the saucepan, and bring it to a soft boil (which means just small bubbles and a good amount of steam). Depending on your stove, this could be at anywhere from medium-low to medium-high heat.

- pour your white chocolate chips into the bowl atop the saucepan, and stir them until melted. It won't take too long if you start once the water is already gently boiling. note: if you have the water too hot, the white chocolate will clump rather than melting nicely. That's bad. If it happens, turn the heat down. Also, if it happens, it isn't the end of the world and your chocolate will still taste yummy, it'll just be harder to deal with.

- once the white chocolate chips are melting, take the cookie sheet out of the fridge. You want to not have that layer so cold that it forms a layer of condensation (it'll make the layers not stick well enough). So just sit it on the counter to wait until you're ready for the next thing.

- after the white chocolate is all melted, pour in 3 or 4 drops of peppermint extract. Really, that's ALL you need! Any more and you'll be waaaaaaaaay too pepperminty! A little goes a long way, trust me.

- stir until the peppermint is distributed throughout. You won't really be able to tell, so just stir the chocolate well and you're good.

By about now, it should be smelling delicious. If you like peppermint, that is. If not, I wouldn't recommend this recipe. Anyway.

- gently pour the melted white chocolate over the refrigerated milk/dark chocolate layer, spreading it out to cover as evenly as possible. Again, doesn't have to be perfect. Also, work fairly quickly here, because if you dilly dally like I did, the chocolate on the bottom will start to melt and mix, which still tastes fine, but isn't as pretty.

- once the white chocolate is spread out, sprinkle the smashed peppermint bits over the top until they've covered the white chocolate. If you want, you can press them down with your hand (if the layer is good you won't come away with white chocolate fingers) - even if you don't do this they'll probably stick just fine, so it's optional. I'm just a tad OCD so I did it. Anyway,

- refrigerate for at least an hour. After that long, use a knife to cut into small pieces (remember, you're eating straight chocolate so think how big a Hershey's bar pieces, once broken along their lines, are. Do them about 1.5 to 2 times as big as those pieces)

- Eat! Take small bites and savor! Also, peppermint settles your stomach so these are great for an after dinner snack!

I'd love to hear how this recipe goes if you try it out! Lemme know!

Today's quote:
The clock is a conspiracy and a crime against humanity and I would not own one except I miss appointments without it. ~Brian Andreas


Karls said...

Oh my GOD! Another tastegasm! Wish my arse would let me eat more sweets, but it's expanded so much over the break I've had to tell it to stand back from the sugar fix! Bummer!

Michal said...

Ok so I didn't do the recipe thing, but I absolutely LOVE the quote for today!