December 26, 2009 § 2 Comments
A couple of days ago, my mom and I pulled out tubs of flour and cane sugar to commence our annual Baking Extravaganza. Each year we make snowball cookies, raspberry oat bars and my mom spends a long time over a stove burner stirring milk and marshmallows for multiple batches of her rich chocolate fudge. After a full day in the kitchen, we often resort to eating something ho-hum for dinner, like take-out from a nearby shop. But this year I decided instead to make a batch of Minestrone soup and buttermilk corn bread instead. For dessert – probably unnecessary after a full day nibbling sweets in the kitchen (but one can never have too many sweets in my book!) – I aimed for something light, a palate cleanser. I melted down some high quality chocolate from my pantry and whipped up a sheet of peppermint bark for my mom. After I broke the bark in big hunks, I popped them in the fridge and served them cold (but not frozen). This recipe is a cinch and down-right addictive. I’d say it’s as addictive as the “Matzoh Crack” from Passover of last year, and that stuff was gone in less than 12 hours.
I have one caveat: the expense. To be blunt, the peppermint bark is really only so good as the chocolate you use. The peppermint extract does overpower some of the flavor, but it won’t cover up a yucky-tasting bar of chocolate. I used a fairly dark (71%) variety of Valhrona, which is mucho buckos. If you feel you can splurge, take the plunge for some good chocolate.
7 oz. high quality dark chocolate
1/3 cup crushed peppermints (or candy cane pieces)
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1. Break peppermints into fine pieces. (A handy trick I use is to place whole peppermints in a sealed ziploc. Then I wrap the entire bag with a towel, place it on top of a cutting board and bang the heck out of it with a meat-pounder.) When finished, set aside.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper.
3. To melt the chocolate you can try using the microwave, but I shy away from that method because chocolate easily burns. Instead, I create a make-shift double boiler. Here’s how: heat a small pot of water on the stove until lightly simmering. Place a heat-proof dish over the boiling water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the boiling water. Place broken chocolate in the bowl and stir until melted.
4. Once melted, stir in peppermint extract. Pour melted chocolate on top of waxed paper and spread with a spatula until even, approximately 1/4″ thick.
5. Lightly press broken peppermints into the melted chocolate. Cool at room temperature for two hours or pop in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Diet Notes: Nut-free, gluten-free