Since I got home I haven't posted any recipes or anything about food, but I've actually been baking away like a little kitchen elf. I haven't posted anything though, because I'm absent-minded and keep forgetting to take pictures, and so I haven't bothered to post any recipes, because recipes without pictures are boring (but let me know if you want pictureless recipes for Chai-Honey Shortbread, or Toasted Almond Sugar Cookies, which were both quite yummy - especially the almond cookies).
So today I roped my brother into making peppermint bark with me (although aside from making a critical supermarket run for the peppermint extract, his participation was limited to stealing my molten chocolate to make himself a cup of peppermint hot chocolate, and occasionally sticking his fingers in everything). And I remembered earlyish enough to take pictures. Not early enough to take pictures of the beautiful bowl of unwrapped Lindt balls (extra dark and white), but early enough to get pictures of the melted/ing chocolate before I poured them on top of each other, and the rest of the process.
If you want a traditional Peppermint Bark recipe, click here. Otherwise you can follow my unconventional recipe that was dictated mostly by what was on sale. I went to Whole Foods hoping to find some relatively inexpensive dark and white chocolate in bulk, which is apparently impossible to find, since the cheapest chocolate was like $3.50 for a 2 oz bar. Ridiculous! So I thought I'd try my luck at the Rite-Aid pharmacy next door, thinking they would have some cheaper alternative to the Costs-Its-Weight-In-Gold Organic Fair-Trade Mayan Gods Chocolate from Whole Foods (although I did by the Fair-Trade Organic Cane-Sugar Candy Canes from Whole Foods). And in fact at Rite-Aid they had a sale on Lindt Lindor Truffles, $1.99 a bag instead of $4.29. More than half off! I know it's not the ideal melting chocolate, but it was cheap and yummy, so I bought three bags of each, only to come home and discover that we had bars of both dark and white chocolate in the fridge (probably the super elite organic whole foods stuff I had refused to buy). I decided to incorporate those anyway, to give the Peppermint Bark a more chocolately taste, since Lindor Truffles are so buttery.
So that's how I ended up letting a sale dictate my recipe. Feel free to substitute all regular bar chocolate for the Lindor Truffles.
Lindt Lindor Truffle Peppermint Bark
3 Bags Lindt Extra Dark (60% chocolate) Lindor Truffles
150 g 72% Dark Chocolate
3 Bags Lindt White Chocolate Lindor Truffles
150 g White Chocolate
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
4 tsp Peppermint Oil
2 Boxes Crushed Candy Canes
You'll need a double boiler, or if you don't have one, nesting sauce pans, but make sure the smaller one, when placed inside the bigger one, doesn't touch the bottom, or the chocolate will burn, and nothing is nastier than burnt .
Grease a cookie sheet* with vegetable oil, and stick it in the freezer until you're ready to use it.
Set the double boiler on the stove, making sure to not fill the bottom saucepan more than half way (or the water might slosh into the chocolate). Bring water to a boil, and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Unwrap the Lindor Truffles, putting the white and dark chocolate in separate bowls. Chop up the dark chocolate (not the Truffles) and set aside.
Put the dark Lindor Truffles in the double boiler, and melt them down completely. Mix in the chopped up dark chocolate, and stir until smooth. Stir in 2 tsp of peppermint extract (NB: the peppermint extract I used was alcohol free, and therefore vegetable oil-based, which made it less strong, and so I used more. If you're using traditional alcohol-based peppermint oil, you may want to adjust the amount to taste, which probably means using a little less than 2 tsp).
Take out the greased cookie sheet and pour in the dark chocolate mixture, making sure to spread it evenly in the bottom. Put it back in the freezer, making sure to keep it level, so that the melted chocolate doesn't pool in a corner.
Wash your utensils and the top saucepan of the double boiler (keeping the bottom part filled with water on a low flame), and repeat the entire process with the white chocolate (first melt the truffles, then the chocolate, then the peppermint oil). Keep it on a low flame in the double boiler until the dark chocolate layer (in the freezer) has hardened completely. Don't worry if it cracks.
When the dark chocolate is completely hard, take it out, and pour the white chocolate over the dark chocolate. Spread it out, but be careful to not touch the dark chocolate through the white chocolate, or they'll mix together and it'll marble (which is what happened to me).
Put the pan of chocolate in the fridge (not the freezer) for about 25 min, or until the white chocolate is firm, but not hard. You're going to want the candy cane pieces to stick to the chocolate, and get a little embedded, but not sink to the bottom of the melted chocolate and disappear (which is also what happened to me when I tried putting the candy cane pieces in the still soft white chocolate).
While the chocolate is cooling, put your unwrapped candy canes in a ziplock bag and whack them with a wooden spoon until the biggest pieces are no bigger than 1/4 - 1/2 inch long. You'll also end up with a bunch of smaller pieces and candy cane dust.
When the white chocolate is cool enough (but not too much!) sprinkle the broken candy cane onto it, starting with the biggest pieces, and finish off with a sprinkling of candy cane dust.
Peppermint Bark makes a lovely gift, especially pretty in little jars or cellophane bags (or anything transparent) that lets you see all the pretty layers of chocolate and candy cane, and decorated with a nice red bow.
My little army of Peppermint Bark Baggies
* When I was starting out, I thought a cookie sheet would be too big, so I used a half-sized cookie sheet. Well that was apparently too small, since my peppermint bark came to about an inch thick, twice as thick as it's supposed to be. So while mine are now Peppermint Cubes instead of thin, delicate Peppermint Bark, at least I was able to pass on my mistakes in the hopes that you can learn from them and make it the right way.