Over the past couple of years, peppermint bark has become a favorite holiday candy for many people. There is something about the sweet, rich, and peppermint flavors blending together that just mean Holidays and Christmas. You can buy it at various stores, but making bark candy is very simple. Plus, when a gift is homemade in your kitchen, I think people treasure it just a bit more: you thought of them and took your time to make them something special. And unlike that store-bought collection of jams that will gather dust in the back of a pantry, a gift of homemade peppermint bark is sure to be enjoyed and raved about.
Candy making in my house is a family tradition. Recipes are handed down from generation to generation, and each generation adds something new. A couple of years ago, my aunt and I decided to add some bark to our candy repertoire. We started with some simple versions, one type of chocolate sprinkled with dried fruit and nuts. Then we got adventurous and swirled the white and dark chocolates before adding the fruit and nuts. It was a hit with the family and friends.
Then one day someone walked in with a box of peppermint bark. Oh, it was good! As we noshed on pieces of the decadent candy, all you heard in the kitchen was the crunch of the candy and the “hmmm” of satisfaction as the chocolate melted smoothly across the tongue. It became obvious we needed the recipe! Luckily, one of CHEFS team members had developed a peppermint bark recipe, wanting to be able to make it in her kitchen, too. She passed it along to me, and it has quickly become a standard addition to our yearly candy making.
A couple of things you should know about making peppermint bark:
- When you choose your chocolates, buy the best quality you can find and afford. Better quality chocolate melts smoother and doesn’t get grainy when it cools.
- Make sure you like to eat the chocolate you use in the recipe. There aren’t a lot of added flavors or ingredients. You are going to taste the chocolate in this candy. If you don’t like the chocolate’s flavor, you won’t like the final product.
- Peppermint extract can be powerful. Start at 1/2-teaspoon then add little bits at a time. The first time I made this I used over a full teaspoon, and it made my eyes water.
- This recipe is super easy to play with and come up with your own unique variation. Love dark chocolate—okay, use it! I find dark chocolate has a stronger flavor and I want just a touch more peppermint extract (a scant ¼-teaspoon). You prefer orange and chocolate: use candied orange peel bits and orange extract. If the added flavor works with chocolate you won’t go too far wrong.
I hope you will give this peppermint bark a try. I think you will find that it’s better than what you can find in a box.
Let’s make some Peppermint Bark!
Video: Making Peppermint Bark Video
What you will need:
- semi-sweet chocolate
- white chocolate, with cocoa butter
- peppermint extract
- crushed candy canes
- ½ teaspoon measure
- ¾ cup measure
- chefs knife
- rolling pin (or a meat pounder or mallet)
- heavy zip plastic bag for pounding candy canes
- double boiler (or a sauce pan and a few glass bowls, as I have in the picture,)
- baking sheet
Prep the pan
I like to use the CHEFS Nonstick Ceramic Jelly Roll Pan. I don’t have to use any extra nonstick spray to get the candy out of the pan. Alternately, line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray with a nonstick spray.
Crush the candy canes
Use a rolling pin or mallet to break the candy into small pieces. You can use a food processor, if desired. I don’t use the food processor because it makes the candy too small. Plus playing whack-a-mole with the candy canes helps relieve a bit of pent up stress.
After I crush the candies, I put them in a sieve to separate the larger pieces of candy from the candy dust. I find that the candy dust isn’t as pretty as the larger pieces of candy. But don’t throw the candy dust out. If you want, stir in a bit of it into the either of the chocolates. It adds a nice crunch and a little color into the chocolate. Or, use it another time as cookie decorations.
Chop the Chocolate
I like to chop my white chocolate first, and then the semi-sweet chocolate. If a bit of the white gets into the darker chocolate, no big deal; it will be covered without any problem. But if you get dark into the white chocolate, it is harder to cover up. So, I chop my white chocolate and then the darker chocolate and never have to change knives of cutting board.
Chocolate is chopped and candy is crushed. Measure out ½-teaspoon of peppermint extract and you are ready to make your peppermint bark. Feel free to adjust the amount of peppermint to your tastes, but I recommend adding more in very small increments. Stir it in and then taste—if the chocolate gets too cool you can always warm it up just a bit, but if you add too much extract it gets more complicated.
Melt the chocolate
You can use the microwave to heat your chocolate, if you desire. I use the stove method because I find it easier. The heat of the microwave is harder to control, and if you aren’t watchful the chocolate will burn. Use whichever method works best for you. Just keep a close eye on your chocolate. You want it just melted, creamy and smooth.
Fill a saucepan with a couple of inches of water. There should be a couple of inches of space between the water and the bowl. Place a saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat to bring the water to a simmer.
Lower the heat to medium-low, and place the bowl of chopped semi-sweet chocolate on top.
As the chocolate begins to melt, stir often until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan. Spread the chocolate with a spatula to cover the bottom of the pan and give it a shake to smooth the surface. (A quick shake works, I promise. I took before and after pics of the white or check out the video)
Place the filled sheet pan in the refrigerator to chill while you melt the white chocolate. By the time the white chocolate has melted, the chocolate will be firm and ready for the next step.
The process for the white chocolate is pretty much the same. The only exception is once the chocolate is melted, remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the peppermint extract. Stir thoroughly to combine. Then pour the white chocolate over the set semi-sweet chocolate.
Sprinkle with candy
Immediately, sprinkle top of the candy with the crushed peppermint. Use the tips of your fingers to press the candy into the chocolate. Place flat in the refrigerator to thoroughly chill and set, at least an hour. Grab your knife or cookie cutters and cut into squares or shapes. Store in an air tight container and keep in a cool dry space. I store mine in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate firm, and frankly I like my peppermint cold.
That’s it! It is pretty simple, and it will probably take longer for you to read this post than make a batch for yourself. Let us know what you think when you make a batch!
What’s your favorite chocolate and flavor combination? I know someone out there loves hot peppers and chocolate. Can you imagine the bark candy that would make?
Peppermint Bark Recipe
12 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chips or cut into small pieces
16 oz white chocolate (with cocoa butter), chips or cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste
12 candy canes or ¾-cup peppermint candy, crushed
Note: Use the best quality chocolate that you enjoy eating and can afford. Better quality chocolate helps ensure a smoother final candy
Place unwrapped candy canes or peppermint candies in food processor and pulse until in small pieces. If desired, pour crushed candies through sieve to remove the candy powder from the larger pieces for garnishing the top of the bark. Set aside. Alternately: Place unwrapped candies in a sealing freezer bag. Using a mallet, meat pounder or rolling pin, crush the candies.
Use a small nonstick jelly roll pan or line the jelly roll pan with foil, letting it hang over the sides for easy removal of the finished candy. Grease foil lightly with nonstick spray.
Using a double boiler, heat the semi-sweet chocolate chips over medium-low heat. Heat the chocolate until smooth and lump free. Pour into prepared jelly roll pan. Using a spatula spread the melted chocolate evenly in the pan. To smooth the surface of the shake the pan quickly. Place flat into a refrigerator until cold and firm.
Using a double boiler, heat the white chocolate chips over medium-low heat. Heat the chocolate until smooth and lump free. Remove from heat and stir in peppermint extract. If desired, add ½-cup of the candy powder and stir to combine. Pour into jelly roll pan over set semi-sweet chocolate. Using a spatula spread the melted chocolate evenly across the surface of the first. To smooth the candy surface shake the pan quickly. Sprinkle crushed candy across the surface of the white chocolate.
Chill flat until both layers are firm. Trim edges. Cut into 2″ squares.
Makes approximately 2 pounds.