Chocolate Peppermint Bark

IMG_1159Happy Monday! Hope you had a wonderful weekend and got all your Christmas shopping done… because Christmas is a week from Thursday, Oh My! Trying to find the perfect gift for co-workers, friends or neighbors is difficult, which is why I think food is always a safe bet! Delicious, homemade, baked with love, treats! I mean seriously, who doesn’t love a gift they can eat? Its better than an ugly pair of socks or an awkward Christmas tree ornament you’ll feel obligated to hang on your tree for the next 10 years.

After reading this hilarious article, 2014 Hater’s Guide to The Williams-Sonoma Catalog, I learned just how expensive chocolate peppermint bark is when you purchase it from the designer brand Williams Sonoma… $30 per tin!!! That’s right, I can almost fill my car with gas for the same price. Unless their bark has flecks of gold in it or it was literally made by elves in the North Pole, there is NO reason you should pay that much for candy.IMG_1147 I took it as a challenge to make an equally delicious, wait no, an even BETTER bark than WS, and I’m pretty sure this recipe takes the cake. Creamy, rich, chocolate ganache sandwiched between two layers of silky white chocolate and topped with crunchy peppermint candy. Are you drooling yet? Forget the cookies, Santa wants peppermint bark this year! Enjoy! IMG_1163

Chocolate Peppermint Bark (Makes 30-35 pieces)

Ingredients:

  • 20 ounces good white chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 15 peppermint candy canes, crushed, divided
  • 12 ounces good dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions:

  1. Turn a 9×12 inch baking sheet bottom side up. Cover securely with foil.
  2. Melt half of the white chocolate (I used Ghirardelli) in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently. If you do not have a double boiler you can use a Pyrex bowl over a pot of boiling water, see picture above.
  3. Spread the white chocolate evenly on to the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/4-1/3 of the crushed peppermints evenly over the white chocolate. Chill until firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, melt dark chocolate, heavy cream and peppermint extract together in the top of a double boiler like you did with the white chocolate. Quickly pour the dark chocolate over the chilled white chocolate layer; spread evenly. Chill until firm about 20 minutes.
  5. Finally, melt the remaining white chocolate in the double boiler, stirring frequently. Spread white chocolate over the layers of chocolate. Sprinkle with remaining peppermint pieces; chill until very firm about 1 hour. Cut or break into small pieces and serve!

The Best Cookies You’ll Ever Eat

I found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Food52. Named “Magical Marvelous Memorable Cookies” I was intrigued…Then I saw the ingredients list and I knew I had to make these cookies. If you have left over Halloween candy laying around- these cookies are perfect! Any kind of chocolate will do- these are fun to make because you can really add whatever you like. The result, amazingly crispy (almost like brittle) irresistible – you will eat the whole plate of cookies and much of the raw dough, cookies! ENJOY (I did!)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granola (or other cereal)
  • 1/2 cup crushed salted pretzel pieces (or other salty snack food)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped chocolate candies, or small bar of good dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts, optional (I didn’t add nuts because I used Snickers which already has peanuts)
  • If you don’t add nuts you may want to add more cereal, snacks or chocolate to compensate
  • You may want to add a little cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, or whatever your favorite spice is. I didn’t because I wanted the taste of the granola to come through

Heat the oven to 375. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Whisk flour baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugars at medium-low speed (or hand whisk) until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add Flour mixture and mix until smooth with a wooden spoon. Gradually add granola, pretzels, chocolate and nuts, and mix until well incorporated, ensuring that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed. (Restrain yourself from eating the the dough).

Scoop dough into balls, each about 1 1/2 tablespoons then roll between palms into balls (now its literally impossible not to eat the dough). Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart, 8-12 per sheet. (I did not follow this step exactly.. I tried to get more cookies on the sheet then recommended. These cookies spread A LOT, see picture below. Try to space cookies with plenty of space to bake so they do not stick together.) Freeze dough at least 20 minutes or refrigerate for one hour before baking.

Example of what not to do- add as many cookies as you can fit on the baking sheet.

Bake one sheet at time until cookies are deep golden brown about 13-15 minutes. Let them cool completely on the baking sheets before moving to wire rack. They will be fragile.

Whoops.. one solid cookie… Don’t worry the flavor wasn’t compromised. (I cut cookies apart before they cooled- if you wait until they are cool they will break)

These are even better once they are completely cooled and become crispy. They would be great crumbed over a bowl of ice cream or as is!