The holiday season tastes like peppermint, and most of us can’t get enough. Peppermint mocha brightens the morning, peppermint ice cream makes us dreamy at night, and cute red-and-white striped candy canes evoke festive childhood memories during the hours in between.
While on the topic of peppermint whatevers, I can’t leave out yummy — and trendy — peppermint bark. Who can resist the sweet layers of dark and white chocolate topped with crunchy peppermint bits? The bright holiday tins filled with the confection at high-end kitchenware stores are tempting to buy, but they’re also pricey.
This year, make your own batch or two of peppermint bark with this easy, economical version using ingredients from the baking section and candy aisle of the grocery store. Older kids can melt candy coating (almond bark) in the microwave, while preschoolers pound candy canes into small bits with a toy hammer to sprinkle on top. Working together with you, the entire prep takes less than half an hour. The kids can scoot off to another activity while the bark cools and hardens.
EASY HOLIDAY PEPPERMINT BARK
1 pound good-quality chocolate confectionary coating, broken into pieces. (Look for it in the grocery baking section, sometimes labeled “almond bark” or “candy coating”)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract
12 ounces good-quality white vanilla-flavored confectionery coating, broken into pieces
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
1. Line a baking sheet with foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate coating, uncovered, for 90 seconds on high power, and stir. Continue to microwave and stir at 30-second intervals until almost melted. (Be sure to use a dry bowl and utensils.) Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, and stir until smooth.
3. Pour onto the foil lined baking sheet. Spread evenly into a thin layer, approximately 10 by 14 inches.
4. In another microwave-safe bowl, heat white coating as in step 2. Add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional), and stir until smooth. Spoon evenly over chocolate layer, which should be setting up, but not hard, as you want the white layer to bond with the base layer.
5. Immediately sprinkle peppermint pieces over all and lightly press them into the white layer with a spatula or a spoon. Don’t wait on this step, or the top layer will harden and the candies won’t stick.
6. Let stand for an hour or refrigerate until hardened. Break into pieces. Makes about 1 3/4 pounds.
©2020 Donna Erickson King Features Syndicate