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i’m losing my mind

Recipe: peppermint bark

Busy hands! I am keeping off the streets as there is way too much to get done. I’ve been sewing, growing, making, baking, slicing, dicing…


knitting and sewing

forcing paperwhites

making tags

slicing orange peels



We don’t even celebrate Christmas and I’m quickly going insane over here. While we tell everyone not to give us stuff and we don’t give others stuff, I can’t very well explain this to my 9-year old nephew and my 5-year old niece. Each year I rack my brain trying to come up with something handmade to give them because I think gift-giving is on steroids these days. I used to worry that they wouldn’t care much for my gifts because they get SO MUCH STUFF. They received a lot when my sister was alive, but it really got out of control after she died.

The last time I saw the kids, I was tucking my nephew into bed and he asked me to get his spaceship from the bottom bunk. I saw the plush spaceship pillow I had made for him the year before and handed it up to his outstretched hands. “Hey,” I said, “didn’t I make that?” He hugged it to his chest and nodded, “Uh huh, it’s my favorite.” I smiled and kissed him goodnight. Then I went down to the basement and quietly cried my eyes out.

In the interest of time and sanity, I kept it simple this year and went with custom stockings that will be filled with all sorts of little goodies and educational doodads (plus a cool book for each child). I need to expand my crafts repertoire…


fleece and fuzz for him

fleece and crazy fur for her (she likes pink, okay?)



It doesn’t end there. I do make a point of sending homemade goodies to certain people each year – folks whose hard work we appreciate (or not, in the case of the post office – but who wants to piss off the local post office who handles your mail?). I have an enormous list of sweets and treats and I’m about halfway through. Timing is everything since I’m waiting for the paperwhites to grow tall enough to be presentable and cookies won’t keep for too long before going stale. Some recipients will consume their goodies right away, while others might not get them for a week or more. I have a bloody spreadsheet for who is getting what and when.

hard and soft vanilla bean caramels



I’ll post the caramels another day when my fury has abated. My double batch of candied orange peels are drying now, to be dipped in chocolate later. I made some peppermint bark yesterday, and while I was swearing like a sailor Jeremy quipped, “I seem to recall you saying you’d never make this again the last time you made this.” I have in fact said that about several confections (chocolate-dipped strawberries, petits fours glacés, and candied orange peels to name a few). The problem with confections is that people love them and so I can’t help but make them.

candy canes for smashing

sifting smashed bits



Peppermint bark is actually very easy to make. The reason I hate making it is because I always try to temper the chocolate only to realize after the fact that it isn’t tempered and it doesn’t matter. Instead of smashing the peppermint candy canes or peppermint starlight candies, I suggest using a food processor. I’ve tried smashing them in ziploc bags with hammers or rolling pins, only to put dents in tables, counter tops, rolling pins, and silpats. Once the peppermint is crushed, I sift the powdery bits out from the larger pieces.

spread melted dark chocolate

chopped white chocolate



I used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips. They are my favorite chocolate chips. For peppermint bark, I don’t tend to use the best chocolate I have in my cupboard. Valrhona and Callebaut are saved for things like truffles, flourless chocolate cake, or chocolate soufflé. For the white chocolate, I had some compound Ghirardelli on hand. I am not fond of white chocolate, but of the few I’ve worked with and tasted, I like Callebaut the best.

stirring in the pulverized candy cane dust

layer the white chocolate mixture



After spreading a nice and even layer of melted dark chocolate on a silpat, I placed it in the refrigerator because I’m impatient. I then stirred the candy cane dust/sand into the melted (and cooled) white chocolate. If you stir too much, the whole thing turns pink, so a few folds should be good. Mine still turned pinkish. I suppose you could stir it into the dark chocolate, but because I hate white chocolate, the sandy bits make it more tolerable to me. I then poured and spread the mixture over the cooled dark chocolate and sprinkled the peppermint chunks over the white chocolate layer.

almost done



It helps to press the candy chunks into the white chocolate so that the peppermint bark doesn’t shed candy as much. Let the bark cool completely before breaking or else it won’t break cleanly. Also, I recommend wearing a glove with plastic over it when breaking up the pieces so that 1) your body heat doesn’t melt the chocolate and 2) you don’t leave your finger prints on the chocolate.

distribute



Peppermint Bark
[print recipe]

1 lb. dark chocolate, chopped
1 lb. white chocolate, chopped
12 peppermint candy canes, crushed (about 1 cup)

Melt the dark chocolate and pour onto a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil or a silpat. Spread evenly to desired thickness. Place in refrigerator to harden. Sift peppermint candy to separate the large chunks from the peppermint sand. Melt the white chocolate. When cooled, fold the peppermint sand into the white chocolate taking care not to overmix (and getting pink chocolate instead). Remove dark chocolate from the refrigerator and spread the white chocolate on top. Sprinkle the peppermint chunks evenly over the white chocolate and gently press the pieces into the layer. Refrigerate until hardened. Break the bark into pieces.

62 nibbles at “i’m losing my mind”

  1. Grey Street Girl says:

    Mmmmm…that peppermint bark looks so good. I used to keep a spreadsheet for Christmas too. My duties went away with the divorce though and I can’t say I miss that part of super commercialized Christmas. I’m making handmade gifts this year too. I love that you used silky/satin material inside the bag. I may have to steal that idea from you.

  2. Christina says:

    Epic baking! I need to get on making white chocolate peppermint bark for my brother.

    Awesome bag. I knit, but I’ve never felted anything before, and I’m not sure I can sew all that well.

  3. Lisa says:

    I love Ben’s stocking. emily will love hers too. She loves anything pink. Good job, Jen.

  4. Amanda says:

    Those stockings look so good. I wish I could sew well enough to make stuff for the holidays, but my sewing skills are seriously lacking. I totally need to try that peppermint bark out. The ones at Trader Joes are 10 bucks a container! Talk about a ripoff. It’s good, but not worth that much money when I can just make it at home :)

  5. Dana says:

    I made peppermint bark several years ago and it looked nothing like the gorgeous creation you put up here. I vowed to never make it again, but you have instilled me with confidence. My clients will love a handmade gift. Thanks!

  6. Whitney says:

    I think it is really awesome that you take time to really think about and put your love into the gifts that you give. I am trying to do that this year by buying things from Etsy that other (more creative) people have put their hearts into.

    I think I will have to try this bark…looks amazing (and better than the stuff you can buy!)

  7. Rosa says:

    Indeed, you are very creative and busy! Those barks look nice! A great gift idea…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  8. jenny says:

    Wow, what amazing hand made presents! I hope you manage to keep your sanity and dont make yourself sick overdoing it as I usually do this year! I’m sure everyone really appreciates your gifts though.

    I’m very excited to spend my niece’s first christmas with her, but I’m not a crafty sewing type and I’m not sure I’m allowed to carry much through customs, so I’m going to be happy to give her some stuff from the store, a pair of baby legs and ‘the cat in the hat’ which seems most appropriate since the author came from here.

  9. Manggy says:

    Oh, that Ben is just too cute. I think I would’ve reacted the same way you did. (Shh!) Almost makes you wish they’d stay this way forever ;)
    Ah, the dreaded (tempered) chocolate bark! At least you’ll have an easier time making it next time :) Looks very festive and toothsome!
    Arrh! I cringed a bit when I heard of all the dented stuff. *shudder*

  10. Maja says:

    Oooh, I understand you’re going crazy but this is so what i’d love to be doing right now! I have a closet full of fabric waiting to be transformed into something wonderful and my head is buzzing with recipes i’d like to do and recipes i’d like to find and decorations i’d like to cut out or bake or knit, instead i’m sitting behind my computer way past the deadline for my thesis, feeling guilty. The story with your nephew made me wanna hug you, i think you’re an ideal gift-giver, something sweet, something homemade and durable and something educational. I have a kid sister (well, she’s now almost 17 :)) and two kid brothers (they’re 1 and 3) and i see how much stuff they have gotten or do get and am always trying to give them something from the categories above. It was never hard for the birthdays because my gift was always cake to her (and now their) liking, so we’ve done smurfs, dalmatians, cars, houses, landscapes, penguins, logs, you name it. :) Before my mind goes completely in the holiday mood, i should stop writing this and focus on writing the thesis, i totally agree with you on the white chocolate, btw, just two weeks ago there was a chocolate fair in Bologna, Italy, and we drove there to get our hands on the bestest dark chocolates and cocoas and liquers, and we totally bypassed the white nasty stuff. :)

  11. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    I am so glad I’m not alone in my holiday frenzy. Also glad to see that I am not the only one who keeps a spreadsheet! Thank goodness for Excel during the holidays!

    The stockings rock.

  12. Sarah says:

    I love peppermint bark…might have to make some this year. I love the idea of using the food processor for the candy canes…even though pounding the candy canes with a rolling pin is a great stress reliever!

  13. Fiona says:

    Excellent. Thank you for adding some color to my cookie tray this year. I was stuck in a brown/beige rut.

  14. Culinarywannabe says:

    Wow, that’s quite a schedule! The stockings look great. They will probably have them for years and will cherish the effort you put into making something special for them instead of just buying the latest toy that will be forgotten tomorrow.

  15. Maria says:

    I make this every year. It is so easy and everyone loves it! Yours is gorgeous!

  16. Bridget says:

    Oh man, I’m in NM visiting my family right now, and I’ve seen my nephews everyday I’ve been here except yesterday. I’m leaving in two days, and I’m trying not to think about how much I’m going to cry when I say good-bye to them. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

    Anyway…peppermint bark. I’ve seen this on a lot of blogs, but yours is, of course, the most beautiful and flawless.

  17. Andrea says:

    Next weekend is my cookie baking extravaganza! Sandwiched between the party weekends. I may have to add this to the list. Good luck getting through the crazy, Everyone!

  18. Margie says:

    Glory Bees’, I sure wish I was on the receiving end of that bark! Thanks for sharing the story of the stockings. This is what Christmas is all about. By the way, those are adorable, Jen. (I’m finishing up the touches on a handmade stocking, sounds fancy, but isn’t. I simply don’t have a machine and if I did, well, I’d have to remember how to use it).

    Those orange slices are on my ‘to-do’ list. I haven’t forgotten your earlier post and will be referring to it for inspiration and guidance.

    :)

  19. Asianmommy says:

    I love your ladybug bag & the kids’ stockings.
    You take the best pictures of food! The peppermint bark looks fabulous.

  20. KKLL says:

    Wonder what it would be like if you used spearmint (green) candy canes with the peppermint. Divide the white chocolate and use pink sand in one half and green sand in the other half. You might even be able to “marble” the pink/green mixtures while spreading them on the dark chocolate. You could make a series of stencils and sprinkle the red and green pieces to make nice patterns like those paper cutout snowflakes we used to make as kids.

    Hmmm, maybe I’ll give it try. I have some white and dark chocolate confectionary coating wafers that I can test on. No fuss about tempering, just melt in a microwave and spread.

  21. Lan says:

    i am in awe. you have a spreadsheet to organize everything.

    i will be making this as well this year. my friends will thank me for the sweets but i will fixate their blame on weight gain to you! :)

  22. KKLL says:

    A couple more thoughts…

    You might try sprinkling the sand over the dark chocolate before it sets, then pour the white chocolate after the dark cools, and press in the chunks. I think doing it this way will avoid “pinking” the white chocolate.

    Since you don’t particularly care for white chocolate, you might change the ratio of dark:white, say 1.5 pounds dark and 0.5 pounds white. You’ll get a thicker layer of dark, and should still have enough white to bind the chunks.

    Because white chocolate is so sweet, I would probably use a high percentage dark chocolate, say 65% or higher.

  23. Laura says:

    I also dislike white chocolate and so your bark is the first one I have ever been tempted by. All that pulverized peppermint must seriously improve the white chocolate. I am trying not to over-commit right now but as soon as I come up for air I am trying this! Any thoughts on how long it keeps/how far in advance of giving it can be made?

  24. Jo says:

    I’ve been a fan ever since I found your blog. You have the most awesome recipes and pictures! This is such a delightful and easy treat for christmas. Thanks for sharing!

  25. KKLL says:

    Our office is right next to Costco’s parking lot and one of my friends just came back from a shopping run with a container of Kirkland Peppermint Bark. She offered a piece to me and as soon as I bit into to it, ugh, palm oil.
    There’s no chocolate in the bark, only cocoa, palm oil, milk solids, etc. The only problem with using real chocolate is tempering, but I look at it as a win/win situation. I get to hone my tempering skills and we all get to share in a real chocolate treat.

  26. Mrs Ergül says:

    You’re so lovely to your family and friends and that’s how everyone should be!

    I love that bag you made! (in fact all those goodies too!)

  27. peabody says:

    That is so cool that you still do handmade gifts. The stockings are great.
    Your bark looks good as well.

  28. barbara says:

    I love girls who like pink :)

    Love the peppermint bark.I’ve never seen it before but would love to try making it someday.

    hugs xxoo

  29. Michelle says:

    I love peppermint bark, it’s a Christmas staple for me too but yours looks so much prettier :/ Your blog is awesome! I read it as often as I can.

  30. HappyTummy says:

    what is it about the peppermint and chocolate combo that is just so delicious? it so gets me in the holiday spirit!

    your bark looks fantastic. i want to bite right into it. :)

  31. Kate says:

    Oh my! That bag is so fracking cute! Did you use pieces of felt to make the ladybugs?

    Lovely story about your nephew. I think I shall be making a truck pillow for someone this year. Isn’t wonderful when little ones appreciate the simple things? I have stressed out and bought a stupid expensive truck as a present because I thought my nephew would equate value spent to his value in my life. WRONG!

    Thanks for the words Jen.

  32. Jessica says:

    You’re a machine! I aspire to be able to make all these homemade goodies for my loved ones this time of year, but it just never seems to happen. I’m settling by baking a ton of cookies this weekend and inviting everyone over to decorate them. Maybe next year I can tackle one of your recipes!

  33. Passionate Eater says:

    Your niece and nephew are lucky to have an auntie like you! I love their colored stockings–all the kids in our house just have the generic red stockings with white fur trim. And that’s all they get.

  34. Momisodes says:

    This has to be the best looking peppermint bark recipe I’ve seen yet. Thank you so much for sharing this! I will have to try making this to hand out as goodies next week :)

  35. Nate says:

    Those stockings are adorable. The kids will love them.

  36. Graeme says:

    You don’t stop.
    You actually do not ever stop! :)

  37. ingrid says:

    Your story was touching. Just goes to show you that the things children love are usually the ones we least expect. While we do celebrate Christmas we try not get out of control.

    On Sunday I tried making peppermint bark using another receipe. I had a couple of issues. The first was that I wasted two bags of white chocolate chips trying to melt them to a pourable consistancy(never really happened) and my chocolate layers separated. Help?!
    Thank you!
    ~ingrid

  38. Manisha says:

    You’re just too much!

    Oh and I love that felted bag!

  39. Amy says:

    Wow, Jen, that bag is GREAT!! And I was thinking of making peppermint bark this weekend for gifts – so glad to see your post. Good idea to sift out the pulverized candy cane powder from the larger chunks!

  40. White On Rice Couple says:

    We feel the same way about Christmas gift giving. It’s harder for kids these days cause they all want $$$$$ electronic stuff. Homemade beauties like this peppermint bark is great! Todd makes this for Christmas gifts too and I think I end up eating them faster than he can ship them out. And remember, I’m not a “sweet” gal.

    Love FLEECE!! Those fleece stockings are so great! I wish I was more crafty. I need lesson on skiing and crafting from you now. What’s your rate?!

  41. Penny says:

    Hi Jen, I cannot believe I just discovered your blog three days ago. I have pretty much spent the past three nights catching up with what I’ve been missing all these years. I just finished 2008, and am thrilled beyond belief that I have so many more years to cover. I have found the PERFECT blog for me! Some food, some recipes, some pretty pictures, a cutie pie husband, DOGS, more food, and then some no nonsense commentary that just ties it all together.

    Last night I started thinking that you should have a TV show, then I decided that ‘no’, you should publish a book or two or three that I could read when I am curled up on my couch. However, tonight I decided that I had discovered you in just the right place…a place where so many, many others, just like me or not, can stop in and feel so much better for doing that. Thank you for sharing, and in so doing, making my world a finer place.

  42. jenyu says:

    GSG – yeah, I hear ya. I wouldn’t miss it at all either. Awesome that you’re making gifts too! It means so much more :)

    Christina – felting is fuuuuuuun! You should try it! You can still knit a bag without a lining (this was the first time I sewed onto something I felted).

    Lisa – thanks mom :) xxoo

    Amanda – mine really aren’t that advanced (or even basic, now that I think of it!) You think $10 a container is a lot? Williams-Sonoma charges something like $25! Such a rip off.

    Dana – I had issues the first time I made peppermint bark. Practice helps :)

    Whitney – thanks. I think giving a gift is really an extension of giving a part of yourself! But your idea of getting etsy gifts is great.

    Rosa – thanks sweetie!

    Jenny – I’m done now and no sickie!! yay!!!! If she’s a baby, you have time :) I have about 7 baby quilts to make before they graduate from college ;)

    Mark – Ben is a very sweet boy, to be sure. toothsome is such a great word ;) Yes, the peppermint bark has claimed many victims in my kitchen equipment… never again! ha! meet Mr. Cuisinart!

    Maja – good luck finishing your thesis writing (I *know* how hard that is… believe you me!). I hope your siblings love the presents you give them.

    Lisa – oh, we’re such dorks, aren’t we? :)

    Sarah – great stress relief until I see all the damage the candies do to my work surfaces :( wahhhhnnnnn

    Fiona – what? you don’t add ooooodles of food coloring? ;) brown and beige are still quite happy-making.

    Culinarywannabe – awww, thanks!

    Maria – thank you!

    Bridget – I hope you had a great time with your nephews and family. *waving hi since you’re in neighboring state* Thanks :)

    Andrea – well, my crazy is done! Enjoy your crazy and have fun at the parties.

    Margie – I used to hand-sew small things, until I learned to use an awesome little sewing machine my MIL gave me. Then I gave it to my grandma and bought one for myself to use. I *love* it. So fast and I can make so much stuff now!

    Asianmommy – thanks!

    KKLL – I personally dislike spearmint, so that would be a no go. I also think pink and green (or red and green) are atrocious together except in certain settings (like natural), but I know lots of people dig that, so perhaps it would work great? Problem with a sanding layer is that it is a plane of weakness (much like in a snowpack that is prime for avalanche) and will likely separate when broken. I use dark chocolate 60% cocoa or more in general.

    Lan – ah ha ha! Okay :)

    Laura – yes, I think it makes it muuuuch better. If kept in an airtight container, I would say it should last at least a week – maybe more? I mean, how long can those retail canisters of bark last? Probably a while :)

    Jo – thank you!

    Mrs E – thank you, hon. Hope you are doing well. xxoo

    Peabody – awww, thanks chica. Coming from the baking queen, I am really honored :)

    Barbara – you’d get a kick out of Emily. She is fearless and adorable :) If I can temper the chocolate properly, I’ll send you some xxoo

    Michelle – thanks :)

    HappyTummy – I really love it too. Thanks!

    Kate – actually, after I knitted the bag, but before felting, I knitted the bugs on. Then I felted the whole thing. Worked out!

    Jessica – that is a cool idea! I would do it except I don’t have many baking/cooking friends nearby :(

    Passionate Eater – well, these kids are my connection to my late sister, so I tend to spoil them (but I try to do it in a good way!)

    Momisodes – thank you!

    Nate – I hope so :)

    Graeme – I can’t! I can stop when I’m dead ;)

    Ingrid – good policy! oooooh, that sucks. For melting white chocolate, try a water bath, or you can microwave it on 50% power for 30 seconds at a time, stopping to check and stir until it melts. Use a good quality white instead of cheap stuff… it will melt better (b/c it contains more cocoa butter than fillers). Ghirardelli, Lindt, Callebaut, Guittard. Use gentle heat to avoid burning the chocolate. The other thing about separating (which I have experience with!) is that the white chocolate needs to be warm enough to 1) pour and 2) sort of melt onto the dark chocolate layer so when it cools, they are bound together rather than separating. Hope that helps? Email me if you run into more trouble.

    Manisha – thanks sweetie.

    Amy – thank you! I gave it to my aunt (as a thank you – not for xmas) and she loves it. I like the little candy powder in the white chocolate, neat texture!

    WoRC – I know… kids today! ;) You are so funny. I can see you sneaking pieces of peppermint bark while Todd is cranking it out and the pups are like, “hey yo, what about us?!” My rate for you is your AWESOME cooking. Will trade for food ;)

    Penny – well, I’m really flattered and pleased that you enjoy the blog and my mindless drivel :) Thanks for commenting.

  43. Chez Us - Denise says:

    You are a woman of many talents – I love the little jars with bulbs (reminded me to dig out my paperwhites and get them going) and all the wonderful baking! Truly inspiring you are!!!!

  44. Tuquynh says:

    Hey Jen!

    I just wanted to say i LOVE your site and me and my work buddies look at your gorgeous pictures whenever our lab experiments go wrong! I am making this peppermint bark recipe for my boyfriernd this week and he’s super excited so thanks!:) Goodluck with all your crazy candy making!

  45. Jeni says:

    Thanks for sharing this peppermint bark recipe. I made it this weekend and it was huge hit. So easy (well except for the cutting, that was super messy) and so much better and cheaper then the store bought stuff!!!!

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  47. cindy says:

    I just made bark the other day, but yours looks so much nicer, and now I know why: the dust trick. You are such a smarty pants.

  48. jenyu says:

    Chez Us – thanks :)

    Tuquynh – awww, thanks. I hope your experiments go right sometimes too!

    Jeni – awesome.

    Cindy – no, YOU are the smarty pants :) I just pick up nifty tricks from other smart people. xxoo

  49. Debby says:

    We made your recipe and it tastes GREAT. The layers were stuck together but when we cut it the chocolates separated. Did you use a special knife to cut the bark?

  50. jenyu says:

    Debby – see what I wrote to Ingrid above. I think it’s important that the dark chocolate is not too much colder than the white. I’d let it sit at room temp and then make sure when you pour the white that it is warm enough to bind to the dark chocolate. I didn’t use a knife to cut the bark, but broke it with my hands (see in my post, I mention using oven mitts with plastic over them to prevent melting the chocolate with your body heat and avoiding finger prints). Hope that helps!

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  52. The Hip Hostess says:

    You are inspirational in many ways! The peppermint bark recipe looks great and it is so expensive to purchase so making it is a great option. While I love it on it’s own I also LOVE peppermint bark in cookies this time of year. Check out the recipe on my blog: http://hiphostess.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/peppermint-bark-chocolate-chip-cookies/

    Thanks for the post!

  53. jenyu says:

    Hip Hostess – thanks, that’s so nice of you to say. Hope you had a great holiday!

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  56. Bailey says:

    I used the double boiler method to melt both the dark and white chocolate. I let the dark chocolate set up while the white chocolate was metling. It appeared to be firm when I poured the white chocolate over it, however when I began to spread it the dark and white chocolate started to swirl together. Should I have waited longer to pour the white chocolate? I’m thinking that either my dark chocolate hadn’t set up long enough or the white chocolate was still too warm when I poured it. Any thoughts?

  57. jenyu says:

    Bailey – Both of those thoughts are what I’m thinking. If the dark hasn’t set up, it will obviously swirl together. If the white is too hot, it will melt the dark when they come into contact. I suggest letting the dark set completely. Then after melting the white, let it cool. If you temper the white chocolate, it should go on without any problems (but tempering can be tricky if you haven’t done it before).

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  59. Doon says:

    So, I also had Bailey’s problem with the white chocolate chips melting the dark chocolate, but they also never melted into a nice smooth consistency. The white stayed a bit grainy, even melting at Low. I could not have spread it at all if I had cooled it any. I used Tollhouse white chips. Not good enough quality for candy?
    Thanks,

  60. jenyu says:

    Doon – huh, that’s strange :\ I’ve never used Tollhouse white chips before. You *may* want to attempt with a better quality white chocolate (some white chips are not actual white chocolate). I’d do a test melt on a small amount so you don’t waste time or $ on a whole batch. Good luck! xo

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