Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Bark

The Christmas Season is such a fun time to make desserts, traditional and new. The candy cane is a symbol for Christmas, and the perfect accent for goodies. The bright colors add a festive perk to any treat, and the sweet, minty flavors sing, "Christmas" (they do!!)

One of my favorite things to do each year, is make Christmas bark. I usually use peppermint (red and white) AND spearmint (green and white) candy canes, together. The flavors blend well, and the red and green together are sooo pretty. This year, we are having flooding rains, and I didnt feel like going out for the spearmint candy canes, so I am making the traditional peppermint version.

The hardest part of this recipe is crushing the candy canes. In years past I have ended up with candy cane dust all over the place. What works best for me, is to put unwrapped candy canes in a plastic zipper bag, and then wrap in a towel (paper or cloth) and lay it flat on a hard surface. I then use a hammer to pound strongly, and firmly, smashing the candy into small pieces.

While smashing up my candy canes, I am simultaneously tempering my white chocolate. I use the Rev 1 tempering unit. It is a commercial grade machine, about the size of a shoebox, designed for at-home use. It takes less than 30 minutes to temper up to 1.5 pounds of chocolate.

At almost every chocolate party, someone mentions that white chocolate is not really chocolate. I tell them that is true for most brands. The FDA has standards for chocolate (basically, that it actually contain chocolate)..and since many companies do not use real cocoa butter, they are not allowed to call their candy, "chocolate", but resort to names like, "candy coating" or "white chocolate flavored candy". Candy melts often found in the baking aisle are not chocolate at all, but flavored animal fat. This is true for the dark chocolate too....you will find "candy coatings" that look like chocolate, but contain nothing from the actual cocoa bean. Dove white chocolate is a true and legal white chocolate, using high quality cocoa butter.

Anyways.....nothing but real chocolate for my bark :)

I then pour the mixture into tempered white chocolate.

Mix the crushed candy cane thoroughly through the chocolate. The large chunks add bright colors, and the dust gets soaked in, flavoring the chocolate.

Spread the chocolate onto parchment paper. You can make it as thin or thick as you want. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Once set up, break into pieces....they look pretty in a bowl or on a platter, and can be packaged into goody bags for gifts.

Id love to see your holiday favorites...feel free to post your treats in the comments.

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