Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Easy Christmas Sweets: Peppermint Bark & Dipped Marshmallows

I had a baking day last weekend with my childhood friend-for-eva. Except she did more baking and I did more melting. It was actually a great combo. We each got oodles of cookies & candy at the end of the day! Peppermint Bark is a staple around here for the Christmas season. And nobody lets me 'forget' to make it. But I did want to change it up a bit this year. Basically, the standard method goes like this:

Prep: Bags of white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is the best & its usually goes on sale for the month of December, I stock up by buying a few bags each week), bottle of peppermint extract (almost always out of stock in December, so buy in November!), candy canes & wax paper.

This would be far more interesting and fun if I had taken pictures during all this, but your hands get suuuper sticky (at least mine do!) so I try to avoid touching anything I don't have to! So I don't blame you if skip down past all my blabbing and just photo gaze.

1. Unwrap your candy canes (about 1 box of 12 per 4 bags of chocolate sounds about right). Put your unwrapped candy canes into a gallon size baggie and place this in a tupperware container because the bag will tear a bit as you break up the candy. Call on your little-big brother(s), husband, dad or anyone really and have them smash those canes to pieces with a mallet, muddler, rolling pin...whatever works. This is definitely a part of the process people don't mind helping with. Or if you're feeling particularly
 stressed this season, have at it yourself!

2. Put 1 bag of  white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and add a couple drops of peppermint extract.

3. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir.

4. Microwave again for 20-30 seconds. This is usually enough for the chocolate to be melted and not burnt. White chocolate burns QUICK. Thus, I melt it in the microwave, it's much easier to control the amount of heat exposure vs. using a double-boiler. You may still have a few lumps after two rounds in the microwave, but if you stir, they go away. Avoid re-heating a third time, it pretty much always ends in brown, chalky used- to-be chocolate.

5. Spread the white chocolate out onto wax paper (think like you're icing a sheet cake, not too thick & not too thin). Sprinkle with candy cane bits & dust and let cool. It only takes thirty minutes or so for the chocolate to be hardened up enough to break into pieces.

Isn't it so festive looking? It's also very festive smelling.

And for the change-up this year, I made a few batches like this:

I purchased a snowflake candy mold from Micheals (by Martha Stewart, $1.49 on clearance!!). I put the candy pieces in first and then spooned in the chocolate on top. I added some milk chocolate too, from another experiment, and I put the left-overs in as a middle layer between the candy cane bits and white chocolate. Since these were pretty thick, I cooled them in the freezer. 

One last thing. I've been admiring all these cake pops that seem to be popping up everywhere. But I'm a little intimidated to try making them just yet, so I'm easing into it with dipped marshmallows. 

Melt milk chocolate (pretty hard to burn, so zap it or double boil it). Stick lollipop sticks (also found at Michaels) into the marshmallows, dip in chocolate and sprinkle with candy cane bits & let cool. Bonus: the lopsided marshmallows become round and plump again with the chocolate coating.

So, there it is. Two easy Christmas treats. And these aren't too particular in method, so you can kick back and visit with a friend, family member or offspring while creating. Nothing better than chocolate to bring all your loved ones together, right?!


  1. Loved it!! So much fun :) Ben is obsessed with your peppermint bark, by the way... we might be on the list for next year! <3

  2. Yay! Another convert :) You got it!