Sunday, December 16, 2012

Peppermint Bark

Today I am thankful.

Thankful for a dreary, rainy Sunday that started when Sydney woke us up at 7:30 in the morning instead of letting us sleep in.

Thankful for a warm shower followed by the happy success of fitting into an outfit for church.

Thankful for my off-key singing of Christmas hymns.

Thankful for my Eggs Benedict brunch where we celebrated our friends' recent engagement.

Thankful for seeing my nephew, who will be a year old (!!) next Sunday, happily chomping on rice puffs and cantaloupe, haphazardly experimenting with talking gulps of water from his mom's water glass.

Thankful to come home and be bored with nothing to do but watch bad Christmas movies and chew on Tums to ward off the joys of acid reflux.

Thankful to eat leftover pizza for dinner and spend the evening making peppermint bark and other holiday sweets.

Thankful for taking a break from the kitchen and watching football with Jason, as he explains yet another rule I never knew (and probably could have gone my entire life without knowing).

Last Sunday I certainly would not have been as purposely thankful for a day like today. But then, last Sunday was not juxtaposed with one of the year's most tragic man-made events. I hope that you, too, are thankful today for the often unrecognized pleasures of simply living.

Peppermint Bark
Kelley Gondring

A couple of things before you get started:

First, I adapted this recipe so that instead of using a double boiler to melt the chocolates (because I don't have one and find it annoying to use a makeshift one), I use the microwave. The key to using a microwave as opposed to the double boiler is to microwave in short increments and after each increment to thoroughly mix the chocolates. This is to assure that the heat is evenly distributed and that chocolate doesn't get so hot that it burns. If you chocolate hasn't completely melted after following the instructions below, microwave it in 15 second increments followed by 10 second stirring until smooth and melted.

Second, because buying high quality baking chocolate can get expensive, it is tempting to use chocolate chips, which are far cheaper. If you choose to do so, remember that chocolate chips are designed not to melt into a puddle but instead keep their shape when put in high heat. This means that if you are microwaving chocolate chips instead of baking chocolate, it is going to take more time, thus you are going to have to be more patient!

Keeping these two things in mind, invert a 12"x9" cookie sheet and cover with a piece of waxed paper or aluminum foil (if using aluminum foil, you can wrap it on the lip of the cookie sheet; if using waxed paper, you'll need a bit of tape). Set aside.

In a small glass bowl, microwave for 30 seconds:
5 ounces white chocolate
Use fork to mix the chocolate. Place back in microwave for an additional 30 seconds. If chocolate is completely melted, pour onto cookie sheet and use spatula to evenly spread in a rectangle.

Dust with:
1/4 cup smashed peppermint candies
Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium glass bowl, microwave for 45 seconds:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
Use a fork to mix chocolate (it will not be completely melted yet).

1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup whipping cream

Place back in microwave for an additional 45 seconds. Remove and use fork to mix together. If the chocolate is completely melted at this point, pour over the white chocolate and use a spatula to evenly spread.

Refrigerate until chocolate has hardened (about 30 minutes).

In a medium glass bowl, microwave for 45 seconds:
12 ounces white chocolate
Use a fork to mix the chocolate. Microwave an additional 45 seconds. Again use fork to mix. Pour over the hardened semisweet chocolate and use spatula to evenly spread.

Immediately sprinkle overtop of the melted white chocolate:
1 cup smashed peppermint candies

Place in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened (about 30 minutes).

Remove the waxed paper from atop the inverted cookie sheet and place on cutting board. Use a sharp butcher knife to cut into squares.

Keep refrigerated before eating.

Eat up!

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