Making chocolate candies can seem intimidating to a beginner, but a chocolate bark is a good place to start! You just spread a layer (or layers) of melted chocolate and top with whatever ingredients you like. One of my favorites is a salted caramel chocolate bark, but this Peppermint Bark is one I always make for friends and family at Christmastime. It’s a lovely Christmas gift, especially if you package it in see-through cellophane bags and tie them shut with pretty ribbons or string.
I usually take the chocolate out of the microwave when there’s still some small unmelted pieces because the residual heat will eventually melt them if you keep stirring, and it’s an easy way to prevent it from overheating. Also, if you’re worried your chocolate got too hot, drop in a few new pieces of the same kind of chocolate, since it was already tempered when you bought it. It will melt in, bringing down the temperature of the whole bowl of chocolate. Chocolate will have white streaks in it (this is called bloom) and not be crisp if the chocolate’s temperature rises above 91 F. The shine and crisp texture of chocolate means it is tempered. Different chocolates have different tempering ranges with dark chocolate slightly higher than milk chocolate.
I know this might sound daunting, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be churning out shiny truffles and crisp barks in no time! If you want to learn more about how and why chocolate is tempered, biochemist Shirley Corriher’s explanation is easy to understand, as is this blog post by David Lebovitz.
8 oz peppermint candies or candy canes
12 oz dark chocolate chips
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
12 oz good quality white chocolate
½ tsp peppermint extract
2.Mix the dark chocolate chips with the vegetable oil in a large microwave-safe bowl.
3. Microwave at 50% power until melted, about 1 ½- 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
4. Spread the melted dark chocolate in an even layer on a small parchment-lined sheet pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to help set the chocolate.
5. When the dark chocolate is fairly firm to the touch, melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at 50%, stirring every 30 seconds.
6. Spread the melted white chocolate in an even layer on top of the dark chocolate layer, then immediately sprinkle on the smashed peppermints or candy canes.
7. Refrigerate again for 30 minutes or until the white chocolate is set.
8. Break up the bark into irregular pieces. It will keep at room temperature for several weeks, if you don’t eat it all first.