2014 Holiday Cookie Roundup + Peppermint Bark Troubleshooting

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DSC_6702Holiday baking is one of my fondest childhood memories, every year my Grandma and I would spend hours in the kitchen creating all kinds of amazing treats, and testing new and old recipes. Today I live about a 6 hour drive from my Grandma so while we don’t get to bake together too often anymore, it’s still something I absolutely have to do during the holiday season and it’s a tradition I can’t wait to pass on when I have a family of my own. One of my all time most requested recipes is Peppermint Bark, which is so easy you don’t need a recipe, but sometimes things can go wrong since chocolate is temperamental, below I will share a few of my Peppermint Bark disasters over the years and how to fix or avoid them!

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First let’s do the recipe roundup of the above treats! 

Shown from Centre to Counter-Clockwise:

Shortbread (No recipe I just do a basic 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of sugar recipe and change it up a bit every so often. This year I used powdered sugar instead of granulated which gives it a more tender texture and added a touch of vanilla extract and almond extract, they came out beautifully).

Butter’s Famous Marshmallows (adapted: see my adaptation HERE)

Triple Ginger Cookies 

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies  (with half of the chocolate chips substituted with holiday white chocolate chips)

Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars

Caramelized Matzoh Crunch with Chocolate

Peppermint Bark

Okay so let’s talk peppermint bark! It’s really simple, you melt some chocolate and add crushed candy canes and peppermint extract if you like. I’ve made it every year for about 7 years I’d say and over the years have hit a few snags.

1. DO NOT mix peppermint extract into melted white chocolate chips, I haven’t tried every brand but with Chipits brand at least, the peppermint extract will cause the white chocolate to seize up and turn into a hardened crumbly mess, one year I wasted 3 bags of white chocolate chips…never again! I skip peppermint extract all together now and just use a lot of crushed candy cane, I think it gives it a more subtle flavour anyway.

2. If you decide to do layers of chocolate, as I always do (dark on the bottom and white on top) be careful not to chill the bottom layer too long in the fridge before pouring on the next layer. If the bottom layer hardens too much, when you put the top layer on and chill them, they actually won’t be able to stick together and you’ll be left with just broken and separated pieces of chocolate. This year I forgot about that rule and when I started breaking my bark I noticed it was separating, I had flashbacks to years before of failed bark and decided there must be a way to fix it. I turned the oven on a really low setting 275 degrees and just popped the whole pan in until the chocolate was melted (but not the candy cane bits, about 10 minutes) then I let it cool on the counter for a while before popping it in the fridge and TA-DA my bark was fixed!! Christmas was saved, okay a bit dramatic but I was thrilled!

Have you run into any other peppermint bark problems? Let me know your problems and fixes in the comments.

Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!