Dark Chocolate Lover’s Peppermint Bark
There must be a good number of us out there—those dark chocolate lovers who nibble peppermint bark each December but wish it contained a little less white chocolate (or maybe no white chocolate at all). In an effort to satisfy these longings, I decided to make a Dark Chocolate Lover’s Peppermint Bark, a bark containing significantly more dark chocolate than white chocolate.
Choose Your Chocolate
I knew the peppermint bark would only be as good as the ingredient I used, so I decided to use Scharffen-Berger 70% Bittersweet Chocolate and Green & Black’s White Chocolate. When choosing white chocolate, buy one that contains cocoa butter—only true white chocolate contains cocoa butter; the others are considered confectionary coatings and are often derived from animal or hydrogenated fats. I was really impressed with Green & Black’s White Chocolate Bar. It was not too sweet, had a lovely vanilla scent and smooth, creamy texture that was not at all chalky.
Now that you have your chocolate, the next thing to decide is whether or not you want to temper your chocolate. Tempering is a process of heating and cooling chocolate that professional Chocolatiers use to make a chocolate that is glossy and hard and snaps when eaten. Another benefit of tempering chocolate is that it doesn’t melt at room temperature, so you don’t have to refrigerate it. Tempering does take more time and attention than simply melting chocolate, but the result is well worth the effort. (Since tempering is a complex and precise process and I am still a novice, I’ve included a link to an About.com page explaining how to temper chocolate rather than write my own instructions.)
You’ll notice that my peppermint bark is quite thick. In fact, it’s a little too thick. Next time I’ll spread the melted chocolate thinly on a baking sheet rather than pouring it into a glass dish. To make sure it remains a Dark Chocolate Lover’s Peppermint Bark, I’ll maintain the rough 3:1 ratio of dark to white chocolate. The Green & Black’s White Chocolate bar, however, was so surprisingly tasty that I might even consider a 2:1 ratio of dark to white chocolate. (Could I still call it Dark Chocolate Lover’s Peppermint Bark?!) The fun thing about making peppermint bark is that you can play around with the ingredients and ratios and make it just how you like it.
One 9.7 ounce bar Scharffen-Berger Bittersweet 70% dark chocolate, chopped
One 3.5 ounce bar Green & Black’s white chocolate, chopped
6 peppermint candy canes
Please note: you can use however much or whatever kind of chocolate you like; these are just the examples of what I used.
Make the Dark Chocolate Lover’s Peppermint Bark:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In a double boiler, melt or temper* the dark chocolate. Since I don’t have a double-boiler, I set a glass bowl over a small saucepan filled with water as a substitute. Stir the chocolate frequently with a rubber spatula.
- Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, pour it onto the baking sheet, spreading with an offset spatula until it is as thick as you like it. Bear in mind that the warmer the chocolate, the more it will spread. (If you want a really thick bark like I made, pour it into a 9 x 6 inch glass baking dish). Place the chocolate in the refrigerator to cool.
- Melt or temper* the white chocolate in the double-boiler, just as you did with the dark chocolate.
- Meanwhile, crush the candy canes into small bits by placing them in a plastic bag and smashing them with a rolling pin. You may want to double-bag the candy canes to avoid getting candy cane dust all over your counter.
- Remove the dark chocolate from the refrigerator. Let it come back to room temperature so it’s not terribly cold when you pour the white chocolate on top.
- Once the white chocolate is melted, stir a few spoonfuls of candy cane bits into it. I like to use the dust and smaller pieces for mixing inside the white chocolate and reserve the larger chunks for sprinkling on the top.
- Spread the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate as evenly as you can.
- Sprinkle the remaining candy cane bits on top and press lightly with your hand to make sure they stick.
- Chill the peppermint bark until it is firm, about an hour. Break or slice the bark into pieces. If you tempered the chocolate, you can store it on the counter. Otherwise, store it in the refrigerator.
*If you’re interested in tempering chocolate, check out this post from About.com explaining in depth how to temper chocolate.