November 12, 2012
Triple-Layer Peppermint Bark
Several years ago my parents ordered some peppermint bark from William's Sonoma for a Christmas treat.
Since then, there hasn't been Christmas without it. It was a pricey expenditure, but if you've had it, you know... It is worth it.
Of course, that is, until now. ;)
Yes, that's right: I have a Copycat William's Sonoma Peppermint Bark recipe. But -- wait for it -- not only is it a "copycat" recipe...I maintain that it exceeds the taste and texture of the original. Husband, the candy connoisseur of this household, declares that my peppermint bark puts the W.S. product to shame. (I do suppose that makes it only a "semi-copycat" recipe. So William's Sonoma could be *technically* correct when they advertise that their pretty candy "is often copied but never matched in quality or flavor.")
What sets this bark apart from most others is its three layers. The center is delicately minty, rich and just so very slightly soft so that you get this sophisticated balance between the buttery, firm white chocolate and the occasional crisp crunch of the peppermint candy pieces.
It's a lovely, absolutely lovely, little confection.
As my three-and-a-half year old boy solemnly declared as soon as the last piece was consumed: "You will make more of this in the morning."
Why yes, my son, in fact I think I will.
Triple-Layer Peppermint Bark
17 ounces high-quality white chocolate (must be made with real cocoa butter), chopped
20 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed (about 4 ounces), divided
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 63% cacao), chopped
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil (can substitute with 3/4 teaspoon good quality peppermint extract)
- Many Walmart stores now carry Guittard chocolate and white chocolate chips, which is the same brand of chocolate William's Sonoma uses. You may also find them at a local specialty grocer. Find them and buy them. The success of this recipe is dependent entirely on the quality of the chocolate you use. (Of course you can buy really, really expensive stuff if you wish -- but I don't think it's necessary.)
- Regular "Starbright" peppermint candies work just great in this recipe, but you can also use candy canes. For less mess, tap them gently while they're still in the wrapper (or in a plastic Ziploc bag) using a 14-16 oz. can. I didn't want the fine peppermint pieces in my bark, so I used a strainer afterward to sift the larger chunks out.
- I used LorAnn's Pure Peppermint Oil in my bark. Once again, you can find it at Walmart! Look in their craft/cake/candy-making section, not the grocery aisle. A little goes a LONG way.
TIP: To keep the white chocolate layer from remelting when you add the bittersweet chocolate, pour the bittersweet chocolate mixture in three lines down the length of the baking sheet. This speeds up the spreading so that there isn't time for the white chocolate to melt.
Turn large baking sheet bottom side up. Cover securely with foil. Mark 10 x 9-inch rectangle on foil.
Stir white chocolate in metal or glass bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) until chocolate is melted and smooth and candy thermometer registers 110°F. (It will feel warm - not hot - to the touch). Remove from over water. Pour half of the melted white chocolate onto rectangle on foil and set aside. Using an icing or regular spatula, spread chocolate to fill rectangle. Sprinkle with half of the crushed peppermints. Chill until set - at least 15 minutes.
Stir bittersweet chocolate, cream and peppermint oil in another metal or glass bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water until just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. (This step is important - don't skip it. If you don't let it cool, it will melt your white chocolate and while it will still taste fine, it won't look as pretty.) Quickly pour bittersweet chocolate mixture in long lines over white chocolate rectangle. Using your (clean and dry!) spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate in even layer. Refrigerate until very cold and firm - at least 25 minutes.
Rewarm remaining white chocolate that was left in the bowl by again setting it over barely simmering water until it registers about 110°F. Working quickly, pour white chocolate in lines over firm bittersweet chocolate layer; spread to cover. Immediately sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.
Lift foil with bark onto work surface; trim edges. Cut bark crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Using metal spatula, slide bark off foil and onto work surface. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections and each section diagonally into 2 triangles.
Refrigerate the bark in an airtight container. Can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Happy "bark"-ing! ;)
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