I’ve been making peppermint bark for a few years. It’s my Christmas specialty. I’ve experimented with different brands of chocolate, candy canes, and peppermint extract vs. peppermint oil, and when I make my annual trip to buy mass quantities of Belgian chocolate, inevitably the shop keeper and other patrons ask me what I’m making. This sparks interesting discussions in the line-up about the best way to achieve a perfect bark, like so:
I send it to my family and Boyfriend’s family. This year, I wanted to make bark, plus a surprise that Boyfriend and I collaborated on. The surprise will not be unveiled for a few days, but I’ll teach you how to make bark today.
One popular bark flavour is using all-white chocolate with red canes, but I prefer a bark that is 2 parts white chocolate to 1 part semi-sweet, using the traditional red, green, and white candy canes per batch.
Good to know before you start:
The chocolate must be tempered, so review my how-to guide before trying this.
Buying candy canes after Christmas is an exercise in futility, lots of places sell out. I buy the canes in Nov, and pick up the Callebaut chocolate in Dec. Whether or not to use peppermint extract or peppermint oil depends on your taste preference, I prefer the oil which I order online from Golda’s Kitchen.
Working with chocolate, you must make sure EVERY dish and implement is completely dry. A drop of water will cause the chocolate to seize.
Wear latex gloves while handling chocolate to prevent the natural oils in your skin from blemishing it. The heat of your hands will also melt it, wearing gloves helps reduce the heat a bit.
(By the way, that picture is all the chocolate I purchased this year, not just the portion I used for my bark. I just like looking at all of it together.)
Time required: 5 hours
Yields: enough for 7 households
Total cost: depends on the quality of chocolate, and since it’s a gift I’m not going to say
Special kitchen implements I used:
- chocolate thermometer
- 2 cookie trays: 18″ x 12″ and 14″ x 10″
- wax paper
- large freezer bag
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
- 16 oz white chocolate
- a few drops of peppermint oil (I use LorAnn oils)
- 6 jumbo Allan peppermint candy canes
1. Line baking trays with wax paper.
2. Use a serrated blade to chop the semi-sweet chocolate. Weigh out 8 oz, and divide it between two bowls: two thirds in one, one third in the other. Temper the chocolate and stir in one drop of peppermint oil.
3. Pour the chocolate into the trays, spreading evenly with a spatula. Chill in fridge for at least 10 minutes.
Take a break to wash and dry your bowls and chocolate thermometer, they must be bone dry.
4. Unwrap the candy canes, place into freezer bag, and HULK SMASH!! Hammer away until you’ve got a bag of itty-bitty pieces, and set them aside.
5. Chop the white chocolate, and temper it too! Stir in 2-3 drops of peppermint oil.
6. Stir crushed canes into white chocolate.
7. Immediately pour onto first layer and spread evenly with spatula.
Let the trays sit on the counter for 15 min, this gives the white chocolate time to bond to the semi-sweet. Once I forgot to do that, and the white never really adhered to the bottom layer. :[
8. Chill in fridge for at least 3 hours.
9. When you are ready to cut it into pieces, remove the wax paper from the bottom and let it sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes. Use a heavy blade to cut into strips.
10. Place into tins, separate each layer with a piece of waxed paper.
11. Keep in the fridge. Allow the pieces to sit at room temp for 10 minutes before eating.
12. See all that bark dust on the cutting board? Save it as a garnish for hot chocolate with steamed milk, or pancakes!!
Verdict: When I started out making bark, I used to make it with equal parts of each chocolate. My sister Chocoholic suggested decreasing the semi-sweet. I followed her advice and was really pleased with the result. Bark has a strong flavour so a thin piece is fine, using the 2:1 ratio results in perfect, delicious bark. Merry Christmas!
Playlist: Type O Negative – Hey Pete