and so it begins. at least i waited until after thanksgiving to bring out the christmas baking, right? given that half the stores i visited in october had christmas displays up, i think waiting until now to share some chocolate peppermint bark love is really quite restrained (or cruel, given how easy and totally delicious this bark is).
so, before we go any farther, i feel compelled to disclose something: this chocolate peppermint bark recipe calls for oreo thin crisps that come in little 100 calorie packs. i’m sure some of you are thinking, “um, ok? so what?” it’s just that i don’t make a *ton* of recipes that call for specific, not terrifically healthy packaged foods.
here’s how i think about it though: i made a yummy easy 4 ingredient gingersnap icebox cake last year that i didn’t have any qualms about. and there’s a blueberry banana gingersnap tart that i love that calls for cookie crumbs. so either, i only feel ok about using packaged gingersnaps (totally possible, because ginger is my love language) ooooor i was getting hung up on the 100 calorie pack part.
i considered using famous chocolate wafers (see related: hung up on the 100 calorie packs situation) but when i was in the store comparing the labels, i discovered that the chocolate wafers have high fructose corn syrup and the oreo thin crisps don’t. so, you know, the thin crisps are way healthier (please, *please* promise me that you are picturing me rolling me eyes…).
really it came down to the texture: the wafers are very crumbly (hence being used in so many cookie crusts for pies) and the thin crisps are…heartier? sturdier? i don’t know, they don’t disintegrate into crumbs, which means they can provide some crispy, crunchy bits, which turns out to be *one* of the things that makes this chocolate peppermint bark so irresistible.
other irresistible qualities: dark chocolate. peppermint. the end. that’s right, 3 ingredients to irresistibility. aaaaand since i co-opted the chocolate melting method from a cook’s illustrated recipe for millionaire’s shortbread, we don’t even have to store this bark in the fridge (though on second thought, having it stare at me from the countertop proved, well, irresistible. don’t say i didn’t warn you…).
the cook’s illustrated method for melting the chocolate is sort of a cheater’s tempering. they go into more of the science but the bottom line is that by only melting most of the chocolate, gently, and then stirring in the rest of the chocolate (which has been finely grated), we can get the chocolate to set nicely when it cools and have the snap of a chocolate bar, rather than instantly starting to melt all over your fingers the moment you pick it up.
so now we have delicious chocolate peppermint bark that is chocolatey, crispy, crunchy, and minty. in other words, perfect for holiday gift giving, if you can manage to get it out of the house fast enough that there’s a reasonable amount left such that you can even call it a gift. i’ve heard some people struggle with that… (i really did mean to send the container full of chocolate peppermint bark with my husband when he went to work. it’s just that, well, it wasn’t really “full”, per se, anymore…)
on second thought, maybe just make a double batch and use up that whole box of 100 calorie packs…
ps – totally unrelated to chocolate peppermint bark, except that i am really liking both of them: ebates (affiliate link). a fellow blogger whom i trust recommended ebates recently and i thought, “what the heck, all of my online activity is already being tracked anyway, i may as well sign up and earn a few dollars as cash back.”
i’ve already earned over $24 cash back since i signed up 2 weeks ago! and i haven’t even started christmas shopping! now, granted, $10 of that is a new sign up bonus, but you’ll get that bonus too if you sign up through this link (affiliate link, which means we both get a bonus – win-win!).
anyway, i know this isn’t a money saving/budgeting type blog, but i’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy it has been to earn cash back on things i was going to buy online* anyway (and they have big-name, good stores, not sketchy online “retailers”). and since i use chrome, i installed their little browser widget thingy that enters all known coupon codes on my behalf to find the best one to use, based on my order. with the holiday shopping season upon us, i just wanted to pass this along in case you too had heard of ebates (affiliate link), but weren’t really sure it was worth it.
*there’s an app for in-person purchases, but i haven’t gotten that fancy yet. i just need to install it before my next target run…
- 9 oz. (255 g.) mint dark chocolate bar, chopped, see notes
- 3 oz. (85 g.) mint dark chocolate bar, finely grated, see notes
- 2.5 oz. (72 g.) oreo thin crisps from a box with 100 calorie packs (yes, i’m serious; see narrative above), gently crushed just enough to break the crisps into smaller pieces without turning them into dust/crumbs
- 4 ½ tablespoons (1 3/8 oz. / 39 g.) crushed candy canes or starlight peppermints (about 8 mints), finely crushed but not powdered (see photos above) (use 2 thicker, freezer style zip top bags – the candy pieces are sharp and easily go through a regular zip top bag)
- line a small, rimmed baking sheet (mine is 11 ½ x 11 ½” (29 x 29 cm) pan with aluminum foil, making sure that the foil goes up the sides a bit so that you can use it as a sling later to remove the bark.
- put the 9 oz. of chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl that is large enough to eventually hold the cookie pieces. microwave the chocolate on 50% power in 20 second increments, stopping to stir the chocolate well and make sure it’s not getting much warmer than body temperature at each interval. not letting the chocolate get too hot is part of the trick to this tempering technique. once all of the chocolate in the bowl is smooth and melted, stir in the 3 oz. of finely grated chocolate. stir well to melt all of the chocolate (if the added chocolate really won’t melt, you can microwave it at 50% power in 5 second increments, stirring well each time, just until it melts).
- gently fold in 2/3 of the cookie pieces. using a rubber spatula, spread the chocolate cookie mixture into an even layer, about ¼” (0.6 cm) thick, in the foil lined pan. immediately sprinkle the remaining cookie pieces and peppermint candies into the chocolate and press gently to adhere.
- cover the tray with plastic wrap (don’t let it touch the bark) and place the whole tray in the refrigerator to firm up, about 45 minutes to an hour. remove the foil from the tray, peel the bark and foil apart, and break or cut the bark into uneven pieces. store in an airtight container at room temperature.
i used divine’s 70% cacao mint chocolate bars, which contain “crisps”. the crisps seemed to be like tiny pieces of candy canes (aka made of sugar, not puffed rice) and worked just fine.
finely grating a portion of the chocolate is necessary so that the chocolate will disperse and melt easily without the need for additional heat, which would disrupt the crystal structure of the chocolate (which determines how the chocolate sets up when it cools).
adapted from a recipe for “candy and cookie bark” that i clipped out of a magazine at least 10 years ago, with a chocolate tempering technique from millionaire’s shortbread (behind a paywall) in the november and december 2016 issue of cook’s illustrated.
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