I’m all about the peppermint, guys. Mint and chocolate are a heavenly combination for me, so I really take advantage of all of the treats this time of year. In honor of my strong bond with peppermint, I made some peppermint bark, but I tried a new way of doing things. See, the easiest way, as you may know, is to spread out the chocolate on a piece of wax paper and break off pieces.
Instead of doing things the easy way this time (still a big advocate of the “easy way”), I tried to use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of the chocolate. It kind of works and kind of doesn’t so here are two different ways you can make shaped peppermint bark as well as two different sets of ingredients you can use. I’m totally bias here – I’ll tell you what I liked best and what worked for me, but figure out what works best for YOU. I still love the look of the shaped ones because they look really pretty as a gift. The first set of ingredients:
- Chocolate chips or cocoa candy melts
- White chocolate chips
- Peppermint candy
The second set of ingredients:
- Chocolate chips or cocoa candy melts
- Peppermint candy melts
As you can see, you can either use peppermint candy melts (the easiest way) or you can use white chocolate and sprinkle it with crushed peppermint (the slightly harder way). Personally, I still prefer using white chocolate and crushing the peppermint topping myself, but the candy melts still do taste great. You can crush the candy by placing unwrapped pieces into a zip-lock bag and using something heavy (I use the end of a rolling pin) to break them into smaller pieces. Then I use a rolling pin to further crush small pieces. Like I said, this just my opinion. They both taste like peppermint bark!
Now, moving on to the different ways to fill the stencil with chocolate. First, lay multiple cookie cutters on a parchment lined baking sheet. Melt the milk or dark chocolate first – melt on defrost mode in 20 second increments until smooth. You can either use a spoon to pour the chocolate into the mold, or you can move the chocolate to a piping bag to distribute it into the mold.
Pros: It’s easier and a little faster to use a spoon, but the piping bag makes it easier to reach corners of the mold.
Cons: Using a piping bag tends to take longer, but using a spoon means you have to use something else (like a knife or toothpick) to move the chocolate into small crevices.
Once the dark chocolate has hardened (which takes longer for chocolate chips than candy melts), you have two more options. You can either leave the the candy in the mold or you can gently remove it. It is difficult to remove the peppermint bark without breaking it, which is why it can help to remove it before you add the next layer.
Pros: The chocolate is much easier to remove when you only have one layer, but leaving it inside the mold keeps the next layer looking significantly cleaner.
Cons: The thicker the bark, the more difficult it is to remove from the mold, but if you remove it early, the peppermint layers won’t look very clean.
Personally, for the aesthetic aspect of it, I preferred to leave it in the mold because it looks much better. If you gift it with it still in the mold, you don’t have to worry about accidentally breaking it. Next, repeat the process with either the white chocolate or the peppermint candy. Before it dries, sprinkle the crushed peppermint on top of the white chocolate. Then let the chocolate harden. If it is still in the mold, you can use a spoon or piping bag to fill it in. If you’ve removed it from the mold, you would need to use a piping bag to shape the candy as best you can, which is quite difficult to do. I wasn’t pleased with the final look of this technique, but it did keep my bark from breaking.
In summary, I actually think the best choice is to leave the peppermint bark inside of the mold until you are ready to eat it or gift it. After all, it’s pretty heartbreaking when it breaks after you’ve worked so hard to make it look nice. However, if you grease the sides of the cookie cutter with some oil, it can be easier to slip the chocolate out of the mold. I also preferred the white chocolate with crushed peppermint over the candy melts because of the crunch and look – it’s easier to hide imperfections with candy topping.Now, get out there and make some beautiful and delicious peppermint bark! Enjoy!