Gluten Free Dad here.
I’m sure you’ve all figured out by now that everyone in our home is effectively banished from Mom’s kitchen during the holidays. There are some good reasons for this. For starters, the rest of us are boys, which means we make big messes, don’t measure ingredients very well, and always want to run the KitchenAid on the highest setting (it will throw a thick batter six feet, trust me).
The other reason we aren’t allowed in the kitchen (and certainly not near the KitchenAid) is that Mom makes A LOT of food this time of year. I think in her past life she was the mess cook for an army battalion, maybe even a brigade, because she typically makes enough Christmas treats for somewhere between sixteen and seventeen thousand (or one classroom of six year olds!).
Of course everyone loves the Buckeyes (sugary peanut butter wrapped in chocolate?…mmm…), but my favorite this year has been her Peppermint Bark. What a great combination of flavors and almost so easy to make that even a husband can do it! Almost.
Here’s how much of a no-brainer it is. You get some Baker’s Chocolate Squares (since 1780…it must be good) at the store (men, it’s in the aisle of death with the wheat flour that you can’t buy anymore). Get the semi-sweet and the white. I found it at Super Wal-Mart for $2, at the regular grocery store for $3, so if you’re anti-Wal-Mart, it’ll cost you a couple of bucks but you won’t have to stand in line for 30 minutes listening to the “this would be funny if it wasn’t true” cell phone conversation of the person in front of you.
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Squares (Heidi actually used Chocoley’s Bada Bing Bada Boom Dark Chocolate Candy Melts but you have to order those. Chocoley’s chocolates are made in a dedicated facility, are Celiac Safe and “husband-proof.”)
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. Baker’s White Chocolate Squares
1/8 tsp. Peppermint Oil
- When you get home, start the double boiler on the stove. All this really is, is a stockpot/large sauce pan filled with an inch or two of water and brought to a simmer. In a smaller pot/saucepan/ metal bowl, add the chocolate and place over the big pot of simmering water. The heat will melt the chocolate (DO NOT get water in the chocolate).
- Melt the semi-sweet (men, that’s the BROWN chocolate) first. Get out a cookie sheet while that’s melting down and line it with parchment paper (if you don’t have any, that’s okay. It will allow for more fun when breaking the chocolate into bark). When the chocolate is melted, grab two pot-holders (yes men, the handles are hot…and no, you won’t be tough enough to use your bare hands) and pour the melted chocolate onto the cookie sheet. It should ooze all the way to the edges…wiggle (or forcefully bang) the cookie sheet to make sure it’s evenly spread.
- Now this is the hard part…put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until it hardens. Be sure to grab a Red Bridge (or two) while the fridge is open. Also, if you do this part during the pre-game, you’ll be ready for step two at half-time…just some FYI. Guys, this is really important…the brown chocolate must be hard before you add the white chocolate. It’s like painting…you better be sure the primer is dry dry dry before you add the top coat.
- While that’s going on in the fridge, grab some candy canes. During the commercials of the game, put the candy canes in a big Ziploc bag (be sure to unwrap them first). Run out to the garage, grab your hammer and smack the bag a few times (turn the hammer-head sideways) to break the candy canes into small chunks, but do not overdo it. You want pieces of candy cane and not candy cane powder.
- After the brown chocolate has set (or half-time, whichever comes first), repeat step one, only use the white chocolate this time. Once the white chocolate has melted, add 1/8 tsp. peppermint oil (not to be confused with peppermint extract!) to the white chocolate and stir. Pour the melted white chocolate DIRECTLY ON TOP OF the hardened brown chocolate. Use the same wiggling/banging technique to even out. Grab your semi-pulverized bag of candy canes and shake all over the white chocolate. Be careful…don’t be a Peppermint Globber (no one likes a Peppermint Globber).
- As soon as you get a good coating of broken candy canes, GET IT RIGHT BACK IN THE FRIDGE!
- Now this is important. You have to leave the cookie sheet in the fridge until half-time of the Sunday NIGHT game (about six hours) to be sure everything has really firmed up. Pop it out of the cookie sheet (if you can) and don’t worry about breaking it…that’s the whole point. If you get a big piece of it, grab with both hands and smash on counter (think of Paul Stanley smashing a guitar). You ideally want pieces somewhere between the size of a book of matches and a playing card, so don’t use your hammer for this part, even though you may be tempted.
- If you do it right, you’ll have a great big mess of stuff in front of you. Grab a Tupperware-like container (you’ll get the wrong size at first and get in trouble for dirty-ing an extra container) and stack-to-store like moving boxes. Lids are optional as long as your now WAY TOO BIG container (won’t make that mistake again) is in the fridge (grab another two Red Bridges while open and look forward to Monday night game…wonder what went wrong with my fantasy team this year??).