Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peppermint Bark

Being a parent around the holidays is so much fun. Carrying on traditions Ryan and I had as kids as well as beginning our own with the boys. My mother and brothers and I spent hours making tons of different Christmas cookies that the boys and I have resurrected from the annals of Mom's old Betty Crocker: Berliner Kranz (German Christmas Wreaths), Russian Tea Cakes (that I try to make every year for my brother-in-law Colin, if no one else), Thumbprint Cookies filled with jam, and Gingerbread People. But the boys and I have added an entirely different treat that we look forward to making every year- Peppermint Bark. It's fun and easy and involves the art of whacking, which every good kid will enjoy.
You begin with a package of your standard candy canes- we stick to good ol' Spangler. The kids unwrap them, break them into pieces and put them on a clean towel or flour sack.
Roll the towel up, tucking in the ends so no renegade pieces escape, and watch as your 3 year old dramatically holds up the rolling pin as if it's Excalibur and he's King Arthur, and without further ado, gives the sack a good thump.
"I whacked it HARD, Mama!" Felix shouts with evident satisfaction.

Meanwhile, I'm melting chocolate in a double boiler. The boys saw an ad for fancy-shmancy Peppermint Bark in the Williams-Sonoma catalog (yeah, for only $38 per 9 oz. box. Sheesh.) that had an underlayer of dark chocolate so upon their insistance, we went for the contrasting layer.
At this point, there's no telling how much chocolate has been consumed by these 3. Note the suspicious looking brown mustaches on my not-even-close-to-puberty children.

With the white chocolate melted, peppermint oil added, and the pieces of candy cane stirred in, you spread it across the layer of dark chocolate. I knew I should have waited until the white chocolate mixture had cooled a bit, but nap time was coming on hard and fast...Anyway, 1/2 hour in the fridge and we have a wonderful treat to bag up and gift our friends and neighbors with. It's also the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of sledding, when the sharp sting of the mint meets with the cold air you're inhaling and you have the literal peppermint-fresh feeling all those toothpaste commercials try to sell you.

Isn't Winter wonderful?


  1. I wanna go sledding.
    and Felix isn't quite 3 (unless I missed something!)...let's not speed this up now PLEASE!
    and I should really come to your house and be taught how to make Russian Tea Cakes...my husband would be so grateful.
    What a lovely afternoon.

  2. Ok, seriously, you are catapulting yourself into One of My Favorite Writers territory. I love the idea of the craft of whacking. And Felix . . . that is too much, and I can picture him saying it, too (and then the boat goes into the water). And by the way, I have been unhappy with my toothpaste lately, so you know what that means: I'll be expecting a bundle of peppermint bark on my doorstep.

  3. I am going to have to make that, asap. Mmmm. I am sure that will help with all this pregnancy weight I should be losing...

  4. mmmmmmmmm peppermint bark is on my top 5 favorite holiday things list.