COOKING IN THE CAVE: Peppermint bark—so exquisite yet so easy, and cheap, to make

Every December, a crystal cake stand full of peppermint bark sits as the centerpiece of our kitchen island.

I refill it almost every week.

My family (including the holiday guests we have over) goes through several batches of peppermint bark per season.

If I were to buy all of this peppermint bark from Williams Sonoma, I would spend almost $100 (at $47.95 for two one-pound tins).

So it’s a good thing I don’t buy it there. I don’t buy it anywhere, in fact. I save money making the bark myself.

Making peppermint bark from scratch seems so logical to me, yet every year people express awe when I tell them that I make it.

“How do you do it?” they ask in wonder.

I don’t quite understand this question.

Peppermint bark has three ingredients: dark or milk chocolate, white chocolate, and crushed candy cane. And they’re all layered.

So doesn’t it make sense to melt the milk or dark chocolate, let it harden, add molten white chocolate and sprinkle crushed peppermint on top?

I mean, peppermint bark is my simplest creation, but my friends seem to think the bark must be made using special equipment in a Williams Sonoma factory.

Quite the contrary.

All one needs is a method for melting chocolate, a method for crushing candy canes, a spatula and some waxed-paper lined pans.

I use a double boiler. If chocolate is heated too quickly, it will scorch. And once scorched, chocolate is unsalvageable.

But the microwave method works just as well. The power setting must be at 50 percent. Otherwise the chocolate will scorch.

White chocolate burns the easiest—especially if it isn’t high quality. So Nestle chips may not cut it.

I use E. Guittard wafers. It’s the same chocolate that local chocolatier Ginger Elizabeth uses.

Not only will the chocolate melt better, but the overall quality of the peppermint bark will be much higher.

While I prefer to use dark chocolate (specifically 72 percent cacao) many prefer milk chocolate (around 50-60 percent cacao) because it doesn’t overpower the white chocolate.

As for the peppermint, I pulse a food processor on low speed to chop up candy canes. Some prefer to use a mallet of some sort. But candy cane shards easily puncture a freezer bag and cause tiny bits of plastic to mix in with the shards.

My favorite part of making peppermint bark is the peppermint dust produced when crushing the candy canes.

I always mix some into the molten white chocolate to make sure the peppermint flavor is fully incorporated. I use leftover dust for sprinkling over whipped cream in a mug of hot chocolate.

So spare yourself the robbery of store-bought peppermint bark and make a batch yourself.


Homemade Peppermint Bark


1 lb. dark or milk chocolate (I will refer to this as brown chocolate in the recipe)

1 lb. white chocolate

1 cup crushed mini candy canes*


Line three large baking pans with wax paper. You may not use all three, but I always keep an extra out to be safe.


Melt the brown chocolate in a double boiler on low heat, stirring often. OR place the brown chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30-second intervals at half power. Stir after each interval until fully melted.


Pour the molten brown chocolate into the pans, on top of the wax paper. Spread flat with a spatula. Each pan should have a chocolate layer about 3-4 millimeters thick. You can test thickness by inserting a toothpick into the molten chocolate. Let cool in the refrigerator.


Melt the white chocolate and add in a tablespoon or two of peppermint dust.


Pull out hardened brown chocolate pans from the refrigerator.


This next part is a bit tricky. The key is to use the spatula as little as possible. Otherwise, the brown chocolate will mix with the white chocolate, making brown streaks. It’s a purely aesthetic issue, though, so it’s not a big deal if streaking occurs.


Pour the white chocolate over the brown chocolate to cover it in a layer of the same thickness. Use the spatula lightly if necessary to cover all of the brown chocolate.


Rap the pans several times to get the chocolate to settle evenly to avoid using the spatula.


While the white chocolate is still molten, sprinkle the crushed candy cane over the top. Tap candy pieces in to make sure they do not fall out when the chocolate hardens.


Refrigerate until solid but pliable.


Using a knife, cut the bark into squares and serve. (Alternatively, refrigerate until solid and brittle, and break the bark into shards.)

*Mini candy canes are much easier to unwrap than regular candy canes (which are individually shrinkwrapped).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email