Today is Winter Solstice. What are your plans? Do you and your family do anything to honor and stop and reflect on this the shortest day of the year?
My love and I are off for a night of wishes, dreaming, walking, and enjoying the fresh beginning of all things new.
With my family in town, things are busy and happy…. and BUSY! And I, as seemingly customary for this time of year, feel behind. We’ve finished all the shopping and wrapping, but I am behind on the baking and cooking. So, for the last several days, I’ve been getting things underway for our neighbor cookie/candy plates that we gift.
I have a few recipes to share for the Holidays. This year, we are making:
- Butter Caramels
- Peppermint Bark
- Peppermint Patties (Chocolate-dipped, of course!)
- Roll Out Christmas Cookies
- Soft Ginger Cookies
- Homemade marshmallows
- Our favorite hot chocolate blend
When I look at the list, it doesn’t seem like a lot. And then I look at what I have yet to make and I gasp. (What the heck am I doing here typing rather than in the kitchen baking? ACK! This might just have to be a short post all!)
My sisters go crazy for peppermint bark. Honestly, I can take it or leave it, but I love the look of it. Every year we’ve bought this treat from the store, but this year, I decided to try and make it myself. It’s actually quite simple – if you have time for the cooling process between the different chocolate layers.
Give this a try and let me know what you think. I’ll get my tush back in the kitchen (marshmallows are on the menu this morning) and then post more recipes (like the ones for the caramels that I just finished wrapping the individual pieces for last night and some tasty crispy polenta fries with alio oli – mmmmm!) .
I hope you are all safe, warm and reveling in the joy of the moment. I’m off to conquer sugar syrups.
Layered Peppermint Bark
2 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or chopped white almond bark
8 large candy canes, chopped/crushed
4 – 6 teaspoons shortening
4 teaspoons peppermint extractDirections:
- In a double boiler, or a metal bowl resting over hot water, melt dark chocolate chips with 2 teaspoons of the shortening and 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract. Do not let the temperature rise above 98/100F or you will break the temper of the chocolate.
- Once melted, pour the chocolate onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet (that fits in your fridge). Smooth out the chocolate with a spatula to about 9 x 13″. Slide the cookie sheet into your fridge and allow the dark chocolate layer to cool/set for at least 30 minutes.
- Once the dark chocolate is cooled, melt the white chocolate plus the remaining shortening (2 teaspoons) and extract (2 teaspoons). Once melted, pour over the top of the cooled dark chocolate. Working quickly – as it begins to melt the dark chocoate a bit – spread the white chocolate over the top of the dark chocolate base.
- Sprinkle the crushed peppermints over the warm white chocolate topping. You can press the peppermints in to the chocolate a bit to make sure they will stick. (Pressing the peppermints in to the chocolate may not be necessary.)
- Cool for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator or on the countertop for 1 hour or more.
- Score and cut into pieces. Store in an airtight container for 7 – 10 days (or until your family comes to help you eat them up!)