Double Chocolate Peppermint Bark
Chocolate bark should "snap" when you break or bite into it. This consistency is achieved by tempering" the chocolate - a heating and cooling process that ensures melted chocolate will be shiny and have "snap" to it once it hardens again. This much-loved candy may also be made using chocolate -flavored confectionery coating, candy melts or a product labeled as "chocolate bark", all of which are made from sugar, milk powder, hardened vegetable oil and flavorings. These products will produce the shine and the "snap" without tempering, but - because they typically do not contain any cocoa butter - you will not achieve the same superior level of flavor that comes from using high-quality chocolate.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, smooth side-up; set aside until needed.
Finely chop two-thirds (8-ounces) of dark chocolate. Leave remaining one-third dark chocolate (4-ounces) in large chunks; keep this separate from the finely chopped chocolate. Repeat this process with the white chocolate, finely chopping two-thirds and leaving the remaining one-third in large chunks; set aside.
Fill the bottom of a double boiler half full with water. Place over medium high-heat, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a bare simmer - the water should just shimmer, not actually bubble.
Place the finely chopped dark chocolate in the top of the double boiler. Place over gently simmering water, and melt chocolate, stirring occasionally until it reaches a temperature of approximately 110 to 120 degrees F. (Note: Use a digital candy thermometer to monitor the
temperature; do not go over 120 degrees F, or the chocolate will separate.) Remove the top of the double boiler, and place it on a towel on the counter. Stir in remaining one-third dark chocolate, stirring constantly to melt and cool the mixture to approximately 80 to 82 degrees F.
Once chocolate has cooled to this temperature, place the bowl back over the double boiler and heat to between 88 to 91 degrees F.* The tempered chocolate should be smooth and glossy.
Remove from heat, then quickly stir in the peppermint extract. Pour chocolate onto the silicone mat-lined baking sheet. Use an offset spatula to spread it evenly into an 8 x 10-inch rectangle, then let it harden completely. (Note: The chocolate will harden at room temperature, but, to expedite the process, you may put it in the refrigerator.)
When the dark chocolate has set, reheat the water in bottom of the double boiler. Place the finely chopped white chocolate in the (cleaned) top of the double. Place over the gently simmering water and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a temperature of approximately 105 to 110 degrees F. (Note: Use a digital candy thermometer to monitor the temperature, and do not go over 110 degrees F.) Remove the top of the double boiler, and place it on a towel on the counter. Stir in remaining one-third of white chocolate, stirring constantly to melt and cool the mixture to approximately 80 to 82°F. Once chocolate has cooled to this temperature, it must be reheated. Place bowl back over the double boiler and heat to 86 to 87 degrees F.* The tempered chocolate should be smooth and glossy.
Immediately pour the white chocolate onto the hardened dark chocolate, using an offset spatula to spread it in an even layer and cover the dark chocolate completely. Sprinkle crushed peppermint candies evenly over the surface of the white chocolate. Let chocolate set completely, then break bark into pieces. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
Tips and Techniques
If you prefer bark with a slightly softer texture, you may omit the tempering process and simply melt the two chocolates; however, do not melt the white chocolate until the dark chocolate layer has set.
For Almond Bark, substitute almond extract for the peppermint extract and replace the peppermint candies with 1/3 cup toasted, sliced almonds.
Makes 1-3/4 pounds or 12 servings
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