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Homemade Peppermint Bark makes a special gift or a lovely addition to any dessert table. This famous recipe for two-toned chocolate bark studded with crushed peppermint candy is easy to make and will become a holiday tradition in no time.
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Is there anything more delicious– or wonderfully showy– than a shard of homemade peppermint bark at Christmastime? It’s also a surefire way to let anyone on your ‘nice’ list know how much you appreciate them.
Fair warning, though: once you give it away, people in your life will certainly expect it year after year. In fact, you may have to update that ‘nice’ list every once in a while…or start your own peppermint bark chocolate tradition.
Making homemade Peppermint Bark for a school’s worth of teachers and coaches? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How to make homemade Peppermint Bark:
The photos take you through the basic steps, therefore look at the recipe card below for detailed quantities.
- First, prepare a baking pan by lining it with foil, parchment paper, or waxed paper, so the chocolate doesn’t stick.
- Meanwhile, crush the candy canes or peppermint candy by placing them in a plastic bag and whacking them with a rolling pin or mallet to your desired consistency. How fine you want the candy is up to you, but your teeth might appreciate candy on the finer side.
- Then you melt the chocolate. Dark chocolate first! (See below for the best way to melt chocolate.)
- Next, using an off-set spatula or table knife, carefully spread the melted dark chocolate evenly over the bottom of the pan and set aside. Let it cool naturally— don’t refrigerate it.
- Melt the white chocolate next. While the white chocolate is melting, heat a small amount of vegetable shortening in the microwave until melted. Then stir the peppermint extract into the melted shortening. This is important: once the white chocolate is completely, absolutely melted, stir the peppermint shortening into the white chocolate.
- Next, fold in about half the crushed candy canes into the white chocolate, and spread carefully over the dark chocolate layer. It’s okay if the dark chocolate hasn’t completely set up yet.
- As soon as you’re finished with the white chocolate, sprinkle the remaining crushed candy canes over the white chocolate layer.
- Now for the hardest part: waiting for the bark to harden completely before breaking into pieces. This could take a few hours.
How to melt chocolate:
Tempering, the process of properly melting and cooling chocolate so it stays shiny and snappy when broken is a real science. It can take a long time to master. If you’re a professional candy maker or pastry chef, tempering chocolate is crucial to your work.
For home bakers and candy makers, it still helps to know some basics of working with chocolate so you don’t waste expensive ingredients and you’re happy with the results.
When it comes to the best way to melt chocolate, you have two options: the stovetop or the microwave. Using the stove to melt chocolate is wonderful for larger amounts, but the microwave is just as effective.
Most importantly, no matter which technique you use, make sure the bowl and utensils—everything that will come in direct contact with the chocolate—is very, very dry. Even a drop of water will seize up the melted chocolate and ruin your project.
- Melting chocolate in the microwave: Place chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until smooth and melted.
- Melting chocolate on the stove: Place chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over— but not in— a saucepan of simmering water; cook, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. When melting on a stove you should never boil the water beneath your bowl, just let it come to a mild simmer.
Above all, don’t rush the melting process, and let the chocolate cool on its own; in other words, resist the temptation to pop the tray in the refrigerator.
Before spreading out in the pan, let the chocolate cool a little bit in the bowl.
Tips for making the best Peppermint Bark:
These tried and true tips make Peppermint Bark easy and fun.
- Make sure everything is dry. It bears repeating: water and chocolate don’t mix! Make sure your work surface, tools, and bowls are very dry, otherwise the chocolate will seize up and get clumpy.
- Use quality ingredients. Most importantly, for this peppermint bark recipe, try to use a higher quality chocolate with real cocoa butter in it. Some cooks even prefer to make peppermint bark with bar chocolate instead of the less expensive chocolate chips. Others swear by the melting wafers Ghirardelli makes.
- Prevent separating layers. More than anything, the biggest problem cooks have with peppermint bark recipes is that the layers separate when they break the bark apart. This happens when two incompatible types of chocolate come into contact with one another and cannot properly adhere. Be sure to use chocolate containing real cocoa butter (within the first two ingredients) and not palm kernel oil or coconut oil.
- Peppermint extract. You can certainly use an alcohol-based peppermint extract in this recipe, as long as you don’t skip the shortening step. Adding the extra bit of fat to the chocolate along with the peppermint flavoring will keep the chocolate from seizing.
- If you don’t want to use the vegetable shortening to melt chocolate, look for an oil-based peppermint extract or peppermint essential oil. You may have to adjust the quantity, however, as peppermint essential oil is quite strong. Use a few drops, taste, and add more if necessary.
- Take your time. Don’t hurry the melting (and cooling) chocolate steps; slowly melted chocolate will yield better results and let the chocolate set up the way you want it.
- Don’t wait too long. Don’t let the dark chocolate layer firm up too much before adding the white chocolate layer—it should still be slightly tacky to the touch. If it’s too firm, the layers could fail to stick together and separate after you break the pieces apart.
- Prevent streaks. To avoid streaking, let the dark chocolate set up a bit, and do not try to spread the top layer too thin. If touch the bottom layer with your spatula, you might cause a streak.
How to make Peppermint Bark with dark chocolate:
It’s even easier to make peppermint bark with only one layer of chocolate. Just melt a double amount of dark chocolate and proceed with the recipe as directed.
And yes, you can make white chocolate peppermint bark, too. You can even go the extra mile and add a drop or two of red food coloring for a delicate shade of pink.
How to store Peppermint Bark:
Store airtight at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. If you can resist the temptation.
- 8 oz dark chocolate
- 8 oz white chocolate
- 1 teaspoon shortening
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup candycane pieces crushed, divided
- Line an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper.
- Set dark chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water (double-boiler method) or melt in microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments until completely melted (stir well between increments).
- Spread melted dark chocolate evenly in bottom of prepared pan. Set aside (do not refrigerate).
- Set white chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water (double-boiler method) or melt in microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments until completely melted (stir well between increments).
- Melt shortening in microwave (about 15 to 20 seconds). Add peppermint extract and stir to combine.
- Add peppermint mixture to white chocolate and stir to combine. Fold in half the crushed canes (about ¼ cup) until evenly distributed.
- Spread melted white chocolate carefully and evenly over dark chocolate layer (the dark chocolate layer may not have completely set yet). Immediately sprinkle with remaining candy cane pieces.
- Allow peppermint bark to harden completely at room temperature before cutting/breaking into pieces (this will take several hours).
Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.