Peppermint bark didn’t really cross my radar until about four years ago. I ordered some to send to my father for Christmas but made a fatal mistake. I tasted it first. He did get his peppermint bark, but it was on Christmas the following year.
Now, it seems that peppermint bark is everywhere. While my SavorSA colleagues Nick and Kristina Mistry are trying their hand at making the candy this year, I picked up a tub of it at Costco for $10. I also noticed World Market selling tins of peppermint bark for the same price.
I planned to make multiple uses of it. First, to have some myself. Then, to put it along with the cookies and gingerbread in gift baskets, and finally to experiment and see if I could make some other treats with it.
My experiments turned out to be edible, but somewhat less than satisfactory.
The first thing I made was peppermint bark hot chocolate. I heated up a few big chunks of the bark along with a heaping tablespoon of Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa and another tablespoon of sugar in a double boiler, along with a little milk. When the chocolate had melted, I poured in more hot milk and brought it to a simmer. It was good, but I think that hot chocolate with really good chocolate, all by itself, tastes better.
Peppermint bark ice cream sounded good. It was just a matter of chopping up the peppermint bark into small chunks, then stirring it into slightly softened vanilla bean ice cream and refreezing it. I sampled it the next day with high hopes. The frozen bark was mighty hard on the teeth and my thought was that, really, I’d rather have had the plain vanilla ice cream with some peppermint bark on the side.
Of the three experiments, the Peppermint Bark Chip Cookies turned out somewhat better. White chocolate, dark chocolate and peppermint in a cloak of Toll House cookie dough would seem a good thing. In practice, though, the cookies melted out too thin and flat for my taste. I like them a little thick in the center and moist, only flattening out toward the edges with some crispness.
My guess would be the oils in the chocolate might have been the culprit. And it’s possible we need to give that little chocolate chip more respect — it was designed carefully to melt in a cookie just right. And peppermint bark is best just as it is.
(photos, top & middle: Nicholas Mistry, cookies: Bonnie Walker)