Friday, December 20, 2013

Peppermint Bark

Am I the only one who thinks working the days between Christmas and New Year is a waste?  Most importantly the day after my house that’s a useless, hungover, lay around with friends, wing-eating sort of day. Looks like I’m going to have to take a vacation day that I don’t have left. The price you pay for precious family bonding.  And the way my family bonds is by playing the traditional game of “who’s the drunkest at Christmas”. It all starts out about as tame as your classic family holiday, until our close friends and “uncles”, aka my dad’s high school friends, { who can still drink us under the table} come over for what is intended to be a nice dessert. And then the Jager gets broken out, and inappropriate games of Cards Against Humanity ensue, and all bets are off for anyone planning to survive without a hangover.
So I guess I’ll stop making you all jealous with my holiday plans, and get back to the reason I think we’re all here: baking. Unless of course you like my rants, in which case you shouldn't worry cause there’s plenty more where that came from. So similar to the Pumpkin craze in October, December will continue to revolve around peppermint, whether you like it or not!  And when I saw this pre-crushed candy cane I knew I needed a bag..or 2 or 3. It just makes life that much easier! On top of chocolate covered pretzels, Oreos, throw them in cookies, you can't go wrong!
But mainly my intentions were peppermint bark, because it's something I feel strongly about. It’s so delicious and refreshing, but tends to be so expensive.  There’s really only one solution to this problem- make your own! It’s such a simple and fun treat to make, especially as gifts! The trick to this is using good quality chocolate {such as Ghirardelli or Godiva}, and you’ll be surprised how good your homemade bark comes out!  My job is to show you how to mass produce peppermint bark from the convenience of your home..and for less!

Peppermint Bark
6oz Dark chocolate
6oz white chocolate
Crushed Candy Cane {or a pre-crushed bag shown above}
Line a square baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil.  Melt the dark chocolate {in a double boiler or cheat in the microwave like I do}. Spread the chocolate evenly in the bottom of the pan then place in the fridge.
*I didn't have a square hence the 3/4 filled rectangle pan. use whatever works!
In the meantime, melt the white chocolate.  Spread the white chocolate evenly over the dark chocolate. While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle the crushed candy cane over the top.  Place back in the fridge until fully hard.
Break or cut into pieces and EAT!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peppermint Chip Double Dark Chocolate Cookies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And somehow it seems to be over before it feels like it started.  Usually my house is a nonstop bakeshop for all of December, but seeing as I’m moving in the midst of the madness, it has been pretty tough! But I commit to fully dedicating every day this next week to making something festive and hopefully get you some good recipes!

So I picked up these Andes peppermint chips, along with about 10 other cool things I never saw before, and now I needed to find something to do with them! I’m one of those “I need these..but I’m not sure for what” kind of shoppers if you didn't realize that already.
I've never had a chocolate cookie recipe that I felt was chocolaty enough {talk about an addict}. So I've been on the hunt for the perfect recipe, and after playing around a bunch, I finally came up with this one for you...and it’s PERFECT!  Until I come up with something better of course, in which case I’ll call that one perfect and the cycle continues.

But this cookie is truly perfect for this time of year. It’s like a winter party in your mouth.  I mean dark chocolate and peppermint chips, could there be a more festive combo?! Don’t bother answering that question, I've answered for you..there’s not!
So for all your work holiday parties and ugly sweater festivities MAKE THESE. They’re so quick and easy they’re sure to be a hit! Would I steer you wrong?! :)

Peppermint Chip Double Dark Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder {regular or Special Dark, whichever you prefer}
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup {1 stick) of butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peppermint chips {I used Andes}

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter and sugars until smooth.  Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add in flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and peppermint chips.
Use a tablespoon to place the cookie on the tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes until firm, then remove.  Place on a cooling rack or enjoy warm!

Happy Holidays! :)