Peppermint Bark Fudge
I think I’ve made peppermint bark for the last two holiday seasons. The real kind — the layer of bittersweet chocolate overlaid with minted white chocolate and topped with crushed candy canes. I’ve mentioned before that I really like making candy, but I’m not always thrilled with the end result — and chocolate is more anxiety-making than you might think. In order to make a really good chocolate, you have to bring it to very precise temperatures to temper it; otherwise it doesn’t look or taste quite right. And you worry if people are going to like it. And you worry that they’re just eating it to be polite and to make you happy, but they’re choking it down because it’s totally mediocre. And you worry that they’re going to end up resenting you for putting them through that, and they won’t want to bother being your friend anymore if this is what one has to slog through in order to be near you and it’s just not worth it anymore. I HAVE SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES IS WHAT I’M SAYING.
Anyway, I was looking for an easier take on the classic peppermint bark, since I’m not sure I can stand up to the Williams-Sonoma gift boxes. Then I decided that peppermint bark fudge would be the most excellent, foolproof twist.
I cribbed from a bunch of recipes I sorted through online, but this is what I came up with (NOT for the dairy/milkfat-squeamish):
I lined a 2-qt baking dish with wax paper, then sprayed it with cooking spray. I melted a cup of chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet) down with an ENTIRE stick of butter, a little less than 1/4 cup milk, and a splash of cream in a double boiler. When it had all melted down together, I poured it into a bowl, added 3 cups of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla extract. Then I used an electric hand mixer to beat it for a minute until it was shiny (seriously, do this. Sometimes I decide that electricity is for the weak and I stir it myself by hand, but I couldn’t get over how glossy it wound up looking with the aid of my… well, my KitchenAid). Then I poured it in to the dish.
I cleaned out the double boiler, and melted down the exact same stuff as the first step in the first layer, except with white chocolate chips instead of semisweet. Then when I took it out to add the sugar, I used a splash of peppermint extract instead of vanilla (which, of course, I had left over from the last time I made peppermint bark — my embarrassing, embarrassing peppermint bark). Mix again, and pour over the chocolate layer evenly.
The fun part was taking a hammer to a bunch of peppermint candy. This fudge, I think, would be a great thing to make with the leftovers of holiday baking and office parties, where everyone brings in candy canes and no one eats them all. However, I found that the individually wrapped peppermint candies — the kind you take from the hostess desk on the way out of a restaurant — were cheaper, and if you smacked them dead-on with the business end of a hammer they shattered into a million pieces in one fell motion and it was immensely satisfying. I crushed enough candy to make a little over a cup, and then sprinkled them evenly over the top, pressing down gently with a bit of extra wax paper to make sure the pieces were embedded in the fudge (but not sticking to my hand).
I refrigerated overnight, then cut into pieces, plunked them into cupcake wrappers, boxed, and distributed as gifts. Look how cute!
They can get a little dry and hard in the fridge, but at room temperature they’re creamy and amazing. Unf. This is happening again next year.