Friday Food : Peppermint Bark and Gumdrops

Happy almost Christmas to everyone celebrating this weekend and a happy in progress Hanukkah for those who have already started.

Who is still looking for that quick, easy and yummy treat for their next party? Or maybe you’re just always on the look out.

May I suggest making a seasonal favorite of peppermint bark? Or a treat with a multi-season availability? Homemade gumdrops.

Peppermint Bark

 

To make this treat there are two versions. Both I enjoyed. First the more traditional version.

You will need:

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz). Or 8 oz of other baking chocolate
2 bars Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bar (4 oz each) Or 8 oz of other white chocolate. Check ingredients, make sure it’s made with cocoa
4-5 candy canes, peppermint flavor

Directions:

Place the candy canes in a bag (Ziploc freezer works well) and using a rolling pin or other hard object, crush the candy canes. Make sure you do not crush them too much or you will end up with powder. Set aside.

On the stove top or in the microwave, melt the semi-sweet or other brown chocolate.

Pour mixture into your dish of choice. Allow to cool and place in refrigerator. Allow chocolate base to begin to harden. If it is not cool enough, the white and brown will mix together in a later step.

Again, using the stove or microwave, melt the white chocolate. I would suggest using the microwave if you’re uncertain about proper melting temperatures. The lighter color is not as forgiving to burns.

Pour mixture into a mixing bowl. Mix about 1/2 of your candy cane pieces into the melted white chocolate.

Remove the base from the fridge and pour the white chocolate mix on top. Be cautious not to swirl the colors. Once everything is evenly spread, sprinkle the remaining candy canes over the top. Press them gently into the mix to prevent flaking after setting.

Cover and allow to chill over night.

To complete, removed from fridge, gently dump out of the contained and using hands break the bark into various sizes. Place on a dish or in a container and watch people enjoy!

Comments:

I totally burned some of my white chocolate…and it tasted exactly like a toasted marshmallow! I would also use fewer semi-sweet chocolate chips in my future versions.  Many people like the 50/50 split. I think I’d rather have a 35/65 or 25/75 instead.

For a quick, easy and essentially less expensive version try this…skip the semi-sweet all together and instead of the white chocolate use Nestle premier white chips. About 1 cup will make a sizable batch for 1 person for a few days. IMO. For the candy canes you would only need 2 or 3. To keep things from tasting too bland (if you think the chips are too bland) add a drop or two of peppermint extract to the mix when stirring in the candy cane pieces.

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 Gumdrops

I must give credit where credit it due, I found this on Pinterest and it lead me to Bakerella. Please visit her site for a more pictorial write up. When I started to make these I didn’t realize 1) how quickly some of the steps would go and 2) they would actually come out!

Many reviews mentioned how their attempts failed, and I didn’t feel like taking photos if it wasn’t going to work. Boy do I regret that choice! They came out fabulously and were so fun to make.

You will need:

4 Tbsp gelatin (6 envelopes)
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups boiling water
4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp flavored extract like lemon or peppermint
food coloring
extra sugar for coating

Directions:

In a large pot, soften gelatin in cold water for five minutes.

Stir in boiling water until gelatin dissolves.

Stir in sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 25 minutes. Stir constantly.

Add 1/4 tsp extract and 1-2 drops food color to each pan. 4 – 3×5 or any other size combinations.

Pour mixture into pans and stir until thoroughly combined.

Cover pan and chill overnight in the fridge.

The next day, remove gelatin from pans. It may help to wet a knife in hot water.

Cut gelatin mixture into cubes using a knife dipped in hot water. Suggested size 3/4 inch.

Separate cubes and roll in sugar until coated on all sides.

Place gumdrops on wax paper and leave at room temperature for two days to crystallize.

Comments and Photos:

When I did this I only used 4 envelopes since they sell in packs of 4. I also crossed my wires and used a lil more cold water in step one and a lil less boiling water later. When my mixture was boiling I cut the heat back a tad (I use gas) and continued to stir constantly. I moved my TV so I could watch while stirring…uber boring and tedious!

For some colors I might use more than 2 drops in the future, my red came out a bit pink. It was fun to mix colors though.

I wasn’t worried about perfect cubes, but if you are it can be very frustrating to cut the cubes.

HOLY STICKY. Make sure you scrub things down as soon as possible or you will end up with a hard ugly mess.

They don’t taste quite like store bought drops. Maybe I used too much sugar on the outside? But mine were not as chewy as expected. I had one girl tell me (at work) it was more a jell-o than chewy texture you’d expect from the spiced drops. I was also told my version was better.

For my batch I used orange, lemon and peppermint extract. I think these are great for any season. At Easter or in the summer use different extracts such as Strawberry or Raspberry instead of the peppermint. Switch up the colors too. They sell neon coloring where I live, think of the possibilities?! Not a very expensive project either.

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