I am great at eating chocolate. Too good, really. Working with it? Not so much. I approach chocolate molding with great trepidation, and it is hardly ever a joy.
However, I managed to pull this one off. Here's a classic Christmas favorite, in the shape of a donut. Peppermint bark! I think almost every one of the donut ideas we've presented here are gift-worthy, and these are no exception.
I used an amalgam of recipes I found while researching peppermint bark. Seems like no two people make it the same way! If you have a peppermint bark recipe you like, please by all means use yours instead of this one. Martha Stewart has a delicious looking recipe using puffed rice cereal (see HERE) which looks so good. I used white chocolate chips, which contained no cocoa butter and seized up on me while I was melting them. This is a no-no. Use real white chocolate and chop it up yourself. Don't be like me.
This recipe yields eight peppermint bark wheels. You will need a 9.7 oz. bar of good bittersweet dark chocolate, 9.7 oz. of good quality white chocolate, 3 tsp. vegetable oil (separated) plus more if you get in a jam with seized-up chocolate, 6-8 regular sized peppermint candy canes (or about 3/4 c. crushed peppermint candies) and 2 tsp. peppermint extract.
You will also need regular or lightweight aluminum foil, a plastic bag or parchment paper in which to crush the candy, and a kitchen mallet or hammer.
The first thing you should do is line your donut pans with foil, shiny side UP. Do one donut cavity at a time, and really try to smooth the foil the best you can for a nicer appearance on the bottom of the bark. I used a second pan to help press the foil in to the first pan, but what works best is elbow grease. Trim the excess around the edges so you don't have foil going everywhere.
Chocolate melting time is not a good time for multitasking, so do this first.
Once your pans are lined, get a double boiler situation going on a low simmer. Chop the 9.7 oz. dark chocolate bar into smaller pieces and begin to melt in double boiler with 1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil. You don't need much heat. From what I've read, it's actually better to turn off the heat once you get the chocolate on the stove, turning it back on only if the melting has slowed or stopped.
Ladle the dark chocolate into the foil-lined donut pan cavities. You want 1/4-3/8" of dark chocolate in each one, which worked out to around 1/4-1/3 c. each. Refrigerate pans for 30 minutes.
While the first layer is setting up, crush your candy canes. I don't know why, but I actually needed seven full-sized candy canes to top eight bark wheels. That's a lot of candy!
With a clean bowl, start your double boiler up again. Add 1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil and 2 tsp. peppermint extract to your 9.7 oz. of white chocolate and let melt. Like I said earlier, this was hard to do. My white "chocolate" didn't really melt and seized up. I ended up adding about 1 1/2 tbsp. MORE vegetable oil to the bowl to loosen things up. I think I heated it too long and that the extract had something to do with it, too. It finally came to a frosting-like consistency which worked well for spreading on top of the dark chocolate layer. If you can wait for the white chocolate to cool while still being soft enough to spread, that's great, because the cooler it is, the less it will melt the layer below it.
Remove the dark chocolate filled pans from the refrigerator. One at a time using a small spoon or rubber spatula, spread the white chocolate in a 1/4"+/- thick layer over the dark and immediately sprinkle with crushed candy canes, pressing very lightly to make sure pieces stick. When finished with all eight, set back in the refrigerator for 30 more minutes.
When you are ready to remove them from the pans, have a place ready to put them down. You don't want to stack or pile them right after you've manhandled them. They are pretty stable, but body heat will melt the chocolate eventually.
They are so pretty! And so tasty, obviously.
I stacked the ones we would be eating in a jar with a circle of parchment paper between each bark wheel to prevent chocolate cross-contamination. I wrapped the remainder in squares of wax paper covered with foil and put them in a bag in the freezer, until I figure out who I'm sending them to. Cookie baking might get left in the dust this year, replaced by the mighty donut!