Dessert / Dining Out

Instagram (Food) Porn & Peppermint Bark

In honor of everyone deciding they hate Instagram now, here’s some filtered food porn from some of the awesome meals I’ve had out while at home this week.

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Dinner at Left Bank in Santana Row: steak tartare appetizer, heirloom beet salad w/ goat cheese crostini, and onion soup

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Lunch at Falafel’s Drive In in San Jose: large falafel sandwich & banana shake combo meal (with extra sauce on the side)

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Dinner at Layang Layang in Cupertino: green papaya salad, pad thai, mango chicken, princess tofu (in an oyster sauce)

Now that that’s out of my system, I made peppermint bark today. It’s for my grandma, because she wanted my mom to pick up some of those Ghiradelli peppermint bark squares, but the homemade stuff is so much better, plus it’s insanely easy to make. Candy making is notoriously difficult, but bark? Not so much. All you really have to do is melt some chocolate and layer it. The most difficult part is crushing the candy canes, but hey, it’s a great way to squeeze in your arm workout for the day!

There are tons of peppermint bark recipes online and all sorts of variations, but here’s what I did. If you want to add a different texture and mix things up a bit, you can also throw in about 3/4 cup Rice Krispies to the white chocolate when you stir in the peppermint and candy cane pieces. It gives a nice added crunch, and it’s something you don’t always see in bark. This time, I kept it pretty basic/traditional though and skipped the cereal.

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Easy-Peasy Peppermint Bark (contains no peas)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
About 2 lbs white chocolate, chopped (I used about 1 1/3 20 oz. bags of Palmer Melt n’ Make White Chocolate Bark), divided
12-15 candy canes
1 tsp peppermint extract, divided
Red food coloring

Line an 11×17 baking sheet with parchment paper. To help prevent the paper from sliding, spray with nonstick spray first. Spray parchment paper lightly with nonstick spray on top, as well.

Remove candy canes from their plastic wrapping and crush/chop them. You can do this with a knife, but I placed the candy canes in a plastic bag, then put that bag in another bag, then wrapped it in a kitchen towel and used a rolling pin to crush the candy,

Place semisweet chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 1-minute increments, stirring with a spatula in between, until completely melted. Spread chocolate on the baking sheet in a thin layer.

Using a double boiler, melt most of the white chocolate, stirring constantly. I saved 3 of the candy melt squares, not sure how much that weighs out to (you want to save enough to melt and drizzle over all the bark later). Once the chocolate in the double boiler is melted, add 3/4 tsp peppermint extract and some of the crushed candy cane pieces; stir into the chocolate.

Pour white chocolate over the semisweet chocolate on the baking sheet. Spread evenly and top with crushed candy canes. I mostly used the powder, because I liked how it looked, but use bigger pieces for more of a crunch.

Melt the remaining white chocolate in either the double boiler or microwave. Add 1/4 peppermint extract, or more to your liking. Add red food coloring (I used about 4 drops of coloring) and stir until desired color is reached. Using a spoon, drizzle over the bark on the baking sheet. Top with remaining candy cane pieces, if any are left.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour, then break into bite-size pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for best results.

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I stored the bark I made in some holiday/festive cookie tins from Walgreens. Because I’ll be flying with mine, I wanted to make sure the candy wouldn’t crumble or melt together, so I arranged the pieces in single layers and used wax paper between each layer.

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