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Cookies Are So 'Last Year,' So Leave Santa Peppermint Bark Instead

Grab a few candy canes off the tree and make this easy, decadent candy.

If you want to do something special for the teacher that lights up your child's eye, the neighbor who grabs your newspaper when you're not home or for you-know-who coming down the chimney, then this peppermint bark is the perfect gift.  

While it couldn't be easier to make, here are a few tricks to make it fool-proof:

Melting chocolate: Chocolate should be melted over indirect heat or it will melt into a lumpy and grainy mess and you'll have to start all over again. A double boiler is a pot on top of a pot that you can buy or you can make your own by putting a few inches of water in a pot and place a heat-proof bowl on top with the chocolate in it. Bring the water to a gentle boil and the steam will melt the chocolate to a beautiful, silky consistency. The microwave is another option, but not the best. Microwave wattage can be uneven meaning the chocolate gets scorched on the edges and stays unmelted in the middle. Stay old school with a double boiler.

Peppermint extract: Not to be confused with "mint" extract which tastes like toothpaste and will ruin your confection. You do not want to make this mistake two days before Christmas.

Non-stick aluminum foil: Nothing sticks to this and it's a cook's best friend in the kitchen. Use it to keep anything from sticking, eliminating the hassle of greasing a pan. It's the only thing to use when making bark.

Crushing candy canes: Seems simple, but those little crushed candy shards can pierce the plastic bag and make a big mess. Don't take your aggression out on this one, be gentle!

Variations: Use this recipe as your guide and the chocolate combinations of your choice. Whether it's white, milk, dark or a combo, the end result is guaranteed to be festive and tasty. You can half or double the recipe too with the same success every time.

Peppermint Bark

Prep time: 15 minutes + cooling

Makes: About 2 pounds

1 pound white chocolate, in small pieces

1 pound dark chocolate, in small pieces

1 teaspoon peppermint extract, divided

12 full size peppermint candy-canes

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.  Place unwrapped candy canes in a plastic zip-top bag and gently crush with a rolling pin or the back of a spoon. Set aside.

To melt the chocolate: Place white or dark chocolate (not both) in a double boiler or a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the peppermint extract and half of the crushed candy canes.  

Pour melted chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and spread as thin as possible. Chill until set and make the second layer.

Repeat the process with the remaining white or dark chocolate leaving 1/4 cup of crushed candy canes to sprinkle on top. Quickly spread melted chocolate on top of cooled chocolate so the base layer doesn't melt again. Sprinkle remaining crushed candy canes on top.

Chill candy again, about 30 minutes.  Break into pieces. 

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