Thursday, December 24, 2009

Peppermint Bark and Chocolate Pretzel Rods

Ho Ho Ho! It's Christmas Eve, and I am literally wearing pants with an elastic waistband as I type this. The jeans and I are done until 2010, but I'm headed home to my mom's kitchen, where this cooking madness all began for me.

I wanted to share a couple of really quick, really easy recipes in case the last-minute baking bug bites. Peppermint bark has been a favorite in my family for years, and it couldn't be simpler. The trick is getting good quality white chocolate. I prefer getting a block of white chocolate from my favorite cooking store, but if you're shopping at the grocery store, white chocolate chips are fine too.


Melt your chocolate (about two bags of chips) on a double boiler. If it's not melting smoothly, add a couple tablespoons of butter (it's ok, butter is fat free during the holidays).


When your chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and add about 1 1/2 cups of rice crispies. These will make the bark crunchy like a crunch bar. Spread the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. If you want it thicker (and more fudge-like), spread it into a 9x13" baking dish (it's easier to get out later if you line it with wax paper).

Crush up about 8 candy canes... This will look familiar, since we used the same candy canes for the Chocolate Decadence cookies.

Sprinkle the candy canes over the chocolate. Press them in gently so they stick. Pop the tray into the refrigerator until it's chilled and solid, a few hours.

When you're ready to serve your bark, use a sharp chef's knife to cut it. Your pieces will likely not be uniform squares, but rough shapes. Like bark on a tree! You can keep your peppermint bark in an airtight container at room temp for at least a week, but it doesn't last longer than that in my house!


Now for once last little bit of sweetness, try these adorable and festive pretzel treats!

Pretzel rods can be found in the pretzel aisle at the grocery shore. Melt your favorite chocolate. We used semisweet, but that's because I have a monster 4lb bag of semisweet chips. Next time I will use dark chocolate, perhaps with melted white chocolate to drizzle over the top. The possibilities are endless!

Dunk your pretzel in the chocolate, then roll it in a plate of sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut, or any other topping you like. We went for rainbow sprinkles here, but festive holiday sprinkles would be a nice touch too. Lay the finished pretzels on a baking sheet covered in wax paper to dry. These look great on a party table. Set them in a tall thin glass for a cute presentation.
Happy holidays everyone!!!

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