Peppermint Bark Success, Bev’s Cinnamon Bread and Holiday Ham Tips for best Spiral Ham

I’ve often said the reason I continue to write this column every week is because of you, my readers. We have a real connection.

Some examples: the other day at the recycling center, Dana, in customer service, mentioned how she enjoys this column. Truth be told, I was surprised she recognized me behind the mask!

Ditto with Beverly G., an Eastgate reader, who rang my purchases up at Macy’s. Beverly showed me a photo of the cinnamon bread recipe I had published and which she made. “It turned out so nice,” she said. Indeed it did. See her photo here.

Hyde Park Reader Terry Robinson makes my peppermint bark for gifts. Through the years, I’ve shared several versions. Today it will be Terry’s favorite. 

My preference is high quality bar chocolate. Terry uses high quality chocolate chips/morsels and has great results. So you have a choice!

Yes, the bark recipe is very detailed – that’s because melting chocolate is a technique.
And if you’re serving a spiral or honey baked ham for the holiday, I’ve got you covered with tips for reheating.

Wms Sonoma peppermint bark clone

Don’t use “chocolate flavored” bar or chips. 

UPDATE!! Up until making this last batch, I advised to use either all bar chocolate, or chips/morsels to make sure layers bond. Well, this time I didn’t have enough of either to make a batch so I mixed the high quality dark chocolate chips with the high quality bar chocolate. Ditto with the white chocolate (both white chocolate labels were the same: sugar first, cocoa butter second).

Guess what? SUCCESS!! I’m pretty sure the reason is both the dark and white chocolate bars and chips were high quality without paraffin, etc. and other non essential ingredients.

One more thing: a little less, or more of any ingredient is OK.

The main thing is to pull chocolates off heat while a few unmelted pieces remain. The residual heat will allow you to smooth the chocolate out with a spatula.

Ingredients

12 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate – Terry uses 43% cacao (Wms Sonoma uses 61%)  

18 oz. white chocolate — first ingredient should be sugar, second cocoa butter

1/2 teaspoon real peppermint extract or couple drops food grade peppermint oil

1/2 cup or so crushed peppermint (you can sift it if you want to remove the tiny powdery pieces – optional)

9×13 pan, lined with foil and sprayed *** see other ways of melting also

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250.
  2. Pour dark chocolate in pan and melt in oven 2-5 minutes only. The goal is to have a little chocolate still unmelted which prevents overcooking/seizing. Spread to smooth.
  3. You can also melt it on the stovetop in a quality, heavy nonstick pan on low for a couple of minutes or in a bowl in the microwave: Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir, then put back in until most, but not all, chocolate has melted. Start checking after 30 seconds or so. Stir to smooth.
  4. Refrigerate 20 minutes or until chocolate loses sheen and is firm (don’t refrigerate longer than necessary; it may stay too cold/hard, causing separation of layers when you cut it).
  5. Meanwhile melt white chocolate in double boiler, or very low heat in nonstick pan for a couple of minutes (see photos below of white chocolate) or in microwave. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir, then put back in until most, but not all, chocolate has melted. Start checking after 30 seconds or so. Stir to smooth. Careful, white chocolate burns easily.
  6. Add extract or oil.
  7. Pour white chocolate over dark chocolate layer and smooth. 
  8. Sprinkle peppermint and tap with spatula to adhere.
  9. Let sit on counter until hard. 
  10. Cut with sharp knife or break into pieces. If layers do separate a bit, “glue” with smear of melted chocolate. 

NOTE: WITH A GOOD, HEAVY, NONSTICK PAN LIKE THIS YOU CAN MELT BOTH DARK AND WHITE CHOCOLATES ON THE STOVETOP ON LOW – TAKES ONLY A COUPLE OF MINUTES. PULL FROM HEAT WHILE SOME UNMELTED CHOCOLATE REMAINS. SEE PHOTOS BELOW OF WHITE CHOCOLATE MELTED ON STOVE.

White chocolate in quality nonstick pan

After about 2 minutes on low on the stovetop – now it’s time to pull it off the stove and stir to smooth unmelted pieces
Smooth!

Ready for the white chocolate layer
White chocolate ready to smooth out with spatula

Store covered in refrigerator. 

After sitting at room temperature to harden, bark is ready to cut/break

FIVE MINUTE WHITE PEPPERMINT BARK
A must for the peppermint lovers on your list. 

24 oz. white chocolate chips

1 heaping cup crushed candy canes divided into 3/4 and 1/4 cups

1 cup rice krispy cereal

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or over very low heat in a nonstick pan. Remove from heat when most, but not all, of the chips are melted. Stir to smooth. Add 3/4 cup candy and cereal. Stir and pour onto sprayed foil lined cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle with 1/4 cup candy.

Refrigerate until firm and break into pieces. Store in refrigerator. 

GOURMET LAYERED PEPPERMINT BARK

We made this in cooking class a few years ago and it was a huge hit. It’s my most popular bark recipe. Now this one takes a bit more time, and more expensive ingredients, than the white peppermint bark. If you follow directions, you’ll get a beautiful, 3 layered bark that rivals anything you can buy. Don’t use chocolate chips – buy high quality bar chocolate and chop it.  

Yield: Makes 36 pieces

Ingredients

17 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), finely chopped

30 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed (about 6 ounces – can use candy canes

7 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons whipping cream

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Instructions

Turn large baking sheet bottom side up. Cover securely with foil. Mark 12 x 9-inch rectangle on foil. Stir white chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) until chocolate is melted and smooth and candy thermometer registers 110°F. (chocolate will feel warm to touch). Remove from over water. Pour 2/3 cup melted white chocolate onto rectangle on foil. Using icing spatula, spread chocolate to fill rectangle. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crushed peppermints. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.

Stir bittersweet chocolate, cream and peppermint extract in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Pour bittersweet chocolate mixture in long lines over white chocolate rectangle. Using icing spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate in even layer. Refrigerate until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.

Rewarm remaining white chocolate in bowl set over barely simmering water to 110°F. Working quickly, pour white chocolate over firm bittersweet chocolate layer; spread to cover. Immediately sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.

Lift foil with bark onto work surface; trim edges. Cut bark crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. If bark is too cold to cut, let sit out a few minutes.

Using metal spatula, slide bark off foil and onto work surface. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections and each section diagonally into 2 triangles. (Can be made 3 weeks ahead. Chill in airtight container.) Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Honey baked/spiral ham warming tips:

Ham is already cooked, you’re just reheating it. And not at a high temperature or for very long or you’ll wind up with dry, overcooked ham. 

To keep it nice and juicy, wrap tightly in double layer of foil.

Pour a bit of water around it in pan.

Heat at 275 about 10 minutes per pound. Heat only until warm, about 140 degrees.

If separate glaze is included, glaze about 20 minutes prior to when ham is done.

Separate slices a bit so glaze goes down between slices. Put foil back on ham to finish heating.

2 thoughts on “Peppermint Bark Success, Bev’s Cinnamon Bread and Holiday Ham Tips for best Spiral Ham

  1. What would you do for replicating their dark chocolate peppermint bark? I have a bunch of white chocolate haters in my family.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.