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A simple layered holiday bark made with white and semi-sweet chocolates, flavored with peppermint, and garnished with crushed candy canes.
Nothing screams Christmas time more than peppermint bark, don’t you agree? That iconic black and white contrast piece of candy speckled with bright red and white candy cane bits– it’s like a holiday must have!
Williams-Sonoma and Ghirardelli have the monopoly over the peppermint bark market, and do you know how much W-S charges per POUND of the stuff?
It costs me $10-12ish to make a pound. Plus… Love.
There’s always love in my baked goods. That’s why they taste so good!
This peppermint bark candy is so simple, but there are some really important things you must know before you get started, and it has absolutely everything to do with ingredients.
You will need 4 simple ingredients: semi-sweet chocolate, white chocolate, peppermint extract, and candy canes.
SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE LAYER
First things first, you’re going to need some high quality (I cannot stress this enough) chocolate for this peppermint bark.
I advise you to follow this simple rule: absolutely no chips.
And this goes for both the semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate portions of this layered peppermint bark, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Chocolate chips of any kind are made with stabilizers that prevent them from melting into the silky smooth texture you’ll need for this bark.
Stabilized chocolate is great for inside cookies, where you want the chips to keep their shape! Not so much when we’re looking for pourable, spreadable, smoooooth chocolate.
Ghirardelli, Baker’s, Lindt, or even Hershey’s are great choices for the semi-sweet chocolate portion of this peppermint bark recipe.
WHITE CHOCOLATE LAYER
For the white chocolate layer, it is imperative that you do some label checking and get actual, true white chocolate.
When it comes to making a layered dessert like chocolate peppermint bark, it’s crucial that your layers stay separate but that they also bond together.
Traditional white chocolate is made with cocoa butter but replacements such as white melting wafers or white candy melts use palm kernel oil instead.
This is where the label checking comes in and is crucial for your peppermint bark bonding!
Palm kernel oil will inhibit your white layer bonding to your dark layer, and I know this to be true because I learned it the hard way.
After batches and batches of the best peppermint bark on the block, I had a flop and could not figure out what I did wrong.
I did some research and it turned out that the white melting wafers I had leftover because I so love using them for other purposes (chocolate covered pretzels, witch finger pretzels, Christmas Oreos, reindeer cookies) were causing my white chocolate layer and semi-sweet chocolate layer to separate.
Don’t worry– that peppermint chocolate bark didn’t go to waste– you just had to eat it like a sandwich!
But please, pay attention to the white “chocolate” you have: it should be made with cocoa butter. White baking chocolate, which comes in bar form, is the best option for this.
There are true white chocolate melting wafers that exist (seen here in my setup) but you’ll typically find those at a specialty candy store.
Peppermint extract goes directly into the melted semi-sweet chocolate as just a little extra mint “oomph” to complement those crunchy candy canes.
I promise it will not make your chocolate taste like toothpaste. Just ¼ teaspoon in the entire 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate.
Lastly, you will need candy canes or some kind of hard peppermint candies such as starlight mints. And you’re going to need them all crushed up.
I aim for a lot of little pieces and some larger pieces, keeping in mind the larger pieces will not stick as easily to the white chocolate top layer because you’ll cover a lot of surface area with the smaller pieces.
If you want mostly bigger pieces, you can always sift them out, sprinkle them on first, and then fill in gaps with the smaller pieces.
HOW TO MAKE PEPPERMINT BARK
First, you’ll want to line an 8″ x 8″ baking pan with foil, parchment, or wax paper. I prefer wax paper, but I have made it with foil or parchment plenty of times.
Next, melt the semi-sweet chocolate, add the peppermint extract, and pour it into the prepared pan.
You’ll want to spread it around evenly with a spatula to insure it gets into the corners and lays an even, flat platform upon which you will build your homemade peppermint bark.
Rap the pan on the counter a few times to get the layer nice and even and also encourage any air bubbles to get on out of there.
Pop this layer in the fridge for about 20 minutes so it can harden completely.
Next, layer on the white chocolate.
I like to distribute this layer as evenly as I can so I’m not working with one giant white chocolate puddle in the middle of my semi-sweet layer.
Smooth out this white chocolate layer carefully but quickly with a spatula. Try not to disturb the semi-sweet chocolate layer below, but know that this will not alter the taste, only the aesthetic.
Then, while the white chocolate is still wet, sprinkle liberally with the crushed candy canes.
Again, rap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles and to help those candy cane pieces settle.
I’m telling you, it’s dangerously easy to make this holiday staple, and if you read closely, I’ll give you some extra tips in the recipe to help make this go as smoothy as possible.
HOW TO CUT PEPPERMINT BARK
Once the bark is nicely put together, completely chilled, and ready to devour, you have the choice of breaking it apart by hand or cutting it up into squares with a very sharp knife.
I like to change it up and do both, but when I choose to to cut my easy peppermint bark into squares, I let the entire pan sit on the counter for about 10 minutes after taking it out of the fridge to soften up a bit.
If you try to cut into very cold chocolate, you’ll likely end up with jagged edges and possibly flying bits of chocolate strewn about your kitchen.
Then again, breaking it apart can also yield some similar fun adventures, so even if I want jaggy pieces, I still typically slice it with a knife so I’m sure I can get those smooth, beautiful edges.
This recipe for peppermint bark is one of my favorite to include in my Christmas cookie tins, because it’s easy to whip up right before packing things up, it’s festive, and it lasts quite some time– long after the cookies are gone (if it lasts that long).
Sweet, smoothy, chocolatey, and oh-so-pepperminty. Christmas time is here, y’all. So let’s peppermint bark it up.
- 8 ounces (227g) high quality semi-sweet chocolate1 coarsely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 8 ounces (227g) high quality white chocolate2 coarsely chopped
- 3 to 4 large candy canes crushed
- Line an 8" baking pan with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or wax paper, allowing lining to come up and hang off the sides of the pan. Smooth out any wrinkles and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the semi-sweet chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth. You may also do this in the microwave, melting chocolate in 15 second intervals and stirring thoroughly with a spatula between each interval.
- Once chocolate is completely melted, add the peppermint extract. Mixture may bubble a little bit, but this is ok. Stir to thoroughly combine
- Pour melted semi-sweet chocolate into prepared baking pan, spreading with a spatula into an even layer (it will be very thin– this is ok). Rap pan on counter top several times to settle chocolate and remove any air bubbles. Place pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until completely set.
- When semi-sweet chocolate is completely set, melt the white chocolate, again in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. You may also do this in the microwave, melting chocolate in 15 second intervals and stirring thoroughly with a spatula between each interval.
- Pour melted white chocolate directly and evenly on top of semi-sweet layer, gently spreading with a spatula into an even layer. Be careful not to disturb the semi-sweet layer on the bottom, as it will melt a bit once the hot white chocolate hits it. Rap pan on counter top several times to settle chocolate and remove any air bubbles.
- While white chocolate is still wet, sprinkle crushed candy canes on top and tap pan on counter again to settle everything. Place pan in the refrigerator or at room temperature until completely set.
- Once entire pan is completely hardened, remove bark from the pan using the overhang as handles and peel off the lining. Break into desired size pieces or cut2 into squares. Bark should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for up to 3 weeks.
- Semi-sweet chocolate: it is very important that you use high-quality chocolate for this peppermint bark. Do not use chips.
- White chocolate: check the ingredients on your white chocolate to make sure it contains cocoa butter and not palm kernel oil, which will inhibit your chocolate layers from bonding. Candy melts or white melting wafers will not work here. It’s best to stick with white bar chocolate to be safe.
- Cutting into squares: if you choose to cut into squares rather than break apart with your hands, allow pan to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, then cut using a very sharp knife.