Peppermint bark is a form of candy which is made in flat sheets; when broken up, the sheets resemble small chunks of bark, which explains the name. In addition to making peppermint bark, it is also possible to make candy barks with ingredients like nuts, fruit, and chunks of other candy materials, for a wide range of textures and flavors. Candy bark can be eaten plain or used to garnish desserts ranging from mousse to elaborate cookies.
Peppermint flavoring is specifically associated with the holidays for many people, perhaps because it is used in candy canes. To make peppermint bark, cooks melt white chocolate, add peppermint extract, and then pour the chocolate out onto a waxed pan. The chocolate is allowed to harden, and then it is broken up into chunks. Many people like to add pieces of peppermint candy or candy canes to make peppermint crunch bark, which combines the creamy texture of chocolate with the crisp crunch of hard candy.
There are a wide range of variations on peppermint bark. For example, it can be made with dark or milk chocolate as a base instead of white chocolate, or cooks can make layered bark, melting a layer of dark chocolate and then adding a layer of white chocolate with peppermint flavoring. Peppermint bark can also be dipped in various kinds of chocolate for a flavorful coating.
There are all sorts of creative ways to use this sweet treat. For example, it can be set out in trays at holiday parties, or given away in gift bags to guests during the holiday season. It can also be added to servings of ice cream, cake, mousse, pot de crème, and other desserts as a crunchy and visually appearing garnish. Peppermint bark can also be used in the construction of gingerbread houses and other holiday scenes made from sweets. For example, it can make an excellent construction medium for a cradle, if you wish to display a Nativity scene made from candy.
You do not need a hard and fast recipe to make peppermint bark, as the flavor is a matter of personal taste. As a general rule, you want to use around one half teaspoon of peppermint extract for every two pounds (roughly one kilogram) of chocolate, with one half to three quarters of a cup of chunky inclusions like crushed peppermint candy. Feel free to use your imagination when making peppermint bark, and don't feel limited to the holiday season!