Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Bark (and Other Treats)

This year, I decided to cut back on my holiday baking, much to the dismay of my friends and family. I usually tend to go overboard and bake far too many treats, so I figured I would save us all a few pounds this holiday season! 

But obviously I couldn’t go cold turkey and not make anything, so I decided to go with a ‘Bark’ theme. There are so many different varieties of bark and it’s super easy to make and is perfect for sharing! So I narrowed it down to 4 different types of bark, as well as some Christmas Crack and Peanut Brittle, which are always a hit.

For the barks, I went with classic Candy Cane Bark, Mint Oreo Bark, Dark Chocolate Surprise Bark and Sweet & Salty White Chocolate Bark. All of these barks were ridiculously easy to make, and just required 7 simple steps:
  1. Melt chocolate (using a double boiler, or for 1 minute intervals in the microwave)
  2. Add additional ingredients (the possibilities are endless)
  3. Stir to combine
  4. Spread on baking sheet lined with wax paper
  5. Chill until chocolate is set, about 3 hours 
  6. Break bark into pieces 
  7. Eat and enjoy (definitely my favourite step!)
To reproduce my bark creations, here are the ingredients that I used for each:

Candy Cane Bark:
  • 1 lb of white chocolate wafers
  • 10 candy canes (finely chopped)
  • ½ tsp of peppermint extract
  • Green sprinkles
Mint Oreo Bark:
  • ¾ lb of white chocolate wafers
  • ¼ lb of milk chocolate wafers
  • 20 mint Oreo cookies (finely chopped) 
  • ½ tsp of peppermint extract 
  • Green food coloring (for white chocolate)
Dark Chocolate Surprise Bark:
  • 1 lb of dark chocolate wafers
  • 1 ½ cups of dried cranberries
  • 1 ½ cups of pistachios
  • ¾ cup of shredded coconut (unsweetened)
Sweet & Salty White Chocolate Bark:
  • 1 lb of white chocolate wafers
  • 2 cups of pretzels (chopped)
  • 1 cup roasted almonds (whole)*
  • 2 tbsp sea salt (to sprinkle on top)
*To roast almonds, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a cold oven. Turn oven on to 350°F and bake almonds, stirring occasionally, until light tan and fragrant, for about 12 to 15 minutes.

Now, the Christmas Crack and Peanut Brittle requires slightly more time and effort, however, it is still quite easy.

Christmas Crack

  • 50 saltine crackers (approx.)
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cubed
  • 1 cup soft light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • Decoration (sprinkles, M&Ms, nuts etc.)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F.
  2. Line a large pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray and then line the pan with saltine crackers.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in a medium sized pot over low medium-low heat. Stir until the butter is melted. Once the butter has melted, bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly.
  4. Once it's nice and bubbly, remove pan from heat and pour evenly over saltine crackers. Spread mixture with a knife...however it doesn't have to be perfect. Try to move fast during this part so the toffee doesn't harden.
  5. Place pan in the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. The mixture will spread evenly over the crackers as it bakes.
  6. Remove pan from oven and then sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the toffee while it's still hot. Let the chocolate chips melt for a few minutes and then spread all over the toffee with a spatula. 
  7. Top with sprinkles or M&M's (or nuts) on top and then place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once chocolate has hardened, break pieces off the foil and store in an airtight container. 
Peanut Brittle

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup 
  • ⅛ tsp of salt 
  • 1 cup dry-roasted raw peanuts 
  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  1. Combine sugar, corn syrup and salt in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. 
  2. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 310°F. 
  3. Add peanuts, and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until the thermometer is at 280°F. 
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and remaining ingredients.
  5. Pour mixture onto a metal surface or into a shallow pan. 
  6. Allow to stand 5 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces.
Substitutions/Additions: You may wish to substitute peanuts for pecans, or try adding in 1 cup of popped popcorn before you pour the mixture into the pan. Yummy!

After all of my creations sufficiently chilled, I broke them into pieces and divvied them up amongst my friends and family. All in all, this year’s “baking” day was much, much easier than usual, and took far less time and effort than past years. I highly recommend others to go the ‘bark’ route!

I also may have made one batch of shortbread cookies. You can find the recipe here:

No comments:

Post a Comment