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Monday 2 December 2013

Gluten Free: Peppermint Bark

Every year I vow to get organised for Christmas and every year I end up in a panic somewhere around the 20th December when I realise that all my plan for homemade gifts for friends and family have gone awry. Instead of working harder than all of Santa's elves combined to make Christmas, this year I'm keeping it simple.

It doesn't get simpler than peppermint bark. It's just melted chocolate with crushed candy canes set into it. Basically, it's mint chocolate with a festive twist. You can use any chocolate you like, plain, milk or white. I like to use dark chocolate, because the sweetness of the candy canes can make the whole thing too sickly-sweet.

For the best results, you should temper your chocolate. You don't need to, but that's what gives chocolate that lovely 'crack' and keeps it shiny. It doesn't require any special equipment of skills, just a bit of patience. My lovely friend, Liz, from The Cheeky Chocolate Company recommends the 'seeding' method, which involves adding little pieces of solid chocolate to your melted chocolate until it reaches the right temperature.

Peppermint Bark
You'll need:
  • 300g decent chocolate (nothing too fancy, but something you'd happily eat yourself)
  • 150g peppermint candy canes
Make it!
  1. Break up 200g of the chocolate and put in a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl on top of a saucepan of just-simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the surface of the water. Leave to melt, don't poke at it!
  2. Unwrap your candy canes and put them in a sturdy freezer bag (thin ones will break and you'll shower yourself and the kitchen with sticky crumbs). Bash with a rolling pin until the candy canes are in small pieces. Not so much you have crumbs, just so there aren't any big chunks left.
  3. When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat, but don't chuck the water away yet! 
  4. Add most of the remaining 100g of chocolate, stirring gently to melt.
  5. Take a teaspoonful of the chocolate and spread it on the edge of a plate. It should be touch dry in approximately 5 minutes. If not, it's too warm and you need to add a little more solid chocolate. If it sets with grey or white streaks, the mixture is too cool and you need to pop it back on the warm pan for a wee bit.
  6. When you're happy with the chocolate, pour it on to a sheet of baking paper, spreading gently.
  7. Sprinkle the pieces of candy canes over the surface of the chocolate. The chocolate with spread out a bit when you do this, so make sure you haven't spread it right to the edge of your baking paper!
  8. Leave to set completely before snapping into shards.
Always read the label on your chocolate to make sure it's gluten free, quite a few bars have the dreaded 'may contain traces...' warning. I've used Tesco's Finest 72% cocoa bars here. The same goes for the candy canes, try sweet shops or John Lewis, as the supermarket ones all seem to carry the warning about traces of gluten. Then go about looking organised for Christmas when all you've been doing in the kitchen is bashing up candy canes.

1 comment:

  1. These look great, sound tasty and don't look too difficult to make


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