Peppermint Bark

>> Thursday, December 13, 2012

I love to make Christmas treats. I look at recipes all year long in anticipation of which ones I'll make each year. Part of the joy of making all these treats is to give it away! One of my favorite things to do is to make gift baskets of homemade treats to give to friends, neighbors, and maybe keep a bit for myself too! 

This year, I'm going a little more low key since Baby Jackson is due any day now, and I want to make a few things in advance that will store for a bit, especially since some of these gift baskets this year will be going to the nurses at the hospital who will be helping me out - God Bless em! :) 

I made the traditional peppermint bark as one of the treats this year. It's so easy, there's no excuse to buy the store bought kind. And considering, with the cost being about $7.00 for an entire batch that can split into multiple servings - it's super affordable - way cheaper than the store bought stuff. And I can guarantee what kind of chocolate is in it - I went for the good stuff since the chocolate is the main ingredient. My favorite is Guittard chocolate. I know I've mentioned it on here before, and I think it's only available in California, but it's AMAZING, and totally worth it - even if you have to order it! :) 

Homemade Peppermint Bark - by Me

12 oz Guittard (or other high quality) semi sweet chocolate chips
12 oz Guittard or Ghiradelli white chocolate chips
1 Tbs. vegetable oil (only if needed)
approximately 12 mini candy canes or 6 regular ones

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or silpat. 

In a microwave safe bowl, place semisweet chocolate chips and microwave in 35-45 second increments, stirring after each heating until chocolate is completely melted. Pour and spread chocolate into prepared 9x13" pan. Place in freezer for approximately 20 minutes. 

While the chocolate is chilling, place candy canes in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin or glass. 

When there is a few minutes left for the semisweet chocolate, melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until smooth. If chocolate is not completely smooth, add 1 TBS vegetable oil until all smooth. Add about 1/4 of the candy cane mixture into the white chocolate and spread quickly onto chilled semisweet chocolate layer. Sprinkle the rest of the candy canes onto the top of the white chocolate and chill in freezer for an additional 20 minutes. 

Take out of freezer and turn over on cutting board. Use a knife or rolling pin and pound gently to break into pieces. Enjoy. 


2nd Annual Blogger Cookie Swap - Nutmeg Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

>> Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I love cookies! and I love Christmas cookies! 

Because I love to be in a sugar coma from cookies starting December 1st through December 31st, I decided to once again participate in the Food Blogger Cookie Swap. This is my second year (and the cookie swaps second year), and it as always is so much fun. The anticipation of cookies coming in the mail is almost more than I can bear! :) 

Thank you to my awesome cookie swap matches! It's always so fun to learn about new bloggers. 
I got some yummy Ginger Molasses Cookies from Allix @ The NonPareil Baker
Sweet and delicious Oatmeal Cranberry white chocolate chip cookies from Kristen @ The Slender Kitchen
And perfectly chewy and unique deep dish chocolate chip cookies from Sarah @ Sensibly Sara

This year I decided to do a twist on my browned butter molasses chocolate chip cookies. These just went up a whole notch! I found a similar recipe to mine that got all crazy delicious in the Ruche holiday recipe guide

These cookies have a hint of coffee, a hint of nutmeg, sweetened condensed milk, and if all that weren't enough, you brown the butter for the most amazing flavor combination. They are intense, but wonderful... and I guarantee you won't be able to eat just one. 

So, I made them all, surprisingly got them all packaged up instead of eating them, and sent them to my matches. Even made a few for friends since they were so yummy. Packaging is half the fun in this cookie swap. Here's how I decided to package mine up this year - hope they made it ok! :)


Happy Cookie Swap! 

Nutmeg Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Adapted from She Runs, She Eats - Ruche Holiday Recipes)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned and cooled to room temperature
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp ground coffee
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

1. In a skillet, place butter and allow to melt. Keep cooking for a few minutes until most of the large foam bubbles disappear and butter is golden brown and nutty smelling. I know, very official. :) Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

2. In a large bowl, mix together coffee, flour, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. 

3. In a separate bowl, combine cooled browned butter and brown sugar until combined. Follow this with the sweetened condensed milk, egg, and vanilla. Continue to whisk until smooth. 

4. Stir flour mixture into butter/sugar mixture and continue stirring until all flour is completely mixed in. 

5. Mix in chocolate chips and stir until combined. Mixture will be thick. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350. Roll about 1 1/2" balls of dough. Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper approximately 1" apart, and press dough down until flattened. Bake cookies for ~13-15 minutes (depending on if you use a metal pan or not), until tops of cookies are crisp and slightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes on baking tray and transfer to cooling rack to complete cooling.