December 18th, 2011 | Link
My mom was a big Christmas baker when I was a kid: shortbread, sugar cookies, gingersnaps, Nanaimo bars, mincemeat tarts and chocolate-covered cherries (which had a crunchy nut layer between the maraschino cherry and the chocolate — I loved the nut layer and the chocolate but not the cherries, and years later we found a bunch of petrified cherry remains behind the piano). When I moved out of my parents home I continued that tradition for a while with my own specialties: miniature brownies, meringues, gingerbread.
I haven’t done much baking since I got married, since E. won’t (or can’t) eat most of it, and we were often at my parents’ place for Christmas anyway. Sometimes, though, we have a party or two to attend, and then I have an excuse to indulge my sweet tooth a bit. Yesterday was more about making candy than baking, but it was indulging nonetheless.
This peppermint bark recipe from the Food Network was super easy to make. I cut the recipe in half because I didn’t really need two pounds of candy(!), and I sprinkled a handful of leftover crushed candy canes on top for some sparkle. I melted the white chocolate in the microwave 30 seconds at a time at 50% power, stirring after each burst, until it was fully melted. Took maybe 15 minutes, including hammering the heck out of the candy cane.
I love fudge, but I don’t remember the last time I tried to make it — probably as a teenager, and I sort of remember it being a major fail. Perhaps because I didn’t have a candy thermometer at the time and was trying to cook to some “ball” stage that I had no reference point for. Candy thermometer and Alton Brown’s Chocolate Fudge recipe for the win! My one critical mistake was that I accidentally used semi-sweet chocolate instead of unsweetened, so it’s really, really sweet. But still edible!