It is that beautiful time of year again. Where noses turn pink from cold, homes are dressed to the nines with holiday sparkle, and the flavor of peppermint finds its way into the most delightful of treats. One of my standby holiday sweets is Peppermint Bark, melted down white chocolate mixed with peppermint extract and chopped hard candy, it pretty much guarantees that it will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Last year I participated in McCormick’s 2012 Flavor Forecast, where I discovered the wonder that is Korean red pepper paste and the magical things it does to meats in marinades. This year they were kind enough to invite me to join once again with McCormick’s 2013 Flavor Forecast, and I couldn’t be more excited to share the information I’ve learned with you all and how it’s inspired me to give a new twist to a favorite old treat. I was able to have a chat with McCormick’s Chef Mark Garcia about the meaning and flavors behind the coming year’s forecast, and in summation, the highlights of the 2013 Flavor Forecast are:
- No Apologies Necessary: People are making the conscious
decision to set aside time to cook flavorful, quality meals where they can
simply enjoy the experience of eating.
- Personally Handcrafted: Home cooks are becoming more
interested in creating their own signature ingredients and recipes, like
making their own ketchups, relishes, and jams.
- Empowered Eating: Individuals are increasingly incorporating health-conscious meals & ingredients into their diet.
- Hidden Potential: Foodies are becoming more resourceful with
ingredients, unearthing uses for parts of animals and plants that are
often discarded or overlooked, like oxtails, the stems of herbs, or
shank meat cuts.
- Global My Way: People are no longer limiting cultural
ingredients to dishes particular to that ethnicity, but are beginning to
use them in a whole host of new and creative dishes.
Inspired by the No Apologies Necessarytheme, I decided to make my own rose & allspice-flavored hard candy and use it in the peppermint bark instead of the traditional crushed candy canes. Taking the time to make the hard candy from scratch felt great, because I was able to make my dish just the way I wanted it rather than being stuck with the array of hard candies that are available at most supermarkets. And for me, cooking is a very zen experience, so it allowed me more time to relax and to have fun with what I was creating. And let me tell you, the final result was divine. White chocolate mixed with the mint, allspice, and rose flavors created a creamy spiced floral flavor I haven’t experienced in any other sweet.
Minted Rose Peppermint Bark
Minted White Chocolate Bark
- 4 10 Oz. Packages White Chocolate Chips
- 1 Teaspoon McCormick Peppermint Extract
- 6-8 Drops McCormick Red Food Coloring
- Parchment Paper
Rose & Allspice Hard Candy
- 1 and 3/4 Cups Plus 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Rose Water
- 1/4 Teaspoon McCormick Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 Teaspoon McCormick Ground Allspice
- 4 Drops McCormick Red Food Coloring
- Candy Thermometer
- Parchment Paper
- First, make the hard candy. Mix together the water, corn syrup, and sugar in a medium sized pot over low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the ingredients are completely combined. Then, without stirring, bring the mixture to a boil and allow it to continue to heat up until the mixture reaches 310 degrees Fahrenheit with a candy thermometer. Stir in the rose water, vanilla extract, ground allspice, and food coloring, making sure it is still at 310 degrees Fahrenheit after you add them. If it is, you can remove it from the heat, if not keep it on the heat until it goes back up to 310 degrees Fahrenheit, then remove it. Pour the candy into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and allow to cool to room temperature, then place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours to help it harden. Break the candy into pieces (I used plastic sandwich bags and a meat tenderizer mallet) and set aside.
- To make the bark, melt down the white chocolate chips in a large double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly. Once it is melted, immediately remove it from the heat and pour half of it into another bowl. Quickly add the red food coloring to one of the bowls and stir until it is a smooth shade of pink. Add equal amounts of the hard candy to each bowl and stir until combined. Spread the pink white chocolate bark onto a 9 x 13 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper, then spread the regular white chocolate bark on top of the pink layer. Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow to cool for 4 hours (or overnight at room temperature) before breaking it into pieces for serving.