Archive for: peppermint
Peppermint was definitely the flavor of the holidays this year, and I saw more specialty peppermint goodies than ever before – and this includes products in the baking aisle, not just in the bakery case. Trader Joe’s Peppermint Bark Baking Bits are just one example of some mint-infused baking supplies that I picked up during my holiday shopping. The bits are crushed up peppermint bark, which feature a layer of minty dark chocolate and a layer of “white truffle fudge” that has finely crushed peppermint candies mixed in to it.
Desipte the fact that it is called “white truffle fudge” on the packaging, the white chocolate layer appears to just be white chocolate – and that is a good thing. The white chocolate is creamy and contrasts with the mint well, although dark chocolate fans might wish that there was a little more dark chocolate. Nevertheless, it is some tasty stuff if you like chocolate and mint together (which I do). The mint flavor is strong, so it really stands out if you are eating these plain, but that also means that it is strong enough to come through in almost any recipe. They make an excellent Peppermint Bark Mocha, if you feel like stirring them into your coffee, too.
The bits range in size from very tiny to nearly the size of a dime. Most pieces were quite small, but you still get a wide variety of shapes and sizes and not the same kind of consistency that you would get from a bag of chocolate chips. This doesn’t matter if you’re eating them straight out of the bag (which I did), but it does lead to a less uniform appearance in, for instance, a batch of cookies. They’re easy to work with, however, and can be stirred in to cookies or brownies just like chocolate chips. The only problem is that I wanted to keep eating them straight out of the bag instead of just baking with them – but I guess that means that I should have bought more than one bag at a time.
I get a lot of candy canes during the holidays. I like to hang them on my Christmas tree and stir them into my coffee and hot chocolate to give some holiday flavor to my drinks. Candy canes can also be a surprisingly fun ingredient to bake with. They are a great way to infuse a little bit of holiday spirit into baked goods or to add a little color as a finishing touch when decorating. These recipes should give you a few good ideas for putting your own leftover candy canes to good use for the holidays.
- Peppermint Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite candy cane-kissed recipes. These tasty cookies are rolled in mixture of finely crushed peppermint, cinnamon and sugar before being baked. This gives them a great, swirling red and white look and just the right amount of peppermint in each bite.
- White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Blondies get both texture and flavor from crushed up candy canes. My blondies are actually made with peppermint bark – chocolate topped with crushed candy canes – so they have a little bit of chocolate and a little bit of peppermint, but regular chocolate chips and a handful of crushed peppermint make an easy substitute. Sliced almonds add even more crunch, since they tend to stay a little crispier after baking than candy cane bits do.
- This Candy Cane Angel Food Cake primarily uses candy canes for decoration. The angel food cake – peppermint if you want an all mint dessert, or simple vanilla – is covered all over in whipped cream and decorated with crushed peppermint. The finished effect is lovely, although the dessert really should be assembled shortly before serving to ensure that you get the best finished look.
- Peppermint and Cacao Nib Bark is my new favorite variation on a plain peppermint bark. The chocolate bark starts out with two layers of dark and white chocolate, and is topped generously with peppermint and cacao nibs before the chocolate has set. The result is an addictive candy with lots of chocolate flavor, just the right amount of mint and a good crunch from the cacao nibs.
- Finally, my Candy Cane Christmas Cupcakes are a candy cane inspired dessert, with brilliant red stripes swirling through a white cupcake batter. There is no crushed up peppermint in these cupcakes, though I typically add some peppermint extract to give them a minty flavor. Just like a real candy cane, they are very festive looking and a great way to dress up a dessert table – as well as being a tasty seasonal dessert to indulge in.
Peppermint bark is a type of chocolate bark where layers of white, dark and/or milk chocolate are topped off with a generous sprinkle of crushed peppermint candies. Many big chocolate brands, including Dove and Ghirardelli, release their own take on peppermint bark during the holidays, and even Haagen-Dazs has a limited edition peppermint bark ice cream flavor. But peppermint bark is easy to make at home if you have some chocolate and peppermint candies – or even candy canes – on hand and I always prefer it to store-bought.
My Peppermint and Cacao Nib Bark is topped with lots of crushed peppermint – like a traditional peppermint bark – and also with cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are small pieces of roasted, chopped cocoa beans and they add a nice additional chocolate flavor and quite a bit of crunch to the bark. The base of the bark is made with a layer of dark chocolate and a layer of white chocolate, as white chocolate always sets off peppermint well. Use a good quality chocolate that you like the flavor of (I used Callebaut) for the best results.
You can buy peppermint bits that are already crushed at many cake decorating stores, and those are a good and easy option for a recipe like this one. You can also make them, by crushing peppermints or candy canes yourself. If you do crush them yourself, sift them through a strainer to remove any of the peppermint dust and just keep the nice pieces.
I tempered the chocolate for my peppermint bark, which gives it a nice sheen and allows the chocolate to set up very quickly with no refrigeration required. Read my guide on How To Temper Chocolate at Home for tips and instructions. If you don’t want to temper your chocolate, you can still make the bark, but you may want to pop it in the refrigerator after you make it to help it set up. This bark is a great holiday treat and also makes a wonderful gift for friends and family. Feel free to double the recipe if you need a big batch, though it may be easier to simply make multiple batches if you really need a lot.
Oreo has been releasing limited edition holiday cookies for some time now, and this year’s Candy Cane Oreos are proving to be a very popular addition to the lineup. The cookies feature the standard chocolate wafers found on most Oreos, but have a peppermint filling that is red, white and speckled with slightly crunchy candy cane bits. The peppermint isn’t too strong and it is balanced very well by the not-too-sweet chocolate wafers. They’re quite good (and even better if you’re an Oreo fan) and I was inspired to use them to put a holiday cookies n’ cream twist into some baked goods.
This Candy Cane Oreo Pound Cake uses limited edition Candy Cane Oreos to infuse a little peppermint and a little chocolate into a vanilla pound cake. The pound cake itself is moist and buttery, with a very tight crumb and a tender texture. It has a nice vanilla flavor that sets off the peppermint in the cookies – which are very coarsely chopped and added to the cake batter – very well. The batter is thick enough to hold the cookie pieces without them sinking to the bottom of the cake, so each slice has a great look to it with some black, some white and some red.
The peppermint flavor in this cake is a nice addition because it is subtle. This isn’t a peppermint cake, but you get just enough peppermint here and there to make it a good fit for the holidays! If you do want to boost the mint factor, you can either add some of your own chopped peppermint candies or a little peppermint extract to the cake batter. I used Candy Cane Oreos, but there are other mint sandwich cookies available that work well, too, such as the Peppermint Jo Jo’s from Trader Joe’s.
You can bake this cake in a bundt pan or a tube pan. I think that a tube pan will give you slightly better results, since tube pans don’t have intricate designs that the cookies might get stuck to when you are trying to turn out the cake. If you do opt for a bundt pan, be sure to grease and flour it before using to prevent any part of the cake from sticking.
The bright red packaging of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips definitely caught my eye on the baking aisle last time I was stocking up at the store. The chips are a seasonal item, just around for the Christmas holiday season. They’re creamy faux white chocolate chips that have a festive read and white look and a minty peppermint flavor. I don’t usually go for faux white chocolate (by which I mean that these are made with vegetable oils, not cocoa butter), but these have a pleasantly smooth texture and a good mixture of cream and peppermint flavors.
They’re very easy to bake with, as you can throw them in to any recipe just like chocolate chips. Their festive red color means that they’re nice for decorating cupcakes and cookies, too. They maintained their flavor during baking – adding a hint of peppermint, not an overwhelming burst of it – and weren’t too sweet, which was nice. They’re not quite as good for snacking as plain white chocolate is, however, since they don’t have the ultra-smooth melt of a higher quality chocolate. Still, I definitely think these are fun for baking and give you a nice way to add a splash of color and a pop of peppermint to holiday treats.