Peppermint Bark

This is good stuff. It’s so easy to make (it’s really just melting, pouring and spreading), but very impressive to look at; if you can actually bring yourself to give any away, your recipients will be sufficiently wowed. Plus now that Christmas is over, I’m guessing that you probably have candy canes lying around (at least the ones hanging on the tree above child-finger height), so why not make some of this divine double-chocolate peppermint bark?

Truth be told, I’m not much of a white chocolate person, seeing as how it’s not actually really chocolate, but it works in this iteration. Next time I make this, though, I think I’m going to reverse the layers, so there are two layers of dark chocolate and one middle layer of white. That’s more my speed. Either way you do it, you’ll end up with chocolatey, creamy, crunchy, minty deliciousness. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Oh, and if you still have left over candy canes, try these. One of my all-time favorites.

We had a lovely Christmas at home and will be doing more of the same for New Year’s with a few friends coming over to ring in 2012. I’m starting to mull over my resolutions for the new year…I like to ruminate over the course of the days leading up to January 1st and try to come up with things I’ll really attempt to do and are also actually worth the effort to attempt to accomplish. I may even write some down this year.

What about you? Any particular resolving going on in your house — besides making this peppermint bark, of course?

Here’s to the end of a wonderful year and the beginning of another new and exciting one. The happiest of happy new years to you and yours. Cheers!

Peppermint Bark

17 oz. white chocolate, such as Callebaut, finely chopped (make sure cocoa butter is listed in the ingredients)
2-3 candy canes or 20-25 peppermint candies, coarsely crushed
7 ounces dark chocolate (I used 70%), finely chopped
6 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Flip a large sheet pan upside down and cover with aluminum foil. Measure out and mark a 9- by 12-inch rectangle on the foil (I used a mechanical pencil keeping the lead inside).

Put the white chocolate in a metal (or other heatproof) bowl, and set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water (don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.) Melt the chocolate until smooth, stirring occasionally. Remove  from the heat and pour 2/3 cup of the melted chocolate onto the marked rectangle on the foil. Using an icing spatula, spread the chocolate to fill the rectangle. Sprinkle with 1/8-1/4 cup of the crushed peppermints (a little goes a long way, so I used more like 1/8 cup). Chill until set, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the dark chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract in a heavy medium saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is just melted and smooth. Cool for about 5 minutes.

Get your cooled baking sheet from the fridge and pour the dark chocolate over the white chocolate, spreading the chocolate to completely cover the white rectangle (make sure your spatula is clean unless you want the marbled look!). Chill until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.

Rewarm the remaining white chocolate, then pour that over the dark chocolate and spread  to cover completely. Sprinkle more peppermint candy over the top and chill again till firm, about 20 minutes more.

Carefully lift the foil from the baking sheet onto a large cutting board. Trim the uneven edges and eat immediately. Cut the bark crosswise into 2″ strips. Using metal spatula, slip the bark off of the foil and onto the cutting board.  Cut each strip crosswise into 4 sections, and then cut each section diagonally into 2 triangles. Or just cut it however you like.

Put in an airtight container with sheets of wax paper between the layers o prevent them from sticking to each other. Store in the refrigerator (preferably in the back where your husband won’t find it).


Merry Christmas!

It’s been awhile. I guess I’m not the supreme multi-tasker that I thought I was. I have a newfound respect for those full-time working mother bloggers who keep it up on a daily basis. It’s really hard to do that.

Nevertheless, I will carry on with my sporadic posting as that’s about all I can handle right now. Hopefully, I haven’t lost you, my faithful (and for the most part, completely silent) readers. All seven of you. :)

And now, it’s Christmastime in the city (sing it with me!) and man, do I love it. The city is lit up and bustling, the holiday cheer is spreading and most importantly, I’m on vacation! OK, only two days, but I’ll take ’em. I get to read, watch this, pick up some last-minute gifts and most importantly, hang with my little man and do some cooking!

We had a little holiday open house last weekend, which was super-fun, but I was a total slacker in the cooking department — thankfully, my mom (and others) came to the rescue with three different kinds of Christmas cookies, including these and a few others which I suppose I now need to post about…especially her pecan balls, which went so fast that I never even got to try one. Humph. I did manage to make an amazing peppermint bark*, which I promptly forgot to serve. Oops. Our last few stragglers were the lucky recipients of little packets of that delicious treat.

We got our beautiful tree a few weeks back and had a great time decorating it with the G-man hanging everything at the same height and my mom directing the placement of the lights with the precision of MacArthur and the cinematic eye of Cecil B. de Mille. It smells great and nothing makes me happier than to come home and see it all lit up, waiting expectantly for all the presents to be nestled underneath (and for me to wrap said mountain of presents currently lurking in the closet).

What are you doing for the holidays…visiting family? Staying home? Snuggling up by a roaring fire? Or (like my amigos down in BsAs) going for a swim? Whatever you do or however you celebrate the season, hold your loved ones tight and be happy. Merry Merry everyone.

* Coming in the next post, which I promise won’t be a month from now…

Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookies

This is a cookie that I’ve been meaning to make forever and a day. Before we moved to Buenos Aires, we lived in the East Village and before it got all cool and fancy, Momofuku Ssäm Bar was our go-to take spot for Korean burritos. You see, it actually was a Ssäm Bar, as in a place where you could just wander in and order a Korean version of a burrito, but like, a ridiculous one with marinated tofu or Berkshire pork, edamame, kimchi…insanely good. And then, poof! It became the hottest restaurant in town and buh-bye burritos.

But I tried not to hold a grudge because next door to Ssäm Bar was Milk Bar, where take-out of the dessert variety was (and is) still in full swing. Crazy soft-serve ice cream with flavors like cereal milk and olive oil, crack pie (use your imagination) and the infamous star of this post.

The compost cookie is, as the name suggests, a cookie with all kinds of crazy stuff in it (in fact, the original has coffee grounds). What’s great is that it’s up to you to decide what goes in. But let me give you a tip: you need something salty. It can be potato chips, it can be pretzels (both are divine), but you need that saltiness to counterbalance the sweetness of the cookie itself and the other required stuff, like namely, chocolate. It is kind of a revelation as cookies go. It’s chewy, it’s crunchy, it’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s all things that are good and right in this world.

And it’s always nice to have a helper bring along his tools for smashing stuff up.

But I still have yet to make my dream version. I really must do one with the dark chocolate-covered pretzels from Trader Joe’s. Maybe throw in some corn flakes and, of course, bitter chocolate chunks. Am I nutty for thinking about dark chocolate-covered espresso beans? Oh, I’m onto something. This is fun. What would you add?

Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookies

recipe by Christina Tosi

1 cup/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chips
1 1/2 cups savory/salty snacks, crushed (chips, pretzels, chocolate-covered pretzels, corn flakes)

Cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for two to three minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Mix in eggs and vanilla. This part is important. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 10 minutes. Yeah, it’s a long time. But it helps the sugar to dissolve and it makes the mixture super-light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated.

Stir in chocolate chips, then add the snacks. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop portions onto a Silpat- or parchment-lined cookie sheet, Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a week (as if). Preheat the oven to 400ºF/204ºC shortly before the hour is up. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes. They’re done when the edges are brown and the top is just starting to brown.

Roger, where have you been?

Yes, that’s a meaningless reference to most people (ok, almost all people), but suffice to say, I’m acknowledging my mysterious disappearance from these here parts. But, I have a really good excuse! I got a J.O.B. people. Yes, real-live, paying employment with a desk and a phone and paper clips. It’s very exciting, but it’s also made my life rather hectic.

Between finding a couple babysitters for those post-preschool/pre-end of workday hours to attempting to fit all the household/life things that I did before I was out of the house for 9 hours a day to you know, actually using my brain, I’ve been a little busy. Sorry. Really, I am. Plus, I *had* to read the most amazing book for book club (and I’ll tell you one thing I don’t like about Kindles. You don’t realize the book you think you’re breezing through is 784 freaking pages until you’ve been reading for days and days and are still only 33% of the way through said book.). Don’t sweat the 784 pages. Now you know it’s long. Doesn’t matter. Just go read this book. It’s heartbreaking, beautifully written, inspiring and poignant beyond belief.

I’m digressing. Sorry. It’s been a couple weeks; I’m out of blogging practice.

Now that I’ve got a week and half of this “career” thing under my belt, I forsee a return to a semi-normal posting schedule (okay, maybe a little less). But I’m here. Still cooking stuff. Just doing it after we’ve eaten dinner, trying to keep ahead of the next dinner. And the next. And…yeah, you get the idea.

Compost cookie recipe coming later this week! Promise.

Happy Halloween!

Once you have a kid, Halloween goes on for like a week. There are school parties, mommy group parties, and that’s just the warm-up for actual Halloween night. It’s amazing I haven’t overdose on Kit Kats by now (is that even possible?). This year was fun because we had several costume options, so it became just one big dress-up party weekend.

G loves his fireman costume (and I, for one, am partial to fireman), so he sported that this weekend, while I busted out my infamous Princess Leia costume (which my husband is rather partial to himself — aren’t all guys harboring a Princess Leia crush?). The last time I wore that costume, we did not have a child and went to a party where there was no food, but plenty of grain alcohol “blood” shots. Needless to say, it was a far cry from our mommy group’s party where toddlers were tossing back shots of chocolate milk and OJ. The high point was when several children came up to “Princess Leia” to express their admiration for my work destroying the Death Star. Not bad. NOTE: I went looking for photos that my husband claimed to have taken, but they’re nowhere to be found. Hmmm. Probably for the best.

Stand back, Pooh.

We then mixed it up with a Spidey costume for school, then back to the fireman costume for the actual trick-or-treating. I was a cat, which involved putting the (very itchy) head of a child’s lion costume on (I have a small head) and going crazy with the eyeliner for 2 minutes. Yes, readers, New Yorkers do trick-or-treat. Our neighborhood association organizes a huge multi-building thing, but we usually just trick or treat in our building. It’s actually really fun, and I think G enjoyed giving out the candy almost as much as he did getting it.

What were you for Halloween? What’s your favorite treat? Trick? This was last year’s trick. Not good.