Dear Laura: I wonder if you could find a recipe for making Peppermint Bark. I have searched my cookbooks but haven’t been able to find anything. I’d also like to try making mints for Christmas. Again, I haven’t been able to find a recipe.
I’ve noticed some recipes use a product called candy coating, usually obtained at a supply house for candy making. I think this product is used for the bark candy. Is it available in supermarkets? Thank you for your help. - Emogene, Colfax, Wash.
Dear Emogene: Barks are the simplest of all candies to prepare. The generic name for the candy coating used for barks is compound coating. One brand I’ve found at local supermarkets is Gurley’s Almond Bark Candy Making. It comes in at least three flavors - vanilla, chocolate and butterscotch.
Here’s a generic bark recipe. Feel free to create your own flavor combinations. You may also wish to use the melted coatings to dip pretzels, dried fruits or cookies.
Mints come in many variations. Two possibilities follow.
1 pound (about 2-1/2 cups) compound coating
1-1/2 cups chopped nuts, crushed peppermint (or other) candies and/or rice cereal
Line a 10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan or large tray with waxed paper. Melt compound coating according to package directions. Stir in nuts, candies and/or cereal until evenly distributed. Spread about 1/4 inch thick on prepared tray. Refrigerate until hard. Cut or break into serving pieces.
Yield: About 2 pounds.
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound powdered sugar
Red and green food coloring
Measure corn syrup, butter, peppermint extract and salt into a large bowl; mix until well blended. Stir in powdered sugar; knead dough with hands until smooth. Divide dough into three pieces. Work with one piece at a time, covering remaining dough with plastic wrap to keep soft for easier working.
Add 3 or 4 drops green food coloring to one piece. Knead for 1 to 2 minutes until evenly tinted; shape into slightly flattened ball. Wrap well. Knead in 4 or 5 drops red food coloring to second; keep third one white.
With a rolling pin, flatten each portion between 2 sheets of waxed paper until 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top sheet of waxed paper. Using 1-1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles. Gently lift circles with a spatula and place on another sheet of waxed paper to dry overnight. If desired, press fork carefully on top of each to make design.
Knead scraps until smooth and pliable again, adding drops of water, if necessary. To store, place in tightly covered containers and refrigerate.
Yield: About 5 dozen mints (about 40 calories each).
Cream Cheese Mints
1 (8-ounce) package regular or reduced-fat cream cheese
2 pounds powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons mint extract
Few drops food coloring, optional
Granulated or colored sugars
Cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar together. Add flavoring and food coloring, if desired. Form into small balls; roll in granulated or colored sugar. Press into candy mold. Pop out of mold and store in tightly covered container, separating layers with waxed paper.
These mints freeze well for make-ahead convenience. Let stand in refrigerator 2 or 3 days before freezing.
2 ounces semisweet cooking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 of an 8-ounce milk chocolate candy bar, coarsely chopped
36 paper bonbon cups
1/3 cup butter or margarine
3 ounces semisweet cooking chocolate, coarsely chopped
Remaining half of the milk chocolate candy bar, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Melt the semisweet cooking chocolate with 1/2 of the chopped candy bar. Either melt in a microwave at medium-high (70 percent) power for 1 to 3 minutes, stirring at 1 minute and then after each 30 seconds; or in the top of a double boiler over hot but not boiling water, stirring occasionally, until melted, 5 to 8 minutes.
Loosen top bonbon cup from stack, but leave in stack for greater stability while being coated. With small paint brush, coat inside of top cup evenly with melted chocolate, about 1/8-inch thick, bringing coating almost to top of cup but not over edge. Remove cup to a tray and repeat until 36 cups are coated; refrigerate cups.
To prepare filling, melt butter in 1-quart saucepan; remove from heat. Add 3 ounces of chocolate and remaining 4 ounces of candy bar. Stir until melted and smooth; keep warm.
In small mixer bowl, beat eggs on medium speed, scraping bowl often, until foamy and lemon-colored. Increase speed to high and very gradually add warm chocolate mixture. Continue beating until mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise; stir in peppermint extract.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into chocolate cups. Cover and freeze for 5 hours or overnight. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days, or frozen for 2 weeks. Serve immediately from refrigerator or freezer. When ready to serve, peel off cups while candies are cold or frozen.
Yield: 3 dozen.
Dear Laura: I am writing for a chocolate popcorn ball recipe. In the early ‘60s, my stepmom used to make them. They were wonderful. Thanks for your help. - Donna, Spokane.
Dear Donna: You’ll need a candy thermometer to assure success with this recipe from Hershey Foods.
Chocolate Popcorn Balls
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional
2 quarts popped corn, unpopped kernels removed
Mix together the sugar, cocoa, corn syrup, vinegar and salt in a heavy saucepan. Add butter; cook slowly, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil; add evaporated milk slowly so boiling does not stop. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 265 degrees. Stir in nuts if desired.
Working quickly, mix chocolate syrup into 2 quarts freshly popped corn. Wet hands in cold water or rub lightly with butter. Dip out large spoonfuls and form mixture into balls.
Yield: 20 (4-inch) balls.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Laura Carnie The Spokesman-Review
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