Peppermint Bark Bars

After the Halloween butterscotch bark bars here, I just had to use my bark moulds again! This is a pretty simple recipe, but still really good and perfect for a festive treat.

Peppermint bark5

I’ve used crushed up peppermint candy canes for my bars, but peppermint boiled sweets would be just as good. I also picked up some little candy cane sprinkles (I love using themed sprinkles!) and have used a few of them here.

Peppermint bark

The bars are fairly substantial, so you could break them into two, or if not using moulds at all, the slab can be broken into shards.

Just one thing to note, you have to be fairly quick after adding the peppermint extract as the melted chocolate can seize.  Don’t be tempted to try and melt the chocolate and the peppermint extract together – no good will come of this!

Pepermint bark3

This recipe makes 6 large bars


200g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
400g white chocolate
1 ½tsp peppermint extract – I used Nielsen-massey Pure Peppermint Extract
Crushed candy canes, sprinkles or crushed peppermint sweets to decorate

Melt half of the white chocolate in the microwave. You can do this in a bowl over simmering water, but I have much more success melting in the microwave. I have had many a recipe ruined by chocolate that has seized up over simmering water – especially white chocolate.

Just stop heating the chocolate when there are still lumps and the residual heat will melt the remainder. Leave to cool a little before pouring into the moulds.

When you are ready to pour, stir ½tsp of peppermint extract and stir well to incorporate.

Divide the white chocolate equally and cover the base of each mould with a thin layer. Leave to cool, it will firm up quite quickly and you need it almost set before adding the milk and dark chocolate layer.

Peppermint bark4

Melt the dark and the milk chocolate together in the microwave in the same way as the white chocolate and leave to cool a little. The layers will not be defined if the chocolate is too warm and melts the base layer. As before, just before you are ready to pour, stir in ½tsp of the peppermint extract.

Divide the dark and milk chocolate combination between the moulds and leave to cool down.

When the middle layer is firm, but not hard, melt the remainder of the white chocolate, stirring in the final ½tsp of peppermint just before pouring.

When the bars all have their coating of white chocolate, sprinkle over the crushed candy canes and any other sprinkles you are using. Gently push them in to make sure they all stick into the chocolate.

Peppermint bark1

Leave to cool completely before turning out.

This can also be done in a square dish lined with oiled cling film or foil and broken into shards.

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These would make great homemade gifts or part of a homemade Christmas hamper. Just chop into bite sized shards and pop into a cellophane bag, tied with Christmas ribbon.

Smoky and Spicy Cheese Ball

Since I made my very first cheese ball here, it was so good, I have been needing an excuse to create new ones.


With the festive season upon us, a cheese ball is the perfect make-ahead addition to a any party or buffet table. Served with cruditiés or crackers, they are really good for feeding a crowd and delicious to eat.

This one is all about smoky and spicy flavours. Smoky cheese, smoked paprika, smoky and spicy chipotle chillies and the crust has chopped smoky almonds, smoked paprika and lots of crispy shards of smoky bacon goodness. Like my first cheese ball recipe, I haven’t used any extra salt in this at all.


8oz/226g room temperature cream cheese
8oz/226g room temperature Applewood smoked cheddar, grated
Small bunch of chives, very finely chopped
1-2tbs of chipotle chilli paste.
1 roasted red pepper, skinned and finely chopped. You can easily cheat and use one from a jar for this.
2tsp smoked paprika – sweet or spicy, the choice is yours
Freshly ground black pepper

1 pack of salted smoked almonds, very finely chopped
6 thin slices of smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp – then cool and finely chop
Freshly ground black pepper
2tsp smoked paprika
Crackers for serving

cheeseball slice

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the room temperature cheeses, peppers, paprika and chilli and mix on low speed until well mixed.  Add the chives and mix until just combined.

Place onto cling film and form into a ball. Refrigerate for at least two hours in order for it to firm up and be rolled in the crust ingredients.

On a plate, spread out the chopped almonds and bacon. Season the plate all over with freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle over the paprika so you have an even coating.

cheeseball slice2

Then just roll the cheese ball around in the crust ingredients, until fully coated. This is ready to serve immediately but will only get better if left to come up to room temperature. Otherwise you can refrigerate for up to 3 days.


This could easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using more of the other ingredients to coat the outside.

Christmas Spiced Mincemeat Friands

Friands are so easy to make, a Christmas themed recipe was inevitable!

Christmas Friands

These friands have the addition of ground mixed spice in both the cakes and the glaze for that unmistakable Christmas flavour.

As before, I use refrigerated Two Chicks egg whites from the supermarket. So much easier than separating egg whites and then finding something to do with all the yolks. I also used some homemade mincemeat that was given to me as a gift, but there are lots of really good jars of mincemeat in the supermarket at this time of year.

Christmas Friands2

I sometimes like to customise shop bought mincemeat with a little extra brandy, pistachios or cranberries, but as the children were going to eat this one, I kept it simple. This particular jar had slivered almonds which made it particularly good to eat.

6 large egg whites/250ml Two Chicks pasteurised egg whites
250g icing/powdered sugar, sieved with 2tsp ground mixed spice
130g ground almonds
100g plain flour, sieved
Zest of 1-2 satsumas or clementines
160g melted butter + extra for buttering the pan
1 jar of good quality mincemeat

Preheat the oven to 180°C and brush the friand tin with melted butter.

In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk the egg whites until frothy and then add the melted butter and zest.

Mix in the ground almonds and add the icing sugar and spice on low speed. Finally, fold in the flour until just combined.

Half fill a 12-hole friand pan with the mixture and add a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat to each one. Don’t be tempted to add too much, or it will bubble out due to the high sugar content.

Using the rest of the mixture, cover the mincemeat, dividing it equally between each one. The mincemeat will be encased inside.

Christmas Friands closeup2

Bake for around 30 minutes, or until they are cooked through. A toothpick inserted should come out clean.

Leave to rest for 15 minutes before gently turning out onto a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool completely before preparing the glaze.

Christmas Friand close up

1 cup of icing sugar, sieved with 1tsp of ground mixed spice
Juice of the two satsumas used for the cakes, plus the zest and juice of an extra one – enough to make a dropping consistency.

Simply mix together the sieved icing sugar, spice, zest and enough satsuma juice to make a dropping consistency – I used all 3 satsumas, but mine were very small ones.

Drizzle over a little of the spicy, zesty glaze and dust with a small amount of sieved icing sugar.

Christmas Friand inside

These are spicy, moist and delicious, with a juicy mincemeat filling – a really good alternative to the traditional mince pie. Serve with coffee for a festive treat.