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

Ingredients:

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

Method:
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.

Peppermint bark6

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.

Fairground Rocky Road

Last Saturday night, we took the children to the 765th Ilkeston Charter Fair. It’s an annual tradition that we do every year. My parents used to take me when I was little and now I take my children.

Aside from the rides, thumping music and all the sounds and smells of the fair, we usually come back with an armful of fair goodies. This year was no different and one of our favourite things is honeycomb!

Rocky road single

Once they had munched half the bag, I decided to put the rest in a batch of rocky road. I’ve never actually made rocky road before, but Danielle at work is a big fan and I thought I would make a batch and save her a piece. When I say save a piece, what I mean is hide a piece before the boys got in there first!

There is no baking, it’s just a job of breaking up the biscuits and honeycomb, melting the chocolate and pressing into a lined tin. Everyone agreed that it was the best rocky road they had tasted, which is always a good sign!

Rocky Road stack

Prepare your dish or tin by lining with parchment. I used a lasagne dish measuring 30cm x 19.5cm

Ingredients:
Half a bag of honeycomb, chopped up Crunchy bars would also work
A 300g pack of milk chocolate biscuits (minus 2 or three that my son snaffled) I used McVities
A few handfuls of pink and white mini marshmallows
1 large squidge of golden syrup (approximately ½ cup)
300g good quality 70% dark chocolate
200g good quality milk chocolate
100g good quality white chocolate

Rocky Road closeup

Method:
In a large bowl, break up the honeycomb pieces, I used the end of a rolling pin to crack them into smaller sized rubble. I then broke up the biscuits using my hands. I didn’t bash them as I didn’t want it to be overly crumby! Finally, toss in the marshmallows.

For the chocolate, break up the milk and dark chocolate pieces and melt them in the microwave, or in a bowl over simmering water. I melt the chocolate until there are a few lumps left and then stir until the residual heat melts the rest.

Leave to cool for a minute or two before pouring over the rubble and mixing thoroughly.

Press into the prepared tin.

Melt the white chocolate and then drizzle over the rocky road and take a spoon to do a little marbling.

Leave in the fridge to chill before cutting into squares. This is very indulgent, so keep the squares fairly small!

Rocky Road1

This is a really good sweet treat to give in a cellophane bag as a gift or to take to a bake sale

Baby chocolate Oreo tea cakes with marbled chocolate cheesecake frosting

This recipe makes a lot (at least 18), so would be perfect for a bake sale or fund raising coffee morning.

Oreo cakes

I used the Master Class, non-stick, 12 hole mini sandwich tin for this recipe. It makes perfect cakes with straight sides and has loose bases, so every single cake comes out with no effort.  I got mine from Amazon here.

I once had a delicious cupcake at Starbucks that had a mini Oreo cookie on the top. The girl serving us was enthusing how pleased she was that they had started using the mini cookies, rather than half a normal sized one. I thought it was really nice and wanted to make my own version at home.

The cake recipe includes instant espresso powder which (as Ina says) brings out the chocolate flavour even more. The cakes by themselves are very moist, but the frosting is the star here.

I have seen many recipes online for oreo cupcakes with a lot of them using ground up oreos in the frosting. I’m not so keen on the little bits in the frosting, so decided that I would make a smooth icing with mine.

I then thought how good a cheesecake type frosting would be and because I couldn’t decide whether to do a white or a dark chocolate version, I decided to use both! I don’t have any duel colour piping bags, so just divided the frosting and put melted white chocolate in one half, melted dark chocolate in the other half and made delicious marbled chocolate cheesecake buttercream frosting.  These are very rich and indulgent, but very good with coffee for an occasional treat or for afternoon tea.

…unless you are my eldest son and can easily eat 3 or 4 before feeling a bit sick!

Oreo Cake

Cake ingredients:
400g plain/all-purpose flour
50g cocoa
2tbs instant espresso powder
350g golden caster sugar
2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
½tsp salt
3 extra-large eggs
175g unsalted butter at room temperature
1tbs vanilla extract
150ml sour cream
130ml vegetable oil
300ml whole/full fat milk

Method:
Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attached, whip the softened butter with the sugar until light and fluffy – around 5 minutes.

Beat the eggs with the oil and milk and with the mixer still running, add to the butter and sugar until fully incorporated.

Then with the mixer on low speed, add all the dry ingredients until just mixed in.

Using an ice cream scoop, distribute the cake batter into the waiting tin and bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Repeat with the rest of the cake batter until you have 18 cakes. Leave to cool completely.

Marbled Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
360g room temperature cream cheese
360g icing sugar – sieved
120g softened butter
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp instant espresso powder
100g packet of good quality white chocolate – broken into smaller pieces
100g packet of good quality 70% cocoa solids chocolate – broken into smaller pieces

Method:
Melt the dark chocolate with the espresso powder in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir, then microwave again for 10 seconds, stirring and repeating until almost melted. The residual heat will continue to melt as you stir. Leave to cool and repeat with the white chocolate.

Beat the cream cheese with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the butter and continue whipping. Add in the vanilla and then on low speed, the sieved icing sugar.

Halve the mixture and place one half in a separate bowl.

In the mixer, add the cooled white chocolate and beat until light and fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the dark chocolate.

For icing, you can either use a dual colour piping bag which is made for such a job, or, as I have done, you can just use a normal piping bag, fitted with a star nozzle, or even just with the end cut off. Fill one side with the white chocolate and the other with the dark chocolate and squish to remove any air pockets. It doesn’t have to be exact as you are going for a marbled effect.

Oreo cake closeup

Cut the cakes in half and pipe a little of the frosting on one half. Sandwich together with the other half and pipe more onto the top and adorn with a mini Oreo cookie.