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January 4, 2013

12th Night goodies for this year – white chocolate peppermint bark and sesame ginger brittle.

This is my first foray into the world of candy and I definitely learned a couple of things today.  No catastrophes, thank goodness, and the kitchen isn’t covered with rock-hard sugar, so it’s all good.

IMG_2061The peppermint bark was inspired by another Yahoo article on homemade gifts.  The original recipe called for the addition of peppermint oil, which I don’t have and didn’t want to buy.  I do have peppermint extract, but I really hesitated at adding that to the melted chocolate since white chocolate seizes really easily – found that out last year when I was trying to add some rum extract to melted white chocolate.  Instead, I followed the recipe from the Nestle website that recommended crushing the peppermint candies and then dumping the bits into the chocolate through a sieve.  The powdered candy gets mixed into the chocolate and then the larger chunks get sprinkled on top after the chocolate is spread into a wax paper-lined pan.  It’s also a good idea to sprinkle some of the candy chunks, tap the pan to spread the chocolate a little more, and then sprinkle more candy around the edges of the chocolate.

The other thing I learned in making the bark is that if you’re going to melt white chocolate chips, go with a good name-brand chocolate.  I had a mix of Nestle white chips and a local store brand, and the Nestle chips definitely melted much more quickly and smoothly than the store brand chips.

IMG_2062For those that are not chocolate fans, I also made a batch of sesame ginger brittle from Martha Stewart.  I was intrigued by this recipe when I first found it, since it’s something a little different.  Martha’s brittle came out looking a lot more even than mine, but I don’t think the flavor suffers for it!  This recipe was the first real candy-making that I’ve ever done and I have a nice new candy/deep fry thermometer to use because of it.  Boiling the sugar/corn syrup mixture took a lot longer than I thought it would to reach temperature, and the whole mix set up really fast when I added the ginger and sesame seeds but I was able to spread it out with the back of a wooden spoon coated with non-stick spray.

Both of these spent some time on our enclosed front porch to take advantage of the cold temperatures to cool and set up.  Broken into bits, they’ve now been bagged and are ready to be passed out throughout the day tomorrow!

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