Today I decided that it was time to start working on some
new recipes for Christmas goodies & gifts, so this was my first experiment.
It’s based on an American treat called ‘bark’, supposedly because it looks like
tree bark, but I had the fanciful notion that this version looks a bit like
snow lying on dark winter soil, hence the new name. This is a perfect thing to
make for friends and family at Christmas, because it’s super easy, delicious
and it looks very pretty too! Look out for more Christmas goodies soon.
3 red & white candy canes
Although this is very easy, it needs a bit of time to
make, as the bottom layer must set before you put the second layer on. First of
all, line a square brownie tin with greaseproof paper (it might help to grease
it a little, so that the paper sticks). It’s important to do this now as during
the next stage you need to move quite quickly! Break the dark chocolate up into
a heatproof bowl, add the After 8s, and melt in the microwave, then take it out
and beat it hard with a wooden spoon to make sure there are no lumps. You’ll
find that it stiffens up really fast, since the minty stuff in the middle of
the After 8s will make it very sticky! Quickly scrape it out into the brownie
tin and spread it out with a knife – it will be very thick & will feel a
bit lumpy, so don’t worry about making it smooth, just try and get the whole of
the base of the tin covered. Immediately pop it into the fridge and leave for
at least half an hour.
Once the dark chocolate mixture has set rock hard, you
can prepare the top layer (leave the tin in the fridge until the last minute,
to keep it as cool as possible). First, break up the candy canes into small pieces
– I used my Cuisinart mini-processor for this job, but if you don’t have
anything similar, break them up by hand and then wrap in greaseproof paper and
bash with a rolling pin. Put the bits to one side for a moment.
Next, melt the white chocolate in the microwave. I didn’t
bother to temper it, as I think the slightly softer texture is nicer in this
case, but I took the bowl out of the microwave before all the chocolate was
melted and stirred it until the last few chunks disappeared, which is a sort of
cheat’s way of tempering a bit. Whip the brownie tin out of the fridge and pour
the white chocolate over the top, tipping the tin so that it covers the dark chocolate
layer all over. You shouldn’t need to spread the white chocolate at all because
it will be much runnier than the dark chocolate & mint mixture, and since
it’s pure melted chocolate, if you don’t stir it or spread it you’ll end up
with a much smoother, shinier finish. While the white chocolate is still wet,
sprinkle the candy cane pieces over the top, and then pop the whole thing back
in the fridge for at least an hour.
Finally, lift the snow out of the tin, still in its paper
wrapping, and break it into rough pieces (use the paper to hold it otherwise
you’ll get fingerprints on the finished product)! Pop into a clear cellophane
bag and tie with red ribbon for a pretty Christmas gift.