If you have any last minute gifting needs this year, may I suggest making peppermint crunchies (the preferred name for cookies & cream peppermint bark in my house)? This treat calls for only three ingredients, can truly be considered last minute–it takes about 15 minutes to throw together and another 20 to 30 to cool–and is so over the top tasty. I made a batch for a work potluck last week, and six separate people asked me for the recipe. Another told me very seriously that I should look into selling it, and another stopped me later in the day to say, “you win–all of the bark is gone!” The effort to accolades ratio with these little bites is definitely in your favor, even at this extra busy time of year. Perfect for rounding out gifts that need a little something extra, having on hand for an unexpected present exchange, and for just pleasing yourself.
The recipe comes from Shutterbean, and I gave it a try last year to add another sweet to our Christmas party menu, and because Hal is crazy for Oreos. They were such a hit that I made them again that week, and have already thrown together two batches this holiday season. Along with being both ridiculously easy and tasty, making these has a slight therapeutic element–you have to smash the heck out of a pile of Oreos and candy canes, and I’ve found a lot of joy in whacking away at my ingredients with a mallet (Hal has a ludicrously large ice mallet, but I think a rolling pin would do nicely here, too). And that’s all there is to it: smash up some oreos and candy canes (Shutterbean recommends straining out the powder–someday, I’ll be organized enough to use that candy cane dust as a cake topping, or something), melt down white chocolate, stir in the oreos, spread your concrete-looking mixture on a baking sheet, and sprinkle candy cane bits on top. After 20-30 minutes in the freezer, break everything into bite size pieces.
One note about melting the chocolate. You can melt it in the microwave by zapping and stirring for several intervals, but I prefer to set up a double boiler and melt it on the stove. The first time I started melting this year, the chocolate “seized.” This was something I had read about but never experienced, and it really stumped me. If you haven’t seen seized chocolate before, it looks a slightly gritty solid dough. It also looks like you should just be able to keep it on the heat and it would melt again, but, nope. My culprit was checking the simmering water and allowing moisture to get into the chocolate. Lesson learned! I luckily had backup chocolate for a planned second batch and could just start again, but I’d recommend watching your melting chocolate closely (rather than trying to do three Christmas-y things at once, getting impatient, and obsessively checking the water, like I did…) to prevent any problems.
I stick to the original recipe, with two exceptions. First, I use regular Oreos rather than the spiffy candy cane Trader Joe’s version described, and I don’t think I’m missing anything. And second, most of the bags of white chocolate chips I’ve found are 11 ounces rather than 16, so I stick with that and decrease the number of candy canes and Oreos just a bit. Really, you can’t go wrong.