12 Days of Christmas Countdown

peppermintIt’s Day No. 4 in Cathy’s 12 Days Before Christmas Countdown, and it’s time for the world’s easiest and most appreciated gift ever: Peppermint Bark. Or, as we call it in my family in honor of my brother Mark, who claims this as his favorite holiday candy ever — Mark’s Bark. Sure, you can buy it fancy and already made from gourmet stores like Williams-Sonoma. But I promise you can make it much easier than pie. Here’s what you do: Melt some chocolate — whatever you’ve got around the house is fine. Spread it out sort of thin on a wax- or parchment-paper lined pan. Crush up some christmas-and-new-years-2006-07-01818peppermint candy (very therapeutic this time of year if you put the candy in a securely closed plastic food bag and whack away with a rolling pin) and sprinkle the candy on the chocolate before it’s cool. When cool, break apart into cookie-sized pieces (again, very therapeutic). Stack and wrap for a festive gift or arrange on a plate for instant oohs and ahhs. You can get more complicated by layering white chocolate over the dark (a bit tricky because to make the layers stick you have to add the white-chocolate layer at just the right point in the cooling process) or by adding finely crushed peppermints or other flavorings to the chocolate. Need more help? For a video step-by-step tutorial , visit http://www.myrecipes.com/recipes/holidays/video/0,31570,1855603,00.html. Another good site for is http://www.instructables.com/id/Chocolate-Peppermint-Bark/. Check back for Day No. 3 in Cathy’s Christmas Countdown for the quickest and most festive decoration ever.

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