48/52: Phew! I survived fall semester! {And Peppermint Bark}

Oh my goodness. I haven’t posted since… November?! I have been on somewhat of a hiatus, but for good reason. Life has been absolutely, undeniably nuts! Between lesson planning, interning/teaching, classes and finals… throw some life in there… mix well… needless to say I haven’t had much time to post. I really haven’t had a ton of time to cook or bake either. But, not to worry I will be finished my last final today and then I have lots of goodies planned.

I can’t even remember the last time I baked, it was probably for Thanksgiving! Well, even though I had a final due today {yay! I’m free!} I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to get into the kitchen last night. So I whipped up some… peppermint bark of course! It is such a simple recipe, but so yummy and screams Christmas! I just love the crushed candy cane on top.

It is so easy I honestly feel silly posting a recipe for this, but sometimes it is nice to have something to go off of. My peppermint bark became somewhat of an experiment because all I had in the cupboard was unsweetened chocolate, and I only had 4 oz. while most recipes call for at least 6 oz. So when melting my unsweetened chocolate on the double boiler, I added 1 TB of sugar for each ounce of chocolate. And 4 oz made plenty of bark when put into a 9X9 pan!

I plan on sharing this with people who are coming over for Christmas now that I’ve made my first batch. But this would be very cute wrapped up in goodie bags and given away as gifts. See my Halloween bark post for ideas!

Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped {you can use unsweetened – add 1 TB of sugar for each oz of chocolate you are using}
4oz. white chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil {adds shine to bark}
crushed candy cane {I used about 4 crushed candy canes to top a 9X9 pan}

Directions:
1. Line a 9X9 pan with foil, make sure you have a bit of overhang so you can pull the foil and bark out of the pan later. Set aside.
2.  Melt chocolate and vegetable oil in a heat proof bowl of a pot of simmering water {or in a double boiler}, continue melting until it is fully melted and appears thin. If you are using unsweetened chocolate make sure the sugar gets a chance to melt into the chocolate before removing from heat.
2. Pour chocolate into the foil lined pan, rotate pan to spread chocolate into each corner of pan. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, crush your candy cane. The size is a matter of preference, some prefer large pieces, some small.
4. Melt your white chocolate using the same method as the chocolate.
5. Pour on top of chilled chocolate, rotate pan to spread white chocolate over every inch of chocolate.
6. Sprinkle crushed candy cane over top of the bark.
7. Refrigerate over night if possible.
8. Once fully chilled, pull foil out of pan and break bark into pieces of desired size.
9. ENJOY!

I hope everyone is set to have an awesome weekend. I am seriously looking forward to catchin up on a few things so when Christmas break hits {the elementary school I intern at still has 2 more school days until they are on break — gee, thanks strike!} I can dive into Christmas, and then afterward… lesson planning! Full time student teaching hits in February and I want to get ahead of the game as much as possible. For now, off to make up my Christmas cookie baking list. Can’t wait to share some pictures with you!

Ciao!

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Halloween Candy Bark

Tra-la-la… I can’t even begin to express how excited I am that we are just reaching Halloween, and making the turn toward Thanksgiving and Christmas! I like Halloween okay, but love the rest of the holidays. I generally don’t get too into “Halloween” baking, but this month have way too many ideas in my head. With the craziness of school and my internship, I hardly have time for the weeknight baking I used to do so I am always looking for quickie recipes. This is definitely one of those!

I am sure most people who live in large trick-or-treating communities purchase large quantities of candy, and generally have some left over. Are you looking for a way to use leftover trick-or-treat/Halloween candy? Well, look no further! I have had my eye on this recipe all year but haven’t been able to convince myself it was necessary to make until now. And to my surprise, this recipe is so yummy – not overly sweet as you would assume, but most of all – simple. Now that I know how simple it is to make candy bark I am going to try different combinations. I think this would be really yummy with candy corn added as well!

The recipe makes quite a bit – so we decided to share some with our friends. It makes a super cute gift, just wrap up in treat bags, tie with cute ribbon and keep refrigerated until gifting time!

Cute, right?

Halloween Candy Bark

Ingredients:
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun size bars), roughly chopped
3 toffee candy bars (or 6 fun size bars), roughly chopped
8 Reese cups, cut into wedges
¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
3 oz. yellow and orange peanut M&Ms, coarsely chopped
3 oz. good quality white chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Pour the chocolate over the foil and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula.

2. Evenly sprinkle the chopped candy bars, Reese cups, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut M&Ms over the melted chocolate.  Press gently to adhere the candy to the melted chocolate.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Melt the white chocolate, again using the double boiler method, until smooth. Drizzle over the chilled candy bark.  Return to the refrigerator and let chill again until the white chocolate is set, 3o minutes more.

4. Peel the sheet of chocolate away from the foil and break into irregular pieces.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Source & Recipe: Annies-Eats, originally from Bon Appetite, October 2010

Enjoy! And, I hope all you little Halloweenies have fun tomorrow! And please pray that my first graders aren’t too crazy in the morning…ahh, wish me luck.

35/52: Blackberry Pie Bars

What a beautiful weekend we just had, right? I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend, I know that we sure did. I mean, how could you not enjoy your weekend when you get to wake up to a view/sunrise like this nearly every morning? We have certainly been blessed with some gorgeous weather lately. {Minus the dreary skies yesterday for most of the day}.

I’m not complaining! 😉

Like I said, we had a good weekend! We spent time at our favorite place {The Parkway} on Friday, with some of our favorite people, drinking some good brews.

On Saturday we spent an hour or so at the IPA Fest and then headed out to a friend’s house… for more good times and good people! There is something so relaxing about summer dinners with friends. It was so nice to relax in the back yard, eat dinner and just talk. I even learned to play bocce ball! However, I am fairly certain that my husband carried our team. I think it is safe to say that I do not have a future in bocce ball. 😉 Haha.

For dinner, it was suggested that if I felt up to baking that dessert would be welcomed… so of course I didn’t hesitate and immediately started looking up different recipe options. Unlike some bloggers who are in other areas of the United States who are ready to start baking fall recipes, summer is just now kicking off here  in the Northwest. So, I wanted to find something refreshing and summery. I always jump to the idea of cupcakes, but my friends aren’t big fans of cake so that was out. And, it was probably a good thing… I always seem to first think of baking cupcakes. I think they’ve become a ‘comfort zone’ for me. After much searching I found something that seemed super yummy… and screamed summer… blackberry pie bars! Can you say yum?! Once I saw the picture I was sold. And the best part? These babies were so easy to make. They turned out looking great and I think the review was unanimous… yummy! You know it’s always a good thing when people go back for seconds on dessert. That is what I love so much about food. Seeing people enjoy food that I have put my hard work and love into… there is nothing better to me then smiling faces!

Mmmmm.. Yeah… served up with a nice little scoop of vanilla ice cream {or rice cream!}. I also think this recipe would be a great base for any type of berry: raspberry, blueberry, etc. It was a perfect combination of pie and cobbler.

Oh yeah. I could almost lick the knife clean. Isn’t there something magical about berries baked up in a pie or cobbler? Or is it just me? 😀

I know summer is almost over for most of the U.S. but for us here in the PNW, it’s really just starting. So be sure to snag this recipe and give it a try before our summer is really over! This is so easy… the hardest part is waiting for it to bake. 😉

Blackberry Pie Bars

Ingredients:

Crust and topping:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, chilled

Fruit filling:
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup flour
pinch salt
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 lbs fresh blackberries or 2 (16 oz) packages frozen blackberries, thawed and drained

Directions:

To make the crust and topping, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and add to the flour mixture. Process until the butter is evenly distributed but the mixture is still crumbly, 30-60 seconds.

Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to use as the topping. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan, and bake 12-15 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes.

To make the filling, whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then add the sour cream and whisk until smooth. Add the sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined. Gently fold in the berries and spoon the mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the filling, and bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until bubbly {My oven required much more time, I added about 12 minutes onto the bake time, and simply covered the edges with foil so they did not get over brown}.

Cool at least 1 hour before cutting into bars, or scoop out of the pan to serve cobbler-style.

Source & Recipe: Slightly adapted from Pink Parsley and originally from, The Pastry Queen.