This is our favorite PeppermintBark recipe, complete with three types of chocolate and crushed peppermint — do holiday treats get any better than this?!
Our Favorite Peppermint Bark Recipe
In our home, Christmas celebrations can’t begin without a batch of Peppermint Bark — it’s our favorite holiday treat!
Growing up, December was a time to bake nonstop with Mom (these Carmelitas or 7 Layer Bars were the favorites), but we’d typically skip the candy making and grab a bag of Ghirardelli® peppermint bark.
After the last few years of getting my kiddos involved with candy making (they like this Buttercrunch Candy best while Toffee is my favorite), I decided it was time to skip the packaged peppermint bark and make our own!
Once you make your own, you can mix and match all sorts of chocolate, make it as pepperminty (or not) as you’d like, and break the pieces as big (or little). It’s true — nothing ever compares to homemade! 🙂
Why Do They Call It Peppermint Bark?
“Bark” typically refers to a layer of chocolate or hard candy with various things (candy, nuts, etc.) embedded in it. The result is a vague resemblance of a rough tree bark which is where the name is thought to have originated from.
So what is Peppermint Bark? A holiday chocolate confection that typically consists of a base layer of dark chocolate with white chocolate on top. Peppermint candy pieces are embedded on top.
Peppermint Bark Recipe Ingredients
When making this candy, the quality of the ingredients makes all the difference. To be successful in making the best Peppermint Bark that doesn’t separate, streak, discolor, or become crumbly, you’ll want to use high-quality baking bars. For this recipe we use:
- 2 white chocolate baking bars
- 1 semi-sweet baking bar
- 1 milk chocolate baking bar (or use 1 dark chocolate baking bar)
- Vegetable or coconut oil
- 3 candy canes
How To Crush Peppermint
Before starting on the bark, crush the peppermint so it’s ready to go!
Both candy canes and hard peppermint candies work. For peppermint bark, we want coarse, not fine crumbs/powder. The best way we’ve found to do this is to add the unwrapped candies to a large plastic bag (or two; the peppermint has a tendency to rip through plastic bags as it is crushed), seal the bag without air in it, and then crush with a rolling pin or meat mallet until coarse crumbs are formed. Using a blender or food processor can leave you with candy dust, and that’s not what we’re after.
How To Make Peppermint Bark
The full recipe card is below, but here are my top tips. With these tips and good ingredients, the foray into candy making should be seamless.
- The “secret” to managing the temperature of the chocolate: Once most of the chocolate in the bowl is melted, add in some unmelted chocolate bits. The heat from the melted chocolate will then melt this added chocolate while also lowering the heat of the chocolate all together. Why is this important? It keeps the chocolate is stable and gives it a smooth, glossy finish. This also keeps the bark from melting on your fingers and helps set it up beautifully! (For more info, check out the “quick tip” below.)
- Microwave the chopped chocolate in sturdy, heat–safebowls instead of using plastic or melamine.
- To avoid scorching the chocolate, microwave for 15 seconds at a time, and stir for at least 15 seconds between each microwave burst. Remember, the chocolate is still melting from residual heat even after it has been removed from the microwave. When making homemade Peppermint Bark, it’s important the chocolate never gets too hot!
Melting the chocolate slowly while stirring often promotes the formation of the most desirable type of sugar crystals. It ensures that the chocolate cools and hardens before the cocoa butter (the natural white fat) can rise to the surface and make the bark look streaky. Adding unmelted chocolate to the bowl near the end of mixing not only cools down the overall chocolate temperature but “seeds the batch” which encourages the chocolate to set with the right crystals. This makes it smooth and hard at room temperature.
Why can’t I use chocolate chips? Chocolate chips/baking morsels have stabilizers that keep them from melting completely smooth (which is good when you want them to retain their shapes for cookies!). Furthermore, chocolate chips or “chocolate flavored” chocolates typically contain palm kernel oil which will inhibit the bonding of the layers. Without this bonding, the two layers will separate when you break or cut the bark.
Why can’t I refrigerate the bark as I make it? You may be tempted to put the pan in the fridge in between layers or after it’s finished, but this will change the chocolate temperature too rapidly and may result in a streaky appearance.
How do you keep layered Peppermint Bark from separating? There are multiple causes of separation:
- The chocolate could be the culprit. Palm kernel oil is often added to chocolate chips/morsels and can keep the two layers from bonding.
- The first layer has set too much when adding the second layer. As soon as you finish the first layer, start on the second!
- Not letting the finished bark set for long enough after being made (the longer it sets, the less likely the layers are to separate).
- The bark isn’t at room temperature before breaking (if it’s too cold it’s more likely to separate).
- The bark has been chilled or refrigerated.
How do you cleanly cut Peppermint Bark? If you’d prefer to cut this white peppermint bark recipe instead of breaking it, you’ll want to use a large and very sharp knife. Run the knife under very hot water, dry it off with a kitchen towel, and then make one quick and decisive cut. Repeat this process for each cut you make.
Peppermint Bark FAQs
1Where can you buy Peppermint Bark?
If you’d rather save this recipe to try next year and purchase peppermint bark this year, it is available seasonally at most grocery stores. Look in the seasonal or candy aisles. Alternatively it can be purchased online as well (check Williams Sonoma or Amazon!).
2What can I do with crushed peppermint?
3What does Peppermint Bark taste like?
If you love semi-sweet/dark/milk chocolate, white chocolate, and peppermint, you will love this candy! Tasters describe it as sweet, crispy, chocolatey, minty, and even a little creamy!
4Does Peppermint Bark spoil?
Yes, it does not have an indefinite shelf life.
Peppermint bark is best consumed within 10 days or up to 2 weeks if properly stored. Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place at room temperature.
5Does homemade Peppermint Bark need to be refrigerated?
It doesn’t, but it can extend the shelf life. While we don’t recommend refrigerating the bark at all during the making and hardening process, it can be refrigerated once completely firm.
6Do I need to use peppermint extract?
If you want a very subtle peppermint flavor, the crushed peppermint on top will be okay.
To get the strong classic peppermint flavor, you do want the peppermint extract. Make sure to use peppermint extract, not mint extract. The actual strength of the peppermint extract will also depend on the brand (some are more potent than others), so be sure to taste and adjust to personal preference, adding more for a stronger peppermint flavor. I use McCormick’s® peppermint extract in this recipe.
Homemade Peppermint Bark Storage
Chocolate Peppermint Bark, when properly stored, is best eaten within two weeks Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place at room temperature. It does not need to be refrigerated.
More Christmas Treats
- Christmas Snack Mixwith red and green M&M’s
- Christmas Oreo Popsdecorated as a penguin, snowflake, reindeer, and a candy cane
- 3 Ingredient Christmas Cookies
- 6 Easy Christmas Giftswith free printables
- Santa Cookieswith red and green M&M’s
Peppermint Bark Recipe
Peppermint Bark Recipe
CRUSHPEPPERMINT: Add the unwrapped candy canes to a large plastic bag (or two; the peppermint has a tendency to rip through plastic bags as it is crushed). Seal the bag without air in it, and then crush with a rolling pin or meat mallet until coarse crumbs are formed. Set aside.
PREP: Line an 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving some as an overhang for easy removal. Set aside for now. Coarsely chop the white, semi-sweet, and milk chocolate.
Top tip for snappy and beautiful bark: Be patient when melting the chocolate and avoid rapid temperature changes (don’t microwave too long or excessively, stir too much, and don’t refrigerate/freeze layers or finished bark).
CHOCOLATE BASE LAYER: Add all EXCEPT 2 tablespoons (See Note 2) of the chopped semi-sweet and milk chocolate to a large microwave-safe bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon oil. Microwave for 15 seconds and then stir vigorously for 15 seconds. Continue to do this until the chocolate is mostly melted. The key to not scorching and ruining the chocolate/bark is to melt in very short bursts and to stir a lot (so much melting happens outside of the microwave) We never want the chocolate to get hot, just warm enough to melt gradually; once it’s smoothly melted, it should be room temperature. Once the chocolate is mostly melted, add the set-aside 2 tablespoons of chocolate and stir until it melts. Be patient and resist the urge to microwave unless it isn’t melting after stirring for 1 minute. (Then you can microwave in bursts of 5 seconds at a time.) Once the chocolate is fully melted and smooth, pour in the 1/4 teaspoon (use 1/2 tsp for a stronger peppermint flavor) peppermint extract and mix to combine. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan and smooth in an even layer with an offset spatula or regular spatula. Do not refrigerate. Set aside at room temperature for now.
WHITE CHOCOLATE TOP LAYER: Add all EXCEPT 2 tablespoons of the chopped white chocolate to a large microwave- safe bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon oil. Follow the directions above for melting. Add in the reserved 2 tablespoons white chocolate and mix until melted. Once smooth, drizzle evenly on top of the chocolate base layer until all the chocolate is poured on top. Carefully and slowly smooth the white chocolate into an even layer with the back of a spoon being careful to not swirl the two layers together. Immediately, sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top (add as much or as little as you’d like). Set aside at room temperature (not in the fridge) until the bark is completely hardened, about 3-5 hours. Don’t refrigerate the bark — we’re trying to keep the chocolate at a consistent temperature to ensure glossy, snappy bark!
BREAK APART: Once hardened, remove from the pan using the overhang. Break or cut (See Note 3) into pieces as big or small as you’d like. Enjoy!
STORAGE: When properly stored, this bark is best consumed within 2 weeks Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place at room temperature. It does not need to be refrigerated.
Note 2: Why we pull out some of the chocolate first: Melting the chocolate slowly while stirring often ensures that the chocolate cools and hardens before the cocoa butter (the natural white fat) can rise to the surface and make the bark look streaky. Adding unmelted chocolate to the bowl near the end of mixing not only cools down the overall chocolate temperature, but «seeds the batch» which encourages the chocolate to set with the right crystals which makes it smooth and hard at room temperature. Heating and cooling chocolate to stabilize it for making this candy gives the chocolate a smooth, glossy finish, ensures it won’t melt easily on fingers, and allows it set up nicely.
Note 3: Cutting bark: If you’d prefer to cut the bark instead of break it, you’ll want to use a large and very sharp knife. Run the knife under very hot water, dry it off with a kitchen towel, and then make one quick and decisive cut. Repeat this process for each cut you make.
We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.