Candyland Peppermint Bark
- 1/2 cup coconut butter or Homemade Coconut Butter (Cacao butter might work, but I haven’t tried it.)
- 12 or more drops pure peppermint extract
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp agave (or to taste), or stevia drops to taste (I actually like it unsweetened, so you can try that too!)
- optional: sprinkles, crushed candy canes, other garnishes
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. (Make sure to melt your coconut butter first if it’s hard. I like to stick the jar in a warm—not hot—oven for just a few minutes.) Spread the mixture onto wax paper, then put it in the fridge or freezer to harden. After just a few minutes in the freezer, it’s become delicious bark!
Chocolate version: Replace coconut with Hot Chocolate Butter.
(Side note: 12 drops is a scant 1/4 tsp.)
Inspired by the (now) old-school, ultra-rich, mousselike chocolate cake that usually called for a whole pound of chocolate, half a dozen eggs and lots of butter, here is an enlightened rendition with deep bittersweet chocolate flavor and that dense melt-in-your-mouth texture so characteristic of the genre. No one will guess it’s healthier. The secret is excellent natural cocoa powder and good-quality bittersweet chocolate, preferably with 70% cacao. Although the cake can be eaten once it’s completely cool, it comes out of the pan much easier and even tastes better if it has been chilled at least overnight.
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours (including 2 hours cooling time), plus overnight chilling
- 7 ounces 60-70% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably natural (see Note)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup nonfat or low-fat milk
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature (see Tip)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
CANDIED ORANGE PEEL (OPTIONAL)
- 2-3 oranges
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan (1 1/2 to 2 inches deep) with parchment paper and coat the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Put a kettle of water on to boil for Step 6.
- Place chocolate and cocoa powder in a large bowl.
- Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar and salt in a small heavy saucepan. Whisk in just enough of the milk to form a smooth paste. Mix in the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent burning (especially around the sides and bottom edges of the pot), until the mixture begins to bubble. Boil gently, stirring constantly, for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (the mixture will get very thick and then you may notice that it thins ever so slightly as the starch cooks). Scrape the hot mixture immediately over the chocolate and cocoa. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. The batter will be very thick. Stir in egg yolks and vanilla.
- Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating on high speed until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
- Gently fold about one-fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Scrape the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top.
- Set the cake pan in a larger baking pan and place on the oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the baking pan to come a third to halfway up the side of the cake pan. Bake until the surface of the cake is slightly crusted and springs back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. (The cake will still be quite gooey inside.)
- Meanwhile, to prepare candied orange peel (if using): Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from oranges in 1 1/2- to 2-inch-long pieces. Cut the pieces into very thin strips, about 1/8 inch wide. Cook in a small saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain. Bring more water to a boil and cook the orange peel for another 5 minutes. Drain.
- Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange peel, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer the syrup and peel to a bowl. Cover and chill overnight.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the orange peel to paper towels to drain before using.
- Remove the pans from the oven. Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving.
- To serve: Soak the blade of a thin knife in a cup of very hot water until warm. Slide the knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake. Place a piece of wax paper on top of the cake. Invert a plate over the wax paper and invert the pan onto the plate. Remove the pan and peel away the paper liner. Place a serving plate over the cake and turn the cake right-side up again; remove the wax paper. Dip a sharp knife in hot water and wipe it dry before cutting each slice. Serve with Candied Orange Peel, if desired.
TIPS & NOTES
- Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. | Equipment: 8- or 9-inch round cake pan, 1/2-2 inches deep; deep baking pan large enough to hold the cake pan; parchment paper
- Note: Cocoa powder comes in two styles: natural and Dutch-processed. Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated with alkali, or “Dutched,” to neutralize the natural acidity of cocoa, while natural has not. For this recipe, we prefer the taste of natural cocoa powder, although either type can be used.
- Tips: To bring an egg to room temperature, submerge it (in the shell) in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes.
- When egg whites are beaten to “soft” peaks, the whites will still be soft enough to curl over when a beater is turned upside down. The whites are considered “stiff” peaks when they remain stiff and upright.
Per serving: 164 calories; 6 g fat ( 3 g sat , 0 g mono ); 35 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 23 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 49 mg sodium; 92 mg potassium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 carbohydrate (other), 1 fat