(Originally posted on December 21, 2007 — it is an annual tradition at Smile Politely to repost this article. Enjoy!)
Last year on Dec. 22, I relayed a basic recipe for peppermint bark that was created by my paternal grandmother Maizie. For years, I told myself that I would learn how to do make peppermint bark by going over to her place and having her show me how, step by step. I wanted to make sure that even if she were to pass away, the recipe would live on, and could be enjoyed by my family for generations to come.
On January 13 of this year, less than a month after I published her recipe, Grandma Maizie went into the night, with a smile on her face. I miss her now especially, as she was a fixture unlike any other during the holidays: her presence, her paper-thin skin and most definitely, her peppermint candy.
This year I decided to carry on the tradition by hosting a little gathering for our family at my house to make some of it for all the kids. And that includes me. Afterward, I thought to myself that it would be nice to post this annually, in honor of my father’s mother, and as a way to pass along her candy recipe to you all, the readers. Your numbers have grown by more than 600% in our first year, so I anticipate that this treat will be on even more table spreads on Christmas Eve in the years to come.
Here is the original post, updated to include a few things that I learned this year. I’ve also tagged it in the “Celebrity Recipes” section, because for what she went through, Grandma Maizie will always be a celebrity to me.
Come Christmas time, I know what my Grandma Maizie is up to. My mouth salivates at the prospect of wolfing down as much of her peppermint bark as possible, despite the fact that we are generally relegated to a mere two ounces or so. This year, I decided that her measly portions were simply not enough, and I tasked her to show Smile Politely the recipe, and better yet, let me watch her make it. She agreed, and I was off to her new digs on East Colorado Drive in Urbana.
This recipe is so simple. The key is to infuse the peppermint into the melted candy pieces. I have never been a fan of white chocolate, and I always wondered why I never cringe when I eat this tasty winter treat.
- Double boiler
- Cookie sheets
- Rubber scraper
- Roll of aluminum foil
- MalletPlastic bags
- 2 – 14-ounce bags of Wilton’s white Vanilla melts (find at Michael’s art supply)
- 1 – Joy-Brite peppermint candy stick (find at Walgreen’s)
Here’s how to do it:
Lay out aluminum foil on cookie sheets. Bring water in the double boiler to a low heat, and start to melt the white candy pieces down. Meanwhile, bash the hell out of the peppermint stick inside of a bag. Make sure there are some bigger chunks of peppermint as well as some pieces that have been pulverized. You’ll need both. Separate the two different sizes of peppermint to create two bags: one of pulverized tiny sand-like pieces, and one of bigger chunks. When the chocolate is fully melted, infuse the pulverized peppermint into the hot, melted chocolate and mix it in thoroughly. After it is fully infused, pour the mixture onto the aluminum foil in the center of the pan and spread it around so that it is a thin layer. That is very important. If it is too thick, it will not be pleasurable to eat; too thick and it will lose flavor.
After spreading it well, place the bigger chunks of peppermint candy on top of the mixture, equally distributing it around the layer. Pop it into the freezer for about 15–25 minutes, or until it is frozen through. Take the candy out and gently tear it away from the foil; it should come off easily. Take the mallet and use a knife to act as a wedge and bash it into bite-sized pieces.
Best peppermint candy in the league. Thanks Grandma!
Photos by Justine Bursoni