Monday, March 7, 2011

Valentines Candy

Originally posted 2/8/11

Less then a week till Valentine’s Day!  If I haven’t told you yet….I love Valentine’s Day…now.  This hasn’t always been the case.  When I was single, I was the bitter Betty that hated it.  Now that I am married with kids……love it, love it, love it.  Not in a cheesy way, like the Hallmark commercials, but in the “I love candy” kind of way.  Yep, to me, Valentine’s Day is all about the candy that you give and receive.  Of course, I will eat the boxed candy you can get at the grocery store, and I do appreciate a good box of See’s candy…but my favorite is homemade.  You all know that I like to make things myself, and this year I am making chocolate and white chocolate bark, with a variety of additions.
Making candy bark is surprisingly easy.  It really is just melting chocolate and throwin’ on some toppings.  The chocolate hardens, breaks apart and tastes great!  I’m no chocolatier (that’s a real thing!), but I do know my way around chocolate;)  I melt it in the microwave (don’t be fooled into thinking you need a double boiler), and I add things you might already have in your pantry.  I will show you 4 different kinds that I made, and hopefully, it will give you some ideas of what you could do.
I started with white chocolate.  White chocolate is not my favorite.  I won’t turn it down, but it isn’t my first choice.  But….it is my kid’s first choice.  I’m a giver;) 
For my first version, I used white chocolate and some candy that might be another name for a dork.  I don’t want to name name’s…..  I use a “baking bar” of white chocolate.  You can use chips, but they might not melt as well.  They contain a stabilizer to help them keep their shape when baked.
I broke the bar up and popped it in the microwave for about 45 seconds.  I stirred it and gave it another 45 seconds….perfectly melted.  This will depend on your microwave’s strength, but this way should work just fine.  Once the chocolate was smooth, I dumped it onto some lightly greased foil.  I spread it out and poured on the candy.
It shouldn’t be uniform, as it will be broken up into random pieces.  That is another reason that this candy is so easy!  It looks better when it has jagged edges. The less perfect, the better!  This version is a kid pleaser, for sure.  Candy #1=done!
My second white chocolate version is a little more grown up.  I used another white chocolate baking bar, rum extract, dried pineapple (I diced it into smaller pieces) and sweetened coconut.  I melted the chocolate in the same way….in the same bowl.  Why dirty something else that I will just have to clean later?;)
Once the chocolate was melted, I stirred in about a teaspoon of rum extract.  Stir well because too much extract will cause the chocolate to “seize up.”  That just means it will get stiff.
I spread this chocolate out on the same pan…..because I had room.  No special reason other than that.
I sprinkled on the pineapple and coconut and #2=done!

Then, I moved onto the real stuff…..the chocolate.  I used semi-sweet baking bars.  I prefer dark chocolate to milk, but you can pick what you like.  Don’t just use what I like….unless you are giving it to me. 
For this one, I went with some sweet and salty additions.  I love the combination of sweet and salty, and crunchy and soft.  I used the mini marshmallows, pretzel sticks, peanut butter chips and the semi sweet chocolate.  I melt this chocolate the same way I melted the white chocolate, but nuked this for an additional 15 seconds.  White chocolate melts faster then regular chocolate.  Don’t ask me why-I’m not a scientist;)
Same idea as above, I melted the chocolate and poured it onto greased foil.  I spread it out until it was about ¼ of an inch.
I sprinkled on the peanut butter chips….
Man, forget the candy…Apparently; I need a manicure for Valentine’s Day.
Once I sprinkled on the pretzels and marshmallows, I pressed the toppings down a bit to get them to stick.  And FYI-that is white chocolate on my hand.  I have not been spending time with a certain Hollywood star who may or may not be on a popular CBS show and prefers the company of “adult” entertainers…..
For my last version, I used more semi-sweet chocolate, mini chocolate candy coated candies, and crushed chocolate chip cookies.  I used store bought cookies because they are harder and eaiser to crumble. 
Again, same idea….I melted the chocolate, spread it out, and sprinkled on my toppings, pressing down where necessary.

I let all of the “barks” sit out at room temperature for about 4 hours.  They will harden up as they sit.  There is no need to put them in the fridge, in fact, this can make them a weird texture.  Room temperature is best. 
Once the chocolate hardens, they chocolate will break easily.  I broke mine into pieces.  I like a variety of sizes, so I kind of broke at random.
I packaged my candy up into heart shaped boxes that I will show you in just a second;)  I used tissue paper in the boxes for prettier presentation.  Of course, you can mix and match the candy however you want.
I bought heart shaped boxes from the craft store.  These are readily available at the craft store around Valentine’s Day.  They are cardboard, so they are pretty cheap.  I painted the boxes and stenciled the words on with black paint.  They are meant to look like candy conversation hearts in case you didn’t get that;)  I also glued some ribbon on the side to make them a bit fancier.  Wouldn’t you love to get that for Valentine’s Day? 
I hope you give this candy a try.  Please feel free to use my toppings, but I bet there are so many other versions you could come up with!  In the time it took me to write this, I have already thought of 10 other versions…..oh well, there is always next year;)


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