Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Bars

This is my last post on Christmas cookies that I made these past weeks.  Since it's the last, it's also my favorite!  I love anything peppermint this time of year; I've eaten peppermint bark candies and thin mint cookies, drunk peppermint tea and peppermint mocha coffee.  These bars have buttery base, then it's the sweet and peppermint layer, and lastly it's the smooth dark chocolate top.  Ah, so heavenly!  

With this post, I'm sending a Merry Christmas to you all!  I'll be busy tomorrow and Christmas day, enjoying time with my family.

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Bars

Makes 30, 2 ½-x-¾"-bars

For shortbread crust:
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

For peppermint and chocolate layers:
3 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 Tablespoons boiling water
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
⅓ cups peppermint candy, such as starlight mints, crushed
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly spray 8 x 8" pan with oil.  Line pan with parchment paper to the top edges of the pan.  With a stand or handheld mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt until fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom.  Add yolks, one at a time, then vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Add flour all at once and mix at low speed until combined; do not overwork.  Press dough into prepared pan and level the surface.  Prick with a fork in several places and bake 15-18 minutes, until edges are golden brown.  Allow to cool completely before proceeding with next steps.

Make peppermint layer:  Place powdered sugar in a bowl, add boiling water and extract then mix with a rubber spatula until smooth.  Add crushed candy and mix well.  Working quickly, spread over cooled crust and level.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Chop chocolate and place into microwaveable bowl.  Heat 1 minute on 60% power.  Mix with a rubber spatula then heat again 30 seconds, mix, then heat another 30 seconds.  Add oil and blend well.  If there are lumps, heat again 30 seconds, being careful not to scorch.  When smooth, pour over peppermint and quickly spread into an even layer to cover.  Allow chocolate to harden.

Lift parchment paper to remove the pan.  Using a large, sharp knife, slice into bars of desired size and serve.

Note:  be sure to use genuine peppermint extract or oil and good quality bittersweet chocolate.  They make the difference in these bars.

Source:  adapted from Market of Choice website

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