Peppermint Bark done differently without white chocolate or candy canes. It’s the perfect last minute holiday treat or gift (made a little healthier!)
In true almost Christmas fashion, I am writing this post very last minute. I also went to the post office earlier today and stood in a long line with all the other holiday procrastinators, so last minute is just my MO right now. Isn’t that what what the middle of the month of December is supposed to be – a hurry scurry to get done all the things you put off at the beginning of the month when the 25th felt so casually far away.
I will never agree that the holidays are more stress than joy. I love the twinkly lights and positive energy that comes with this time of year. I love being able to ask anyone you meet what they are doing for the holidays and get a tiny glimpse into their traditions. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling at least a little overwhelmed right now with just 5 days to go. Excited too though! For a break from the usual and especially for seeing family. I love living further away from family now becuase it makes going home that much sweeter.
There are so many more holiday recipes I wanted to share this year but just couldn’t squeeze in. Instead of lamenting the ones that didn’t happen, let’s celebrate the delicious ones that did:
- Hot chocolate you can’t drink…fortunately
- The perfect frosting/sprinkle canvas of a cookie
- Sorry cinnamon rolls, this is Christmas morning done right
- A cookie for the coconut flour fans
- A cookie for the cutest cookie fans (my personal favorite!)
- Gingerbread without a face
- Or in case you are all cookie-d out…fudge
And you better believe my list for next year is already quite lengthy. And titled very explicitly Christmas Recipes 2018 so hopefully I can actually find it on my hard drive 11 months from now.
Now for the last Christmas recipe of this year: PEPPERMINT BARK. Because its a classic. And easy. Minimal effort = last minute perfect.
My intention with this recipe was to create a still minty, still snappy, still festive peppermint bark without candy canes or white chocolate. Without any of the stuff that makes vegan homemade peppermint bark tricky. There are brands of vegan candy canes and vegan white chocolate, but neither is easy to find and you’ve got better last minute things to be doing.
Can I just say…HOLY CANDY CANE! Did this stuff ever turn out amazing. Minus the fact that you won’t get tiny hunks of hard sticky candy caught in your teeth, it’s so so reminiscent of the original.
So here’s what’s happening…
Dark chocolate. I like bittersweet or at least 60% cacao because it contrasts really well with the sweet mint. My go-to chips are these dark chocolate ones because the ingredient list is super simple. If you wanted to make this bark truly refined sugar free then you could make your own homemade chocolate with maple syrup, cacao powder, and coconut oil like this.
Coconut butter. Okay not the easiest to find ingredient in the world, but MUCH easier to find than vegan white chocolate. I chose not to sweeten this layer for a couple of reasons: 1) the bark is sweet enough with the natural sweetness of coconut butter plus the sugar in the dark chocolate 2) adding a liquid sweetener can cause coconut butter to seize up and we want it creamy and smoooooooth.
This layer is where the peppermint happens in the form of two teaspoons of peppermint extract. You could bump it up to 3 if you are really serious.
Red sprinkles. This small but essential detail was the trickiest part. Natural red that isn’t actually pink? I can tell you many things that DON’T work (ahem cranberries, pomegranates, and cherries) But beets finally pulled through for me. Why didn’t I start there?
These sprinkles are made of shredded coconut tossed in the beautiful beet juice and then toasted until dry and crisp. I used one third cup coconut shreds to about four tablespoons beet juice and that was a bright not-pink shade of red.
P.S. There was no peeling and cooking of beets in my kitchen – Trader Joe’s > produce section > steamed baby beets > winning.
And then it’s just a simple matter of melting, layering, chilling, and cracking into deliciously imperfect pieces.
For gifting or sharing or fueling your own personal, pre-holiday, why-did-I-procrasinate? adventures – happy Peppermint Bark making to you!
Peppermint Bark done differently without white chocolate or candy canes. It’s the perfect last minute holiday treat or gift (made a little healthier!)
- 2 cups (340g) dark chocolate chips (*)
- 2–3 cooked beets
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut
- 1 1/4 cup coconut butter, (melted)
- 2 tsps peppermint extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Finally chop (using a knife or blender) the beets. Use a nut milk bag to squeeze out as much juice as possible.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded coconut with 3-4 tbsp beet juice until you have a bright red color.
- Spread out the coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Toast the coconut for approximately 10 minutes at 350F stopping to stir halfway through so the outer pieces don’t burn. It should be lightly brown around the edges and dry to the touch.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate chips.
- Spread the chocolate into a rectangle on a lined baking sheet. Be careful not too spread it too thin.
- Place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Don’t chill for too long or the coconut butter layer will not “stick”.
- In a bowl, stir together the melted coconut butter and the peppermint extract.
- Spread the coconut butter on top of the chilled chocolate.
- Top with the red coconut sprinkles.
- Place in the fridge or freezer until firm.
- Break apart into pieces and enjoy! Keep in the fridge.
*To make it truly refined sugar free, you can make your own dark chocolate sweetened with maple syrup. Here is a recipe using coconut oil or cocoa butter.
I can’t believe those are BEETS!!!! I am beyond impressed. If I liked peppermint, I would be all over this. I may have to steal your coconut/beet concept as a garnish on something else 😉
Please do! Steal em and red sprinkle-ify anything you like, they would be awesome on cookies or cakes or smoothie bowls or honestly anything 🙂 And you could totally skip the peppermint extra here too! Thanks Ashley, always appreciate it. And happy holidays!
Wow — you REALLY need to win an award for this creative one! BRAVO!! And as always, so beautifully done.
Ha you are so sweet Jenni, thank you!! <3
Rebecca Lee says
Beautiful!! fyi, to cook beets, simply cut the stems at the top of the beet, put the beets in a pot, add enough water to have 1-2 inches in the pot, bring to a simmer then cook for 20 min. When cooled enough to handle, peel easily. There will be a little dirt in the bottom perhaps so when you decant the liquid to use in your recipe, leave a bit in the pot. This way, beets are easy, you get to eat the beets and use the juice you would normally waste. If the liquid isn’t heavy enough to accomplish the coloring, you can boil it down to thicken. I used to decant it then boil it down a lot and add cocoa butter for lip gloss. ….just have to be careful not to burn it when you get that low. Hugs and Happy Holidays. I couldn’t let you go another year thinking beets were difficult or needed to be peeled before cooking. Thanks for all your amazing recipes.
You are awesome, thank you so much Rebecca for sharing the process! And such a good idea to use the cooking liquid boiled down instead of the beets themselves, I bet that lip gloss was beautiful. I just threw the squeezed out beet remains in a smoothie, so no veg was wasted 🙂 I never thought to peel them after cooking though, like potatoes–duh. Thanks again and happy holidays to you too <3
I used Rebecca’s comment above and steamed the beets stovetop with about an inch of water in the pan. When the beets were done, I took them out, and put the 1/3 cup coconut into the red water/juice left in the pan. I continued to cook the coconut right in the pan on low/medium heat until the water was absorbed and/or evaporated, and cooked the coconut shreds until they were dry. It requires watching and stirring, but still, much easier than the oven method.
Also, after the dessert was finished, we noticed that the chocolate layer and the coconut butter layer pop apart quite easily. Next time, I’ll try pouring the liquid coconut butter onto the chocolate layer while the chocolate is still warm and soft, so hopefully the two layers will meld together instead of being so distinct.
Okay this comment thread just keeps getting better with the awesome ideas, wow what a great tip to cook the coconut stovetop too! I am so happy you made it already, and thanks so much for sharing this method. As for the separating issue, the same thing happened to me with the first batch I made and yes chilling the dark chocolate for just 5-10 minutes before adding the coconut butter fixes it perfectly. I appreciate the reminder though, I just added that note to the recipe 🙂 Enjoy Janice!
The Vegan 8 says
Natalie, these are sooooooo pretty. That white coconut butter with the red sprinkles throughout on top is just so darn festive, creative and beautiful. Red is my absolute favorite color and my holiday decor is all white and red (how did you know??!!) Hahaha. It’s so pretty and perfect. I love, love the classic peppermint bark but am seriously crushing on this much healthier, but just as yummy of a version! I love beets for natural food color too. I’ve done it for frosting before but never something like coconut. Were your hands all bloody-looking afterwards, hahaha?! I love, love your video…especially the fast breaking apart of the bark…so cool and makes you want to reach through the screen and grab a bite. I totally agree with you too….I’m always posting a Christmas dessert at the 11th hour when probably everybody has already made their cooking/baking list. Oh well, they can make it next year, lol. But this recipe is so darn easy and quick, there really is no excuse not to make it! I hope you have a wonderful time with your family and a very Merry Christmas girl! xx
Hmm how did I somehow imagine your house to be decked out in white and red right about now haha! You do red so well in photos, I’m sure Christmas decor is no different. Although not gonna lie I love that your gingerbread men were NOT red and white and green only. Lol the bloody behind the scenes truth of cheery christmas treats lol. But I actually used a spoon for all the mixing so hands were not too bad (videos forcing me to be lady-like in the kitchen🙄) Now the white table I shoot on…different story. I mean I have no intention of stopping eating gingerbread things until after New Years at the earliest so I say last minute xmas treats ftw! We are just banking on the fact that EVERYONE procrastinates ha. Good luck getting last minute holiday things done and merry christmas to you too! xo
This peppermint bark looks absolutely amazing and so festive! How clever to use beets to color the shredded coconut naturally. And haha, I am always “last-minute” too and my list for 2018 Christmas recipes is getting longer and longer 😀 I hope you enjoyed your holidays, Natalie.
December needs to be twice as long or we need to start working on holiday recipes in like…October haha. Ah well, lots for next year assuming we can remember 🙂
Jennifer Allen says
Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I made these for my Pilates clients and it was so easy.
I am so happy everyone liked it! Thanks for the feedback Jennifer and happy holidays❤️
I have used peppermint extract before in candy recipes& my husband said he could taste the alcohol& was overwhelming, so I bought frontier peppermint food grade oil but find you have to use soo much to get the right taste ( keep adding& tasting). I found no guide lines on using the frontier oil,especially the almond oil they have doesn’t have much taste. Any help you could give me on which brand to get ,alcohol or non alcohol kind would be greatly appreciated. I love peppermint bark& miss it! Want to try this soo much. What brand do you use& will we taste the alcohol. Also do you know of a better brand than frontier for good flavor. p.s thank u for all your recipes you share!
I personally use the Nielsen Massey peppermint extract most of the time which is alcohol based. If you use too much you can taste the alcohol flavor in no-bake recipes (baking will burn that off), but never enough that I dislike it personally. Pure peppermint oil won’t have the alcohol flavor but is MUCH stronger, you would only need a few drops as opposed to 1-2 teaspoons of extract. I like the Frontier one okay, but it is diluted with sunflower oil. If you just search for “pure peppermint oil” you can find the 100% essential oil. It is very strong and you only need a tiny bit, but that is probably the best way to go to avoid the alcohol flavor!
Tried this recipe. I had difficulty though! I melted chocolate chips on stove and then added coconut oil and cacao to make more chocolate. It was a fail. Not sure if I should have made in separate batches? Anyways, it got real thick so I added almond milk / water and it got very weird and clumpy! I’m not use to melting chocolate can you tell?? Right so we melt chocolate and then proceeded to following steps. I try to melt coconut butter in micro, it doesn’t melt. I become afraid of burning (I should researched how to melt this butter 🙄) so I move to stove and still no melting! I give up and spread on chocolate and it’s not awful but definitely looks like the Milky Way vs and nice layer. End result, it’s not bad but it’s too oily and chocolatey for me. I think i just don’t like peppermint bark? I don’t love straight chocolate. I think too I can taste the oil and it wigs me out. I bet the husband will like it. I like chocolate but more in a cookie or muffin. Alas I am glad I tried it and maybe I will do better next time. Tips and advice appreciated!
Ohmygoodness, what an adventure! Okay so I don’t recommend trying to make more chocolate with the coconut oil + cacao, sticking with just the chips will work much better. You can add a little bit of just oil to make it thinner, but not necessary for a recipe like this. Almond milk contains a lot of water, so not a great ingredient to add to melted chocolate hence the clumpiness. Coconut butter is tricky to melt, super low and slow is best stovetop or microwave and stir it frequently because it can burn quite easy. I usually do about 10 seconds on high and thats all it takes. But yes this is very much of a straight chocolate vibe, perhaps choc peppermint cupcakes would be more your style https://feastingonfruit.com/peppermint-mocha-cupcakes/🤗
Thank you so much for your response! So so helpful. The coconut butter, do you microwave for 10 seconds or on the stove top? I microwaved and it would not melt and I was scared to burn it. Then stove top took forever to melt and it wasn’t runny.
I did try the cupcakes! I made the mocha peppermint without coffee, almond milk instead! It was good! Messed up the frosting sadly! I don’t think I let the cashews soak long enough. It was too runny since I added too much liquid. 😣
So for coconut butter I usually do 10 seconds in the microwave, stovetop I typically do a water bath for coconut butter but it takes a lot longer. And yes cashews do best if you soak them overnight unless you have a super powerful blender for frosting making, the oil vs milk will help that too since coconut oil hardens when you chill it where milk does not. Hope that all makes sense!
Gosh thank you!! so coconut butter, it did not melt too well in the micro! Did you add liquid to it?!
Mmm I used vitamix, I think I added too much almond milk. 🙄
You’re the best thank you!