Valentine’s Day 2016 may be behind us, but luckily we’re still enjoying these crazy good treats that treated us well on V-Day. It’s a bar layered with tender, buttery chocolate shortbread on the bottom, a creamy York Peppermint Patty-like middle, topped with melted chocolate. It’s hard to overstate how good they are. Thank you, Melissa Clark.
Chocolate Peppermint Bars
For the Shortbread:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
For the peppermint filling and chocolate top:
3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup heavy cream
2 ¼ teaspoons peppermint extract, or to taste
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 60 percent cocoa solids), chopped
½ teaspoon coconut oil (optional)
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of paper to hang over the sides.
Make the shortbread: In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Add butter and process until a smooth dough forms. Press dough evenly into the bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake until firm to the touch, and sides of the crust are beginning to pull away from the pan, about 25 minutes. Cool completely.
Make the filling: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter, cream and peppermint extract. Beat until mixture forms a thick, smooth paste. Press filling evenly over shortbread. Chill to set the filling for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
Use parchment paper overhang to lift the shortbread and peppermint out of the baking pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares (there should be 36 squares). Place squares on a rack placed over a parchment-lined sheet tray, and let them come to room temperature for about 15 minutes.
In the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt 7 ounces chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat, add remaining 2 ounces chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes.
Add coconut oil, if using, and stir the chocolate until smooth. Spoon 1 teaspoon chocolate on top of a cut peppermint square, using the back of the spoon to spread chocolate to the edges. Be sure to fully cover the top of the square with chocolate. (Leave the sides exposed, though it’s O.K. if some of the chocolate drips down.) Repeat with remaining squares.
Let squares sit at room temperature until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour.