Thursday, December 17, 2009

Homemade Peppermint Bark

DSC03543 Wrapped Peppermint Bark

My daughter has been perfecting her homemade peppermint bark recipe for the past three years and she kindly agreed to let me share it with you. These are the ingredients she used this year (I only show one bag of each chocolate but this recipe requires two of each). Most bulk chocolates work well also.

DSC03523 Peppermint Bark Ingredients

2 bags (12-oz each) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Whole Foods 365 Organic)
2 bags (12-oz each)of white chocolate chunks (Whole Foods 365)
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 cup crushed candy canes (use individually-wrapped candy canes)
Spray oil (Pam)

1. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil. The cookie sheet must have a lip all around.

2. Slowly melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove from heat right before the last little bit of chocolate is melted. It will finish melting on its own, do not overcook.

DSC03524 Melting chocolate

DSC03525 Tempered Chocolate

3. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.

4. Pour the melted dark chocolate, while it is still hot, onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread evenly with a spatula.

DSC03526 Peppermint Bark base

DSC03527 Peppermint Bark Semi-sweet layer

5. Place in refrigerator until it is completely cooled, about 20 minutes.

6. Now is a good time to crush the candy canes between two sheets of wax paper.

Update: To avoid a spectacular spray of red and white, leave candy canes in their wrappers during crushing.

This is an excellent task for a teenage brother.

DSC03529 Crushing Candy Canes

It takes self-control and finesse to get just the right granularity:

DSC03531 Crushed Peppermint

7. Slowly melt the white chocolate chunks in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove from heat right before the last little bit of chocolate is melted.

DSC03532 Tempering White Chocolate

DSC03533 Warm Peppermint Bark

8. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.

9. Pour the melted white chocolate, while it is still hot, over the completely cooled dark chocolate and spread evenly with a spatula.

10. While the white chocolate is still soft, sprinkle the crushed peppermint on top of the white chocolate and gently push them into the chocolate.

11. Place in refrigerator until it is completely cooled, about 20 minutes.

12. Break into large hunks using a butter knife.

13. Best if served cold.

DSC03542 Wrapped Peppermint Bark

Here is the text of the recipe:

Peppermint Bark

2 bags (12-oz each) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Whole Foods 365 Organic)
2 bags (12-oz each)of white chocolate chunks (Whole Foods 365)
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 cup crushed candy canes (use individually-wrapped candy canes)
Spray oil (Pam)

1. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil. The cookie sheet must have a lip all around.
2. Slowly melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove from heat right before the last little bit of chocolate is melted. It will finish melting on its own, do not overcook.
3. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.
4. Pour the melted dark chocolate, while it is still hot, onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread evenly with a spatula.
5. Place in refrigerator until it is completely cooled, about 20 minutes.
6. Crush the candy canes in their individual wrappers and between two sheets of wax paper.
7. Slowly melt the white chocolate chunks in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove from heat right before the last little bit of chocolate is melted.
8. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.
9. Pour the melted white chocolate, while it is still hot, over the cooled dark chocolate and spread evenly with a spatula.
10. While the white chocolate is still soft, sprinkle the crushed peppermint on top of the white chocolate and gently push them into the chocolate.
11. Place in refrigerator until it is completely cooled, about 20 minutes.
12. Break into large hunks using a butter knife.
13. Best if served cold.

Bon Appetit! Smakelijk eten!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tech Awards 2009 – The Intel Environment Award Laureates

DSC03177 tech award trophy

In my November 20th post I promised I would tell you about the Tech Awards Laureates. Travel and a very bad cold that kept my head in a fog prevented me from making good on my promise until now.

The Tech Awards were granted in five categories: environment, economic development, education, equality, and health. Each of the Tech Award Laureates received a beautiful trophy: a crystal globe on a silicon ingot and one winner in each category received a $50,000 cash award from the sponsors.

Today I will tell you about the winners of the Intel Environment Award.

Cows to Kilowatts

DSC03213 Dr Joseph Adelegan - Cows to Kilowatts

The top award in this category went to Dr. Joseph Adelegan’s ingenious Cows to Kilowatts project in Nigeria. Adelegan deviced a means to transform slaughterhouse wastewater into energy ranging from electricity to cooking gas.







Not only does the project prevent air pollution and diseases borne by untreated wastewaters, the technology uses a zero-emissions method to produce organic fertilizer and clean-burning methane for low-income farmers and families.


LeafView: An Electronic Field Guide

DSC03188 Dr Sean M White - LeafView

Dr. Sean White enthusiastically demonstrated the LeafView gadget that can take a picture of any leaf and then automatically identify it by using computer vision algorithms and its extensive electronic field guide database. White developed the human-to-computer interface together with Columbia University, University of Maryland, and Smithsonian Institution.



The tool then records the leaf and its contextual data, like GPS coordinates, to the living record of the world’s plants. Botanists are in a hurry to populate this database because the world is loosing species faster than it can record them.




White hopes to recruit more volunteers so that he can complete development of the iPhone application. The ubiquitous availability of this tool can contribute to the world’s digital herbaria more accurately and exponentially faster than ever before.

GRUPEDSAC: Ecotechniques Toolkits for Self-Sufficiency

DSC03189 Lilly Wolfensberger

I had the great pleasure of meeting Lilly Wolfensberger who accepted the award for GRUPEDSAC, the organization in Mexico who dispenses eco-friendly toolkits to rural families who live below the poverty line. The toolkits include, cisterns for collecting rain water, prickly pear natural paint and waterproofing resin, a solar dehydrator, a solar water heater, a wood-saving stove, a wind/solar generator, a rope pump, an electricity-generator bicycle, and a solar oven. The recipients of these toolkits also receive training and guidance to ensure that the communities can become self-sufficient while preserving the environment.

I hope to tell you about the other laureates as soon as possible.
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