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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

today's happy act of kindness: peppermint bark for everyone!

Since I started The Happygirl Experiment, one of the things I learned is that the absolute best way to make yourself feel better is to do something for someone else. It helps you to get out of your own head, get out of your own way. It's also kind of like a reverse magnifying glass. Doing something nice for someone else takes your focus away from your own problems and that's a big deal when your world seems to be revolving around the thing that makes you sad/angry/worried. When you perform a happy/kind act it can be a nice change when you fall into the whole "Why me? / Life is awful! / People are mean! / Why did I get this stupid parking ticket?" funk.

I wrote about this concept after Hurricane Sandy. How performing acts of kindness and sending out positivity in the world could help ward off the bad stuff. Maybe you feel helpless and you wonder what one person can do. Guess what? You matter. You can be the difference in someone restoring their faith in humanity.

I love what Ann Curry wrote regarding performing 26 Acts of Kindness in honor of the Sandy Hook victims. It's a really wonderful way to honor them but what if this feeling of goodwill towards men was something we did every day? What if each one of us did one thing intentionally to make someone's day better? It could be holding the door open for someone, dog sitting for a friend or paying the toll for the person behind you.

Starting January 1, join us every week on The Happygirl. Every single week throughout 2013. In honor of the Sandy Hook victims, the Hurricane Sandy victims, the people who are no longer in our lives, the people who we miss every day. What would you do if they were here? Why not still do it in their memory? So, in 2013 perform acts of happiness, for the Sandy Hook victims, for the people who had only love and innocence in their hearts and for you and you and you because goodness and happiness spreads faster than any evil or heartbreak can.

For today: Cheer someone up with chocolate! Chocolate makes everything better, right? Be responsible for someone's surge in endorphins!

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

This recipe is ridiculously easy. It's also easily scalable. You can make 1 pan or 4 at a time. 

Here's the basic recipe. I doubled it to make 20 boxes. I only use Ghirardelli chocoloate. I find it makes the smoothest, purest tasting treats.

3 bags of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
1 bag of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips
1 box of candy canes (crush enough to make 1/2 cup)

Use either a nonstick sheet pan or a pan lined with parchment. Set aside.

Crush candy canes into small bits using a hammer. (A coffee mug works in a pinch!) Set aside.

Over double boiler, melt white chocolate chips until smooth. You can also do this in the microwave. Start by heating bowl of chocolate chips for one minute, stir, heat another minute, stir until smooth. Set aside. Do not set the chocolate for 5 minutes in the microwave. It will be a disaster. Slow and steady wins the race here.

Immediately add candy cane chips to white chocolate. Stir until incorporated and pour mixture into prepared pan. Smooth out with spatula. Don't worry if it isn't pretty. It's supposed to look rustic. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour. 

An hour or more later, melt 1 bag of bittersweet chocolate in double boiler or microwave. Set aside. 

Remove tray(s) of white chocolate / candy cane bark from refrigerator. Dip a fork into the dark chocolate and drizzle chocolate over white chocolate bark. Use as much or as little as you'd like. Place back in refrigerator. 

Prepare your gift boxes. Remove bark from refrigerator and using your hands start breaking the bark into pieces. Do this as quickly as possible or the heat of your kitchen (or your hands) will start melting the bark and it will be harder to get those beautiful clean breaks. 


Some people add peppermint oil to the white chocolate in addition to the candy canes but I like the pure taste of the white chocolate studded with candy cane bits. 

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