Since You Asked: Tasty 'bark' is cheap and easy to make

Your paper recently mentioned white chocolate-peppermint bark as a classic holiday gift. Do you have a recipe for that? Gift catalogs charge more than $20 for it packaged in a tin.

— Catherine B., Medford

This is one of those recipes that's easy yet rewarding. You can make enough for four gifts in less than half an hour, and the price — even if you use premium chocolate — will be a fraction of candies in stores and catalogs.

Medford baking expert Rebecca Hill advocates using bar chocolate, but chocolate chips are foolproof, according to Miami Herald food columnist Linda Cicero, who recently ran this recipe.

12 candy canes

2 pounds white chocolate (or white-chocolate chips)

1 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)

Line an 11-by-17-inch jellyroll pan (or cookie sheet with sides) with wax paper, parchment paper or tin foil.

To crush the candy canes, break them into 2 or 3 pieces, place in a self-sealing plastic bag and smash into 1/4-inch bits with a mallet. Measure out about 1 cup.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water or microwave in a heat-proof bowl (use medium-low power, checking and stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted).

Stir in about two-thirds of the smashed candy and peppermint flavoring. Pour and spread onto prepared pan. Try to get an even, 1/4-inch thickness, using a spatula to swirl. Sprinkle remaining candy bits on top while chocolate is still liquid. Refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour) and peel away from paper. Break into small pieces by hand. Store in airtight containers.

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