Easter Candy Bark
The Easter Bunny brought too much candy. He (she?) always does. And as always, by Tuesday of next week, everyone will be so sick of white chocolate bunnies, pastel M&Ms and overcooked hard-boiled eggs tinted a freakish blue-green color from the dye that seeped in, that they'll refuse to eat any of it. The eggs will go in the trash and the candy will end up in the cupboard till it gets cleaned out in October.
This year, don't let that happen. Turn the excess candy into a slightly different treat and your family's love for the sweet stuff will be renewed -- like when you top a baked potato with last night's chili and pretend it's a new meal. Because it is a new meal. I was inspired by the aisles of garishly-hued marshmallow Peeps staring at me whenever I walked into the store, and also by Food Network Magazine's adorable white chocolate bark studded with marshmallows and peppermint candies. I can make this, I thought, with the contents of an Easter basket. And the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.
After you've chosen the Easter candy you want to re-purpose (anything will work -- jellybeans, Peeps, Marshmallow eggs, M&Ms, Robin Eggs . . .), you'll need to prep it. Chopping up Peeps is exactly as satisfying as it sounds. I found that kitchen shears work best for this task, but a sharp or serrated knife would probably do the trick, too.
I tried chopping the candy in the food processor, figuring it would be easier, but the candy got chopped too much, leaving it dusty-looking. I wanted the candy to be broken up a bit, but not pulverized. The best way to gently crush candies with a hard shell, like M&Ms and Reese's, is to put some in a bag, and crunch down on them with a coffee mug or rolling pin. Don' t mash them up too much though, it's ok if some of the pieces are left whole.
Once the candy is prepped, you can start destroying the white chocolate rabbits --ahem -- melting the white chocolate. You can use white chocolate chips for the base of the bark, but melting the bunnies that no one really likes anyway is much more fun. When you melt the chocolate, make sure the bowl and whisk are completely dry; adding water to the chocolate will cause it to seize (it'll get all grainy and you'll have to throw it out). Overcooking it will cause it to seize, too, so cook until it's just melted and stir often.
Once the white chocolate is melted, spread it on a baking sheet lined with foil, shiny side up. Spread the candy on top of the white chocolate, distributing the colors and textures evenly. Refrigerate the bark for one hour until it's set, then break it into pieces.
1 cup assorted pastel-colored Easter candies (such as M&Ms and Reese's Pieces)
Line a baking sheet with foil, shiny-side up; smooth out the creases.
Cut the Peeps with a knife or kitchen shears into eighths. Crush the candies by placing them in a resealable bag and gently rolling a mug or rolling pin over the bag. It's fine if some of the candies are left whole.
Create a double boiler by putting a glass or metal bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Do not overheat the chocolate or it will seize.
Remove the bowl from the pan and wipe the condensation from the bottom. Pour the white chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet; use the rubber spatula to spread it into a 10-to-12-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick.
Press the chopped Peeps and crushed candies into the chocolate, arranging them so each bite has a mix of flavors, colors and textures. Refrigerate the chocolate for 1 hour to completely set before breaking it into large pieces. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks.