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Well Fed Buff: Winter's Veil bark

Every Thursday, Well Fed Buff will be serving up the tastiest dishes to boost your HP and stats, just in time for your weekend gaming.

To kick off the first edition of Well Fed Buff, and because we're launching right before Winter's Veil 2007, what better way to fill up than on holiday goodies?

Winter's Veil bark is a decadent, mint-chocolate treat that is both decorative and extremely easy to make. This no-bake dessert snack also has quite a few ways that it can be customized, few ingredients, and is inexpensive. Perhaps the best part of this recipe is that it is extremely kid-friendly, so if you have kids or younger siblings, earn some brownie points and include them! Just follow me through the jump to get the details on how to whip up a plate! If you're still weary, note that you can do it all using your microwave.

The tools:
  1. Microwave or stove-top.
  2. Two microwave-safe bowls, or two saucepans.
  3. Two spoons.
  4. Preferably, a mortar and pestle (if not, an old plate or mixing bowl).
  5. Small-medium sized cookie sheet or cake pan.
  6. Wax paper.
  7. A metal spatula.
The mats:
  1. One box of baker's white chocolate, equaling about six 6-ounce 1 ounce squares.
  2. 1 cup (6 ounces) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (about half a standard bag).
  3. One box of candy canes, about 12-14. Peppermint candies can also be used. When crushed, it should equal roughly a cup, although the actual amount used is up to you.
The first step in preparing your bark is to crush some candy canes. This part is fun, but also very sticky, so if you have kids in the house, log some sibling or parental moments and put them to work! After you unwrap them, break them up a few at a time and grind them using your mortar and pestle. In the absence of these handy tools, you can place the pieces into a mixing bowl, and use the bottom of a smaller mixing bowl to grind up the candy. I'll let you guess which method I used!

Next, unwrap the white chocolates and place them in one of your microwave-safe bowls. Using about 70% power, melt the chocolate, stirring it until it is smooth and lump-free. Repeat with the chocolate chips in a separate bowl. If you are using saucepans, set your burners to low or minimum heat, and stir the chocolate until melted and smooth, then remove from heat.

Pick up your spoons, and dig into the candy cane bits! You'll need to mix roughly six spoonfuls into each bowl of chocolate. If you're using saucepans, be careful when using metal spoons not to scrape the bottom of the pans.

Now for the artistic flair. Grab your cookie sheet or cake pan, lined with wax paper, and start spooning in the two chocolate mixtures. Remembering that you are aiming for a fairly thin layer, about 1/4 of an inch thick, alternate the chocolate globs. Do not be disappointed if it looks unprofessional at this stage.

Once you've spooned all of your chocolate onto the pan, try to resist the urge to mix or spread it. Instead, coax the chocolate into the corners by shifting the wax paper. Drag the tip of a metal spatula, cake/pie serving tool, or even a toothpick, through the chocolate. Use swirling motions, and be careful not to stir it too much. Watch as in some areas, the chocolates will blend; too much blending will ruin the visual effect, as well as the taste of the two chocolates.

When you are satisfied with your swirling, take the remaining candy cane bits and shake them on top. While many people grind their candy canes very fine, I like to leave some slightly larger chunks for visual variety. At least, that is the story that I, with my mixing-bowl mortar and pestle substitute, am sticking to.

Speaking of sticky, because we are using wax paper to coat the pan, you should not have much trouble with clean-up. Provided that you run your bowls or saucepans and spoons under some hot water once you've spooned out the chocolate, dishes will be a breeze.

Simply place the cookie sheet into the fridge and chill until solid. Then, lift the wax paper off of the pan, and the bark from the paper. Break the bark into pieces; don't try to cut it into neat squares. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container until game-night.

Customization
Personally, I love this dessert because I was able to easily adapt it to my allergies. Because many brand-name chocolate chips and baker's chocolates come from nut and peanut-free facilities, and there are very few other ingredients, it's a great treat that everyone can share. You can even buy candy canes and peppermints that have no food-coloring in them.

If you're feeling experimental, then try substituting one of the chocolates for butterscotch chips, vanilla chips, peanut-butter chips, or caramel chips. You could also use dark chocolate, or spearmint rather than peppermint candies. In fact, because candy canes can be found in a variety of flavors, you shouldn't feel too confined to mint. You can also add nuts, marshmallows, candy-coated chocolates, and anything you can dream up!

Why it's the perfect gaming snack
This bark is cheap and easy to prepare, making it a good way to not only buff yourself, but your friends as well. It has the powers of chocolate, which is basically a gaming food group, but is also crunchy, satisfying the deeply ingrained need to munch. You can even make it at your dorm, provided you have access to your floor's microwave and fridge. Because it's broken into pieces, it can easily be managed while gaming, although your fingers might need a quick lickin' before you hit the keyboard. We recommend taking the time to buff up when your character is doing the same.

Buffs
Each piece of Winter's Veil bark grants +30 stamina, +50 chocolate power (similar to attack power, but more chocolatey!) and increases the likelihood that you will have /silly moments.

Filed under: How-tos, Odds and ends, Features, Buffs, Well Fed Buff

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