Yesterday, our super-fantastic corgi puppy, Baker's Street Peppermint Bark! (Pepper, for short), turned one year old. As some of you know, our dear Cosmo passed in late 2015 and the time between saying goodbye to him and welcoming Pepper into our lives was quiet and a bit more empty than any of us wanted. Pepper is Cosmo's nephew and, as my husband likes to say, their family is good for our family. So as a special tribute to the joy he's brought to our home and hearts and more than a little just showing off his cuteness with you all, I am sharing a quick and easy recipe for his namesake as well as a bunch of photos and, frankly, gushing about our wonderful furry companion! If you're not a dog person, you may wish to scroll to the candy pics and recipe at the end of this post. For the rest of you, consider it a cute and joyful early Christmas gift!
Born on December 13, 2016, it would be a few months before Pepper would be ready to come home, but just knowing that was on the horizon put an extra spring in our steps while we waited. His breeder and doggie family loved him and helped him grow and learn lots of great things before coming home, including being basically house-trained and already knowing his name! And when he did come home, he crawled right into our hearts and has been there ever since, whether he's getting into mischief or sleeping like an angel!
Of course, it's been a year of many firsts for him. Everything from seeing his first kite in flight to bobbing for blueberries in the kiddie pool came with curiosity and enthusiasm. It's rare that you need to wonder what he's thinking because he has a way of letting us know.
Puppy classes to help him get the basics of training and meet other puppy friends were among his favorite first adventures, although we're lucky enough to live in a very dog-friendly neighborhood and Pepper's outgoing nature means he's always meeting new friends and stopping traffic wherever he trots.
Anyone not familiar with corgis might be surprised to know how much they shed, but you can pretty regularly build another puppy with the fur you comb out of Pepper's coat. Fortunately, he's pretty patient about it all, knowing some Cheerios or other treats might be finding him when beauty time is done.
The summer months were packed with lots of outdoor adventures, including exploring tents, ducks, and taking a road trip to meet a fun big dog named Bella (and her family, which include my brother and his amazing family - but I'm pretty sure Pepper was focused on Bella).
As fall began to show itself, we introduced him to the concept of dressing up — mostly for Halloween, but also just because he's adorable. He's not sure he understands the idea, even though one of his favorite neighborhood dog friends regularly sports sweatshirts and jackets. He's so patient with us!
A long, warm autumn was met with corgi smiles and a great deal of enthusiasm for any rabbits or squirrels that found their way into our back yard. One of Pepper's favorite pastimes is running as fast as he can toward the fence and turning at the last moment to show off his cornering skills. Lots of people are impressed, even though that's to be expected with herding dogs.
When inside, Pepper is a consummate cuddler. His favorites are his people, but he will also snuggle with toys, blankets, and furniture. Regularly while I am writing, he takes it upon himself to snuggle with my feet and keep them warm. This is especially appreciated as the weather turns cooler.
He's also a fan of just soaking up the sun. My office is his favorite place for this, as a couple of large picture windows readily provide hours of sunshine for him to enjoy most days. And, of course, this means I regularly get the treat of watching him nap, wiggle, and play in the sunshine while I work. It's a good setup for both of us.
As winter begins to show, Pepper is very much at the heart of our family: enjoying warm nights in front of the fireplace, taking long walks in the crunchy leaves, and generally helping us embrace the joy, laughter, and peace that come with having an amazing dog help keep our compasses pointed positive. As 2017 finds its end, Pepper is definitely my family's highlight of the year.
Pepper's registered name (chosen by our daughter - "Peppermint Bark … get it?") is Baker's Street Peppermint Bark! It was chosen because 1) I love food and beverage names for my pets, and 2) since his litter was born so close to Christmas, holiday-themed cookies and candies seemed like perfect inspiration. So in his honor and as a special treat to you, I am sharing my favorite peppermint bark recipe. It's so easy to assemble, it will only take a few minutes and even the kids can help make it. The only heating happens in the microwave and the swirling can be especially fun for the kiddos.
Remember to put the cut or broken bark into a container and store it in the refrigerator or at least a fairly chilled space. Otherwise, you might find your bark a bit sloppy and no one needs that. Also, despite being a tribute to my precious puppy, remember that chocolate is not safe for pets so keep this one for the humans and maybe consider checking out this dog-friendly cookie recipe for your own Fido! Happy birthday, Pepper.
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chip
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1-2 drops green food coloring (more or less for desired color)
- 1/2 cup chopped Andes mints (I used Andes baking chips)
Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper or a silicone baking mat.
Place the semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Heat the chocolate until it is melted and smooth and free of lumps. Carefully spread the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet into a layer about 1/4-inch thick. Set aside briefly.
Melt the white chocolate using the same microwave method, gradually melting it in short increments and stirring frequently. Once it is melted, add the peppermint oil and green food coloring; stir until the coloring and flavoring are mixed in. If the green shade isn't strong enough, add another small amount until you get a minty green color that you like.
Use a spoon to drop small spoonfuls of the white chocolate on top of the chocolate already on the baking sheet in a random pattern. Take a knife and swirl the two chocolates together. Stop when there are still distinct brown and green areas—don't swirl so much that it becomes muddy and undefined! Tap the baking sheet against the counter a few times to settle the chocolate and remove any big ridges in the surface.
While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the top with the chopped Andes mints. Press them down gently to press them into the chocolate bark.
Refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate, for about 30 minutes. Once set, cut the bark into small squares or break it into irregular pieces by hand. Store the peppermint bark in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- Yields: 12-16 servings
- Preparation Time: 10 minutes