The peppermint bark at The Apothecary’s Kitchen started out as an experiment. Founder Ben Smith began with a hypothesis: He could make a subtle, seasonal dessert that emphasized the rich taste of dark chocolate without overpowering the sweetness of white chocolate and the bold flavor of peppermint.
In 2012, Smith began his first trials at his home kitchen in Raleigh. He tempered a bowl of dark chocolate — made with fair-trade cocoa — on his stove top, searching for a glossy finish to appear on the surface. Then, he poured the dark chocolate onto a baking sheet and covered it with a thin layer of tempered white chocolate. The finishing touch? A light sprinkle of peppermint from crushed organic candy canes.
After a few attempts, Smith finally found a recipe that met his standards. Within a year of making his first batch, he established his bark brand, The Apothecary’s Kitchen. The name of the business is inspired by his ancestors, who ran one of the oldest apothecaries in the country, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, in Alexandria, Virginia, from 1792 to 1933.
Today, Smith’s peppermint bark is part of customers’ annual holiday traditions. And instead of working in the kitchen by himself, Smith, who is a full-time engineer, works with a candymaker that makes the confections for him, allowing him to package and share Christmas cheer that’s just as good as the remedies of the old apothecaries.