december 8, 2017
Given the choice : homemade treat made with love, or store bought. Tough choice, huh? Bet you got it right! The thrill of knowing someone has taken the time, and effort, to craft an edible gift just for you? Well, priceless. That’s what this recipe is all about.
Made with love. Write this on your label and watch the recipient’s face break into a big old holiday grin. Making treats for my clients and loved ones at holiday time has been a tradition for many years. New recipes are tested and old ones are kept if they prove to be winners. This holiday chocolate bark is a winner. Different toppings will make an appearance but the basic recipe remains the same. See my Fruit and Nut Chocolate Bars for a similar treat.
Melt good quality dark chocolate, top with pretty bits, allow the bark to set and then package for gift giving.. I like the contrast of sweet and salty, so a light sprinkle of coarse sea salt elevates this candy to the sublime. Notice how the “sea salt caramel” bin is often empty at the candy shop—folks are trying, and buying. This year I’m going for traditional holiday colors of red, green and gold. The white flaked coconut looks a little like snowflakes, don’t you think? Wishful thinking on my part, perhaps.
A few helpful hints :
- use best quality bittersweet chocolate, at least 72%, and chop with a heavy serrated knife on a clean, dry chopping board that has not been used for aromatics like onion or garlic (trust me on this)
- you may be tempted to use the food processor for chopping, but the motor’s heat will make for partial melting and a messy pile
- water is the enemy and will cause your chocolate to seize up into hardened bits – watch for steam, too
- use tiny dabs of the melted chocolate to anchor the parchment paper to the sheet pan – this prevents the paper from traveling
- store the finished bark in an airtight tin in a cool spot away from heat or sunlight; it will keep a few weeks this way, if you don’t eat it!
- be creative with toppings and use nuts, bits of candied ginger, pink peppercorns and other bits of dried fruits
So put on your goofiest Christmas sweater, play vintage holiday tunes and cook up some holiday love with this Holiday Chocolate Bark.
Holiday Chocolate Bark
makes about 1 ½ pounds bark
about one pound best dark/bittersweet chocolate, at least 72% cacao (I like Trader Joe’s Belgian 17.6 ounce Pound Plus)
generous half cup each of golden raisins, dried cranberries, raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and unsweetened coconut flakes
coarse sea salt, or flaked sea salt
- Bring several inches of water to boil in saucepan, then turn down to simmer.
- Coarsely chop chocolate with heavy serrated knife (to keep chocolate from flying about) on clean, dry chopping board; set aside about one cup.
- Add remainder of chocolate to stainless steel bowl , place over gently simmering water and stir frequently with spatula until all is just melted; keep water at gentle simmer to avoid steam coming in contact with chocolate, which will make it stiffen.
- Remove bowl from heat, stir in remaining cup of chocolate and stir until all is melted (these are the “seeds” in a modified tempering method which helps the chocolate keep a nice “snap” when set).
- At the four corners of a heavy large sheet pan (12.5 X 17.5 inches), place a dab of the melted chocolate, then fit a piece of parchment paper firmly onto the pan (the chocolate is the glue which holds the paper in place).
- Wipe the bottom of the stainless steel bowl dry (water droplets falling on the chocolate will cause it to stiffen) and spread the chocolate thinly with the spatula (or an offset metal spatula) onto the paper.
- Sprinkle the golden raisins, then the cranberries, then the pepitas and finally the coconut flakes.
- Lightly sprinkle coarse sea salt atop the bark (to your taste – a little goes a long way), gently pat down the ingredients and let the bark sit at room temperature in a cool spot until set, about several hours.
- Break the bark into large pieces and pack into airtight containers, storing at room temperature in a cool spot away from heat and sunlight.
- Holiday Chocolate Bark keeps for several weeks at room temperature.