Tips: I’ve presented chocolate bark
recipes in this column before, I know. But, while the ingredients
are similar to those of the mendiants elsewhere in this column,
the end results look and taste very different. To my way of
thinking, bark is an ideal holiday confection. It’s
easy to make, it keeps well, and most people really like it.
If you don’t care for the combinations I’ve suggested
below, use your imagination and come up with your own. Just
remember that you don’t want too many flavors in the
You must use best-quality chocolate here, and any dried fruits
should be soft and pliable. I believe that toasted nuts are
absolutely the way to go in a bark. Toasting isn’t mandatory
for the recipe’s success, but it really brings out the
flavor of the nut. In the white chocolate version below, note
that most dried red tart cherries are sweetened slightly and
sprayed very lightly with some kind of oil; neither characteristic
will harm the recipe below. Also, if you’re using crystallized
ginger (see the Dark Chocolate Bark recipe), buy larger pieces
and cut them up yourself. The pre-cut smaller chunks are often
dried out. The best way to chop crystallized ginger is on
a board, with a large, very sharp, straight-edged knife. Incidentally,
please do let this come to room temperature before serving,
as the bark has much more flavor with the chill off.
White Chocolate-Almond-Cherry Bark:
- 3/4 cup whole, unblanched (skin on) almonds
- 3/4 cup dried red tart cherries
- 12 ounces best-quality white chocolate, very finely chopped
- Optional: up to 3 drops lemon oil (see Note)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a shallow pan, large
enough to hold the almonds in a single layer, with aluminum
foil. Dump almonds on top of foil and spread to a single layer.
Toast in preheated oven about 9 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently,
just until strongly fragrant and a light golden brown (the
aroma is sometimes a more reliable indicator than the color;
I’ve had batches refuse to brown, but if there’s
a strong roasted almond aroma, they’re done). Watch
carefully, nuts can burn easily. Remove from oven; cool completely
before using in recipe. Have ready the toasted, cooled almonds
and the dried cherries (which you’ll use whole here).
Set aside. Line a 15-1/2 by 10-1/2 shallow baking sheet with
sides with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Set aside.
Place finely chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl.
Place over warm water on low heat (water should not touch
bottom of bowl). Stir frequently until almost melted; remove
from heat and hot water, and carefully dry bottom and sides
of bowl. Stir until melted and smooth. If desired, add lemon
oil now (no more than 3 drops!). Stir in almonds and cherries
until both are well-coated.
Turn mixture out onto lined baking sheet and spread out;
this amount will cover most of the sheet but need not cover
all. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, or until set. Wearing gloves,
or using a paper towel to protect the bark from the heat of
your hand, break the bark into small pieces. Store airtight
in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a week.
To serve, remove as much as you’ll need from the fridge.
Place on serving platter, cover loosely with plastic wrap,
and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
About 1-1/2 pounds
Note: Lemon oil is just that; oil extracted
from the peel of the lemon. Boyajian makes some lovely citrus
oils, including a terrific lemon. Do not try to substitute
lemon extract here! Three drops seems like a very minute quantity,
but this is strong stuff you’re dealing with.
Dark Chocolate-Almond-Ginger Bark:
- 1-1/4 cups whole, unblanched (skin on) almonds, toasted
and cooled as above
- 2 Tbsp. (or more) finely chopped crystallized ginger (depending
on how gingery you like sweets)
- 1 pound best-quality dark chocolate (I like to use a blend
of semisweet and bittersweet)
Toast and cool the almonds as above. Have ready the toasted,
cooled almonds and the finely chopped ginger. Line a baking
sheet with foil as above.
Melt the finely chopped chocolate as above. When it is melted,
add the almonds and ginger, and stir until both are well-coated.
Make sure to separate the small chunks of ginger as best you
can; they tend to stick together.
Turn the mixture out onto the foil-lined cookie sheet. Spread,
chill, break into pieces, store, and serve as above.
About 22 ounces
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