For Chocolate Lovers only  

Yet More Chocolate Bark

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 same bark.

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

© Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror" or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your own computer for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.



Related Links:
  • Holiday Baking
  • Gingerbread Workshop