A thank you. A greeting. An introduction. A small gesture… A homemade gift can be all those things. Homemade treats do not have to be fancy or time consuming to make, a simple gift will do. They are always appreciated. I like making gifts, but I do not get around to making them as much as I would like. I usually think of an idea for a homemade gift too late and eventually buy something along the way. When I found this recipe for chocolate bark, I had an ah ha moment. I can do this. This recipe for chocolate bark is unusual, simple to make, beautiful to look at, and satisfies all chocolate cravings.
I have been a fan of chocolate bark for some time now and must admit to be a total dark chocolate fanatic. A day does not go by without a chocolate snack. My dessert choice usually has chocolate as the main attraction. I can’t help myself and totally find chocolate irresistible. I discovered this recipe while reading, Seasonal Fruit Desserts, by Deborah Madison. Yes I see the perplexed expression on your face: a chocolate bark recipe in a fruit dessert cookbook? Yes, Deborah Madison is no dummy and included this recipe in her dried fruit and nuts chapter. There is something for everyone in all of her cookbooks.
Her chocolate bark recipes are different, which was the main attraction for me. Laden in her chocolate bark are dried fruit, nuts, rose petals, citrus zest, and other floral attractions, reminding me that chocolate bark can be whatever I want it to be. The add-ins do not need to be limited to pretzels, peppermint and coconut. It can hold up to any variety of flavors that compliment chocolate, like citrus, chili, cinnamon, coffee, sea salt, ginger, and all nuts, just to name a few. One could go crazy with add-ins for chocolate bark and have a surprise in every bite. I do not recommend going too crazy, the flavors do need to get along and marry with each-other and the type of chocolate.
Chocolate bark is a welcome dessert by itself or with fruit, nuts, cookies, or sorbet. You can keep it in your refrigerator to have on hand to serve for an impromptu dinner party. Chocolate bark will also make a lovely hostess gift, or a small gift to the chocolate lover(s) in your life. A homemade gift that can easily fit into anyone’s busy schedule.
Dark Chocolate bark flavored with crystallized ginger, dried apricots and pistachios make a delicious dessert and pairs well with fruit, cookies, nuts and ice cream. Pair Dark Chocolate Bark with White Chocolate Bark flavored with orange zest, pistachios and lavender, and you have an extra special dessert treat that is almost too pretty to eat.
Both chocolate bark recipes are delicious and easy to make. They will make an excellent hostess gift or a nice gesture just for giving.
The actual cooking time is very short but you will need at least an hour for the chocolate to set in the refrigerator. Plan on at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours in total.
This recipe is very slightly adapted from Seasonal Fruit Desserts, From Orchard, Farm and Market by Deborah Madison, 2010
Dark Chocolate Bark -makes one 10 x 6 inch slab of chocolate bark
4 oz dark chocolate, between 60% to 70% cocoa butter
2-3 Tb chopped candied ginger
2-3 Tb chopped dried apricots
3 Tb salted green pistachio nuts, some chopped and some nuts left whole
Pinch of flaky sea salt like Maldon
White Chocolate Bark makes one 8 x 5 inch slab of white chocolate bark
4 oz white chocolate, good quality such as Lindt - or Lindt white chocolate with coconut
2 Tb finely chopped salted green pistachios
Orange zest removed with a citrus zester in thin strips
1/2 tea lavender or other dried edible flower pedal like hibiscus or rose petals
Dark Chocolate Bark
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Put the broken up chocolate in a bowl fitted over a pot of simmering water. If you want to add any dried spices add them now as well. Make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Just a small amount of water is all that is needed, no more than an inch high. Gently stir the chocolate while it is melting, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
When the chocolate is melted stir in half of the chopped fruit and nuts.
Spread the melted chocolate over the parchment paper in a thin slab, then sprinkle the remaining fruit and nuts evenly across the bark. Gently press down of the fruit and nuts so they will stick to the chocolate when it sets. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt.
Refrigerate the chocolate until it is set, at least an hour.
White Chocolate Bark
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper large enough to hold a 10 x 6 inch slab
Add the chopped white chocolate bark to a bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Keep the heat low and stir and scrape down the sides of the bowl while the white chocolate is melting.
When the white chocolate is melted, pour it out on the parchment paper and spread the chocolate into an even slab.
Sprinkle the remaining ingredients decoratively and evenly over the white chocolate and gently press them to adhere to the chocolate.
Refrigerate until set, at least an hour.
Break up the bark into irregular pieces and serve by itself or with other nuts, fruit, cookies or ice cream.
Keep the chocolate bark in an air tight container and wrapped in parchment or wax paper. Keep in the refrigerator.