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Bark as good as its bite

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So, maybe I went a little overboard with the topping on this chocolate bark, but hey, no one can accuse me of skimping on the ingredients.
Quality chocolate is good to eat on its own, but chocolate bark has that little extra something in the chocolate. Or in my case, a lot of extra something.
Chocolate bark is simply chocolate that is melted, and studded with dried fruit and nuts before it hardens again. Sometimes the nuts and fruit are stirred into the melted chocolate before it is spread out, and at other times, the fruit and nuts are layered on top, like I've done here.
I can't think of any confection as delicious but as simple to make as chocolate bark. Some knife work is involved if the nuts and/or fruit are a little large but nothing absolutely precise – not even the ingredient amounts really. Good quality chocolate is essential and dark and white chocolate can be used and even swirled together. Tempering the chocolate beforehand will give it that desired shine and snap, but to do that properly requires an accurate thermometer and patience. I used Lindt's, which is fine by me, so I'll leave the tempering for other kinds of confection.
Festive colours: Chocolate, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and crystallised ginger
I made bark this time with Christmas in mind, and used green pumpkin seeds, red dried cranberries and golden crystallised ginger. Very festive, I think. The weight of the chocolate and the nuts and fruit (combined) were about equal. Then I spied the bag of toasted sesame seeds and added a dash of those too. I also mixed in some salt. Mustn't forget the salt.
Sprinkle on the topping – and be generous about it
The chocolate is melted and poured onto a tray lined with baking/parchment paper. The fruit and seeds are sprinkled on and pressed into the chocolate so they adhere. The chocolate will flatten out slightly too.
The chocolate is set. Leave it as one jumbo piece or break it into shards? Hmm... 
It was too warm to leave the tray on the kitchen counter, so I put it in the fridge and left it there for a couple of hours for the chocolate to set.
Once set, the bark is broken into shards. Before storing in an air-tight container lined with greaseproof paper, I copped a couple of those pieces and was utterly delighted.

Chocolate Bark with Pumpkin Seeds, Cranberries and Ginger
Makes about  cups (amounts can easily be doubled... or tripled!)

100g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
30g pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
30g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
30g crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
A pinch of salt

Place the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Stirring occasionally, let the chocolate melt until smooth. Alternatively, place chocolate in a microwave-safe jug and heat on High for 30-45 seconds, stirring halfway through, until completely melted.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Line a tray with baking/parchment paper.
When chocolate has melted, pour it onto the paper. Spread out to 0.5cm using an offset spatula. Sprinkle the fruit and seeds over the top until chocolate is completely covered. Press down gently so the topping sticks to the chocolate, which will spread out slightly.
Place tray in the refrigerator and leave chocolate to harden. Once set, peel off paper and break the bark into shards. Line an air-tight container with baking paper (reuse the paper from before) and store the bark in the fridge.

You may also like these recipes with chocolate:
Heartache Chocolate Cake
Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl Brownies
Banana Chocolate Brownies with Quick Chocolate Glaze

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely gorgeous! I'd love to bite into one right now! Yummmmm


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