I’ve always been a little bit afraid of working with chocolate. The idea that it could suddenly turn some strange, gray colour or seize up just because I heated it too much or a drop of water got in there was very discouraging.
Plus, I have an old stove, so trying to control a hot water bath in order to temper the chocolate was also quite intimidating.
But chocolate bark is one of my favourites and one of my dad’s favourites, and finding good dark chocolate bark other than plain almond is both difficult and expensive.
So, I hunted down a couple of recipes and used the microwave in really short increments (30 seconds at a time at half power) to melt the chocolate before adding some yummy ingredients.
I opted to try three recipes. First, Oprah.com’s Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachios, Sweetened Dried Cherries and Pumpkin Seeds. This recipe had the best directions for melting the chocolate and combining all the ingredients.
Second, Epicurious.com’s Winter Dried Fruit and Nut Bark with almonds, raisins, ginger and sea salt.
Finally, I followed the ratio of chocolate to nuts and fruit in the above recipes and combined Belgian milk chocolate with pecans, marshmallows and coconut.
After all my research, I decided not to use chocolate chips, because there were so many warnings about the oiliness and the lumpiness they could cause while trying to melt them. They’ve been made to hold their shape in cookies, not to melt into a smooth mass.
Instead I picked up some semi-sweet chocolate baking squares and some bittersweet and milk chocolate Belgian chocolate pastilles. You can get the squares at any grocery store and I found the pastilles at my local bulk store.
I didn’t find a big difference in the taste or texture between the pastilles and the squares, so I wouldn’t hesitate to use either going forward.
I think all three recipes were delicious, though next time I’ll buy mini marshmallows instead of trying to cut up the big ones…so sticky!
Now that I’ve conquered my fear of working with chocolate, who knows what’s next!