I thought I would give you another idea for holiday gifts. A fun and festive recipe is Ina Garten’s French Chocolate Bark. It is delish, easy to make and a beautiful gift. Most professional chocolate is “tempered” which requires it to be brought to a certain temperature. This ensures a shiny finish, and a longer shelf life. It takes time and a little skill. This bark recipe does not require you to temper the chocolate. Un-tempered chocolate can “bloom” or turn a little grey. It will not affect the taste. I would eat the bark within a couple of days of making it.
- 8 ounces of very good semisweet chocolate (Ghirardelli, Guittard, Callebaut), finely chopped
- 8 ounces of very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
- 1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews (you could mix different kinds of nuts, pistachios or almonds work well too)
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the cashews in one layer on a sheet pan (or jelly roll pan) and bake for 8 minutes. This will bring out the oil on the nuts and will add great flavor to the bark. Set aside to cool.
Line another sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9 by 10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper facedown on the baking sheet.
Melt the 2 chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Another option is to place the semisweet chocolate and 1/2 the bittersweet chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 20-30 seconds. Stir with a rubber spatula. Continue to heat carefully until the chocolate is just melted. Immediately, add the remaining bittersweet chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it’s completely smooth and shiny.
Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the ginger, cashews (or other nuts), apricots and cranberries/raisins over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. [Refrigerating or freezing the bark will help it set up, but you might get some bloom]. Cut the bark in 1 by 3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!!